Saturday, December 6, 2014

Where Should I Get My Oil Changed? (Finding a Mechanic)

(Note: I write a tech column in the Hurricane Region, Porsche Club of America newsletter. Desperate for content for the blog, I decided to begin plagiarizing myself.)

One question that has come up lately, mostly from newer members, is where to take a car for routine maintenance, track inspections, and the like? There have been lots of helpful replies, some recommending local independent shops and some recommending using the dealership.

Since you have chosen the foolish route of owning European sports cars, which are inherently expensive to maintain and prone to needing repairs, identifying a shop and mechanic you trust is important. Just how do you go about finding the mechanic right for you? Well, the first step is exactly what members are doing on Facebook: asking questions. You can also find good options on the pages of this very newsletter. Our advertisers have supported the region and its’ members for years, sponsoring events on the weekend and fixing members’ cars during the week.

While I advocate doing maintenance yourself whenever possible, you can also benefit from having routine tasks done at a local shop. You may find it useful to ‘test drive’ a mechanic before a major problem arises. You really don’t want to get that big repair estimate only to wonder if the shop knows what it is doing. Better to have established a relationship prior to that moment. 

So what to look for? I have a few things I want from any shop. The first thing is basic customer service stuff; do they return phone calls, answer questions directly, and do what they say they are going to do? Porsches can be complex machines, and estimates are just that, so you have to go into any repair with your eyes open. But you should never get surprised when the bill shows up. 

Don’t be afraid to ask about the experience and training of the mechanics at the shop, and to get a short tour. A good shop should welcome the opportunity to show off both their facilities and employees.

Finally, and this is the acid test question: if things don’t turn out exactly as they should does the shop do the right thing? Again, these are complex machines and not every problem is simple to diagnose and repair. To be completely honest I have heard supposed horror stories about many shops in the area. When you repair thousands of cars over the years a few things are bound to go wrong. I had just such an experience, and the shop immediately made it right. I continue to use them to this day.

As for the question of independent shop vs. Porsche dealer… well, there are pros and cons to either option and again, we are lucky to have outstanding examples of each who support the region. So my answer is the same: build a relationship with a shop over time. Owning a Porsche is going to cost you money, perhaps a good bit of it on occasion. Better to spend that money at a shop you trust, where you have done business successfully in the past.

1 comment:

  1. Your advice to ask about the training and experience of the mechanics at the shop. It seems important to find a mechanic that has experience working on a European car. I want to make sure my car gets good care as I want it to last a long time.