Photo: Flickr / danielspills
On-call mechanics sound ultra-convenient, but drivers should know what they’re good for. This applies to peer-to-peer sites like YourMechanic, which aim to take the car shop owner out of the equation by letting drivers book appointments online.
On the surface, sites like YourMechanic are more convenient and reasonable than dealerships. However, Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds, isn’t convinced they’re the best way to go for all repairs.
“For routine maintenance, this might be very helpful (oil change, routine inspections and tire rotation),” he said over email. “Most people dislike either dropping a car off at a mechanic or hanging around a dealership waiting for the service to be completed. But it creates a lot of questions. For one thing, are the mechanics factory certified?”
Car dealerships’ mechanics always are, meaning they’ve been trained and retrained by the car maker.
“They’re aware of all updates to repairs being done on their cars,” and they’re considered the best guys for the job, Reed explained.
If the repair seems minor and you’re pressed for time, then before you book the appointment, do your homework by checking on Yelp or ask a friend for referrals. You should also make sure the mechanic is ASE certified.
But if it’s a major repair, tough luck. You’ll just have to tow the car in to the dealership.
“For one, [on-call mechanics] can’t put a car on a lift,” said Reed, which is “a major advantage to allowing a mechanic to do his or her job.”
Not that you should only rely on your dealership. As Reed pointed out, sometimes the best bet is calling AAA.
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