Gen Xers, Millennials Struggle to Find Trusted Mechanics

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
gen xers millennials struggle to find trusted mechanics

Everyone knows a friend or, more frequently, a friend’s middle-aged dad who has “a guy.”

The guy in question doesn’t necessarily need to be male and the friend only needs to know them tangentially. They just have to be some kind of professional or tradesman that they trust implicitly with a single important aspect of their life. For automotive enthusiasts, the guy is a mechanic and usually has a whole shop backing him up. Unfortunately, “the guy” has remained elusive for younger generations.

According to a survey conducted by AAA, most American drivers don’t trust auto repair shops in the general sense but have singled one out that they can feel they can trust. However, most of those satisfied customers are a bit older, leaving the under fifty-five crowd pulling their hair out in frustration. Around 76 percent of Baby Boomers have a chosen auto repair shop that they trust, while Millennials and Gen-Xers hover around 55 and 56 percent.

“To minimize the stress associated with vehicle repair and maintenance, it is critical that drivers find an honest repair shop that they can trust with their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA found that one-third of U.S. drivers — 75 million motorists in total — have yet to find a trusted repair facility, leaving them vulnerable when trouble strikes.”

What can be done?

Well, you can start looking for a reputable mechanic now to save yourself some big headaches later. Ask your friends and family where they go, especially if one of them already has “a guy.” AAA also has a list of approved auto repair locations on their website. However, doing your own research is invaluable. As terrible as Yelp reviewers seem to be as human-beings, they are great at revealing if an establishment is run by a psycho or not. Reviews can help you decide if you want to omit a potential shop or investigate further.

AAA recommends visiting a mechanic for an oil change or tire rotation, using it as an opportunity to talk with employees and snoop around. While it might be a little unrealistic to run a background check on every single employee, you’ll get a sense of their capabilities, credentials, equipment, and leave with a decent concept of what future service with them might be like.

Ideally, every person should learn as much about their own vehicle as possible. One of the biggest complaints from the survey was mechanics recommending unnecessary services. Anyone who takes the time to familiarize themselves with a vehicle can avoid this. Walking into a repair shop without even knowing the location of the hood release is like jumping into a boat without a paddle. You don’t need to become an automotive expert, but it might be helpful to go in knowing how long it takes to change your brake pads before a mechanic you are unfamiliar with bills you for sixteen hour of labor and sells you on a coolant flush or fresh air for your tires.

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  • Mchan1 Mchan1 on Dec 04, 2016

    Regardless of the generation, it's hard to find a good, HONEST, Competent mechanic (aka mechanical technician, as some call themselves nowadays in some areas). It's NO different than finding a good Honest and Competent tax professional, doctor, etc... (provided that the client doesn't have any hidden agendas like falsifying stuff to their tax professional, which some do). The problems: 1. Even the 'trusted' ones may screw you over because of the long lasting 'relationship' you have. All relationships are 2 way... so one party may have tried screwing the other first. 2. Auto shop classes are almost NON-existent now. Can't find an auto mechanic shop to learn how to do auto repairs. Youtube is OK for the basics but buying the tools necessary is relatively Expensive! 3. The newer vehicles have SO much technology that it makes it complex for some repairs. For example... when the Radio is now hooked up to the transmission/engine (for security issues), you may have some issues. 4. When auto maker Designers Literally 'squeeze' the designs of the vehicles to make things more compact, it makes getting to many parts of the vehicles a damn nightmare! For example... if you want to replace a headlight bulb, you'll have to disassemble Many different OTHER parts just to get to it! Utterly ridiculous as you spend MORE time figuring out what parts to take out then reassemble that has NOTHING to do with the actual repair! As long as the car is under warranty, go to the dealership for the repairs as it "may" be covered by warranty. Once the warranty ends, good luck to everyone in finding a good, HONEST, Competent mechanic!

  • Pwrwrench Pwrwrench on Dec 29, 2020

    A bit late to this game. I worked in vehicle repair for 3 decades so I found out most of the things others has mentioned here. Some additional thoughts: You may not always get OEM parts if you go to a dealer service department. That was one of the reasons I left after 3 years at a dealer. They were charging mfg suggested list price, and using OEM part numbers on invoices, for aftermarket parts. As a mechanic I had no control over this, but I was certainly blamed if something was complained about, such as squeaking brake pads. Later I found out the parts manager was getting a kickback from the outside company that they were buying parts from. I ran my own shop for 20 years and at times it was a real roller coaster. One example: I had to adopt a policy of not using parts brought in by customers after some extremely acrimonious disputes over who or what was responsible for 'customer dissatisfaction'. I gave some their money back and suggested they find another repair shop. Which brings up another point. About 20-30% of people that came in were trying to work some sort of scam to get their car repaired cheap or free. Often this was only found out after the work was done. Cannot get your time back and usually impossible to get the parts back. Also it is a big financial hurdle in many areas to open a repair shop. Most states require some type of license, but you can only get that if you have papers that prove you have a building permitted for auto repair. Building owners found this out quickly. Happened here in California in the 1990s. Rents went up accordingly. This is probably why many shops are in "mini-mall" complexes with 4-8 shops around a central parking lot. Also around that same time, late 90s, cheap leases and low interest rates came in. Many people dumped older cars and drove new ones. Less work for shops as a significant number of the old cars ended up in the crusher. There is a complex of events and changes that weigh on the subject of finding "THE GUY". It's about much more than when someone was born.

  • Chris Doering I have a decent 78 xe lots of potential
  • Kat Laneaux Wonder if they will be able to be hacked into (the license plates) and then you get pulled over for invalid license plates or better yet, someone steal your car and transpose numbers to show that they are the owners. Just a food for thought.
  • Tassos Government cheese for millionaires, while idiot Joe biden adds trillions to the debt.What a country (IT ONCE WAS!)
  • Tassos screw the fat cat incompetents. Let them rot. No deal.
  • MaintenanceCosts I think if there's one thing we can be sure of given Toyota's recent decisions it's that the strongest version of the next Camry will be a hybrid. Sadly, the buttery V6 is toast.A Camry with the Highlander/Sienna PSD powertrain would be basically competitive in the sedan market, with the slow death of V6 and big-turbo options. But for whatever reason it seems like that powertrain is capacity challenged. Not sure why, as there's nothing exotic in it.A Camry with the Hybrid Max powertrain would be bonkers, easily the fastest thing in segment. It would likewise be easy to build; again, there's nothing exotic in the Hybrid Max powertrain. (And Hybrid Max products don't seem to be all that constrained, so far.)