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Ask Sid

Reliable Car Mechanics

Q. My car needs repair, but I don’t need a fleecing. What’s the best way to find a reliable car mechanic?

A. Assuming that the most common way—referrals from friends and neighbors—hasn’t worked out, you may want to check out the Mechanics res a database of 16,000 recommendations by the gearhead fans of Car Talk, the popular National Public Radio program. You can search by ZIP code and car make. (The show’s producers review each entry for legitimacy.)

Other options: The Motorist Assurance Program recommends repair shops—also searchable by ZIP code—that meet certain criteria for estimates and warranties established by this nonprofit organization. You can also look for shops certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence; mechanics in these shops undergo specialized training on parts such as brakes, electrical systems, and heating and air conditioning. You can also review a list of repair facilities approved by the American Automobile Association.

Once you get some recommendations, it’s wise to check with your local Better Business Bureau for any complaints that may have been filed.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

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