Finding a good mechanic that is reliable and trustworthy; most people believe that pulling their own teeth would be easier.
When you are searching for a mechanic to work on your classic cars, the search can be even more grueling. Classic cars require special care and a knowledge that is different than working on newer vehicles. If you are taking your classic car to a mechanic that doesn’t have the right experience, you could end up hurting your car more than helping your car.
Because we care about your classic cars, we want to help you find somebody you trust to care for your collection. Here are a few tips that we recommend following to find the best possible classic car repair for your favorite vintage cars.
When searching for a classic car mechanic, you should:
1. Get personal recommendations. Ask around to other car collectors, visit online forums, etc. The personal opinions of friends, family and fellow collectors can go a long way in helping you narrow down the possibilities for which mechanic to choose.
2. Ask potential mechanics for references of their work on classic cars, and use those references well! Do a thorough “background check” on these mechanics and get a feel for how their customers feel about them. Have a list of questions ready; questions revolving around price, experience, time-management, customer interaction, etc.
3. More specifically than just “references”, ask for their experience on working with cars like yours. Have they done work with the brand of car you have? Do they specialize in a certain type of car? They may have a ton of experience working with classic cars, but if they’ve never worked with an old Gran Torino Sport, and that’s what you have…move on. Search until you find someone who knows what they’re doing with the car you have. You’ll be happy you did.
4. Ask to tour the facility. While you’re there, keep a look out for the proper certifications and equipment that the shop should have. The shop should employee ASE certified mechanics and they should proudly advertise that fact. If you don’t see any sign that they are certified, get out.
5. Talk directly with the mechanics who will be handling your car. Your comfort is a big deal; if you don’t feel comfortable talking with them, move on. You should never feel like you’re being “dealt with” at your mechanic. You are paying them, so if they talk down to you and don’t appreciate you as a customer, you can make a pretty sure bet that they won’t appreciate your car.
6. Ask about the shop’s warranty policy. Most shops offer at least a 12 month (or mileage) warranty on parts and repairs. If they don’t offer one, run away. That means they don’t value their own work enough to ensure its quality!
7. Remember that price is not everything. Yes, it’s great to get a bargain, but when you’re working on a classic car, quality repairs can often come at a price. You can find a mechanic who is willing to haggle and bargain, but just note that many times, the quality of the work is directly proportional to the size of the price tag.
8. Try out the shop on a small item before you use them for a large item. Need a tire replaced? Need a cracked windshield repaired? This is the time to test mechanics for their accuracy, speed, and work quality. If they do a good job on the small, routine items, they’ll likely do a good job on the larger, more difficult jobs.
9. When you’re testing out the mechanic, make sure they communicate well with you. You should remain in the loop at all times during the repair process. Even if you don’t have a clue about car repairs, it’s still your car, and hence, it’s your right to know what’s going on with it. You’d expect the same from a doctor if they were treating your child, so expect the same from your mechanic.
10. Most of us have been to the mechanic at one point or another and just weren’t sure if the part they were recommending to replace actually needed replaced, or if they were just trying to make a quick buck. Simple fix: ask to have the old vintage parts back. If the mechanic is unsure about this request, or if they refuse to return the parts to you, there’s a good chance they may be doing some dirty dealing behind the counter. If they recommend replacing something in your car that you don’t think needs replaced, this little test will keep them in check and it can also save you a ton of money.
About the Author
Drew Yagodnik is Vice President of Classic Automobile Insurance Agency, Inc. Classic Automobile Insurance Agency has been protecting collector, classic and exotics since 1992.