Going to the mechanic is like going to the doctor: trust is everything. Start by asking your friends and family for recommendations. Word of mouth is a great way to get started in your search. Find people who have the same make of car and find out who they go to and what they think of them.
Try one out. Take your car in for something small like an oil change and see how they treat you. Was the place clean? Was the service friendly? Go for a coffee date before you commit to a relationship.
Look around the shop for accreditation certificates. Things like Auto Service Excellence (ASE) are a good sign. If you belong to AAA, see who they recommend in your area.
Start your search when you don’t need to take your car in for repairs. If you wait until your car’s in a bad way, you’re likely to rush to judgment just to get your car worked on. By someone. Anyone. Take the pressure off and find a good mechanic when you don’t need one.
Don’t forget to check out your dealer’s service department. No one knows your car better than your dealer.