How to choose a mechanic

Eamon McGinn, a loyal MR reader, asks:

I was wondering if you were willing to share your ideas for picking a mechanic. I had a look through the archives and couldn’t find anything.

Considering a choice between a garage run by an individual mechanic and one run by a nationwide company:

The individual run garage stands to lose more if too many repairs are done (causing me not to return in the future) but he has a temptation to increase the amount of repairs as he gets most of the profits (as opposed to the mechanic working at a company run garage who, ipresume, gets a wage). I feel the latter effect will dominate as I can’t really tell if too many repairs are done.

This would indicate that the company run garage is the one to go for. However the lack of incentive to over-charge also implies a lack of incentive to do a good job.

This is a tough dilemma, though I am not sure if individual vs. company is the trade-off I am worried about.  I would expect individual mechanics in large repair companies to have plenty of incentives to overcharge you (does anyone know how these people are compensated?)

I am pleased that, at 46 years old, I’ve never had to use a mechanic in the traditional sense.  I’ve never needed anything other than standard maintenance.  So my first piece of advice is to always buy a Toyota or Honda.  My second piece of advice is to support free trade and, if I dare say so, to support a reasonable level of immigration.  I suspect that a mechanic who is an immigrant, indeed an illegal one, is less likely to rip you off.  No proof, that’s just my best educated guess, based on the idea that people who are afraid of losing a big surplus are less likely to invite scrutiny and the irritation of others. 

As for the question itself, lack of experience, in this case, also implies lack of expertise.  Readers, do you have good suggestions for Eamon?


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