Just moved. Tips on finding a good independent repair shop?

Messages
377
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Hi All,

long time lurker first time poster. My wife and I moved to North Scottsdale, AZ recently. For the most part I do almost all the repairs and maintenance on our cars myself (2017 Nissan Frontier 55k, 2015 Nissan Rogue Awd 65k) these are fairly easy to work on and the Rogue has a Carmax warranty (will get into this later) so I don’t usually have to do anything but maintenance and parts changing repair stuff.

When we lived in Houston I accidentally stumbled upon an awesome mechanic who would do very high quality work at a reasonable price. I’d use him if either I had gotten in too deep for my skill set or I had a weird repair that would require a lot of special tools I’d never use again (Cornerstone Auto on S Dairy Ashford was the shop btw).

Two pronged question, first and selfishly if anyone has a good Indy shop recommendation in Scottsdale/PHX I’d appreciate it.

Secondly is there a good checklist or way to evaluate a shop before giving them your car? I know it’s easy once you get a car back (usually lug but torque is a first sign) yelp is useless for this kind of thing.

Reason for this topic is that I had the Rogue into Carmax in Houston for about 5 weeks for front end noise, I trailered it here but it’s going to have to go back in since the noise is still there and worse than it originally was. I don’t want to keep giving it to Carmax to swap more parts (it is nice that they basically replaced the entire front suspension) in and not fix the problem.
 
Messages
25,980
Location
Upstate NY
You need to ask around, a NAPA store would probably know. Neighbors. Auto shop at high school. Go in and look around and talk. Are they organized or is it a cluttered mess. Ask about bringing in your own parts if that is something you are interested in.
 

Crash Bandicoot

Thread starter
Messages
377
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
You need to ask around, a NAPA store would probably know. Neighbors. Auto shop at high school. Go in and look around and talk. Are they organized or is it a cluttered mess. Ask about bringing in your own parts if that is something you are interested in.
Ahh never thought about asking around the auto parts stores, great idea. Thanks!
 
Messages
3,321
Location
Richmond, VA
If it is a cluttered mess, it may be a guy that knows everything and does a great job but lacks organizational skills. I would agree with asking at NAPA, but the guy you talk to may just tell you the shop that pays on time or is the friendliest.

Looking at Facebook /google/yelp reviews will give you a decent idea of who has a shop that fixes stuff right the first time. I would also ask a neighbor or 2 if you see them wrenching on their own vehicles.
 
Messages
17,586
Location
Upper Midwest
A referral is about all you can do to find out something ahead of time. Once you're there however, listening to how the service advisors talk to the customers (both on the phone and in-person) is very instructive. If you get a whiff of nonsense then it's time to find someplace else.

One of the local Toyota dealers here is absolutely honest as far as I can tell. I do most work myself, but when I have taken it in I already know what needs and what does not need to be done. Back in the day I used to play dumb and tell them to "look it over while you have it up on the lift" or some other open-ended comment just to see how they would respond. I never had them suggest something that I didn't already knew was needed.
 
Messages
15,583
Location
Santa Barbara, CA
Is there a Nextdoor page for your neighborhood? There is one for mine and people post in there frequently asking for a shop/plumber/electrician. I personally don't give recommendations since I sell to literally every shop in town. The most I will do is respond to a recommendation with "they are good people, ask for so and so" kinda thing.
 
Messages
150
Location
Minnesota
Look at google reviews. If it is under 4 stars with over 20 reviews, don't even consider it. I look for over 25 reviews and over 4.5 stars. That equates to about 3 shops in my city lol

Even the ones with good reviews can screw stuff up or be stumped.
 
Messages
3,617
Location
Ohio
I agree with the Nextdoor recommendation.
That is how I found the guy I use. Actually, I have three that I use for a variety of things.
The first time that I use anyone, I take the vehicle in for something simple like, for example. an oil change.
The reason for this is to see how they handle things, the quality of their work and observe if they are someone that I want to handle more complex automotive situations. It also gives me a chance to interact and develop a rapport with them.
If not, then I'm not in the middle of dealing with a broken down car and I don't have much money invested in them. It's simple to move on and find someone else.
 
Messages
742
Location
Miami Beach
I would just ask [while your out and about] people with older vehicles that are in good condition who their mechanic is. I would start off with just a oil change and watch every move they make. You will get a good feeling or bad feeling about that shop.
 
Messages
1,514
Location
Ohio
Ditto on Google reviews. If they have several reviews and generally have lots of stars, that's a good sign. Even better sign: The owner respons to reviews, positive and negative, so they take their reviews seriously.

I've always had good service from the local chain where I get tires and alignments done, and their reviews are usually very positive.
 
Messages
854
Location
sw ohio
Hi All,

long time lurker first time poster. My wife and I moved to North Scottsdale, AZ recently. For the most part I do almost all the repairs and maintenance on our cars myself (2017 Nissan Frontier 55k, 2015 Nissan Rogue Awd 65k) these are fairly easy to work on and the Rogue has a Carmax warranty (will get into this later) so I don’t usually have to do anything but maintenance and parts changing repair stuff.

When we lived in Houston I accidentally stumbled upon an awesome mechanic who would do very high quality work at a reasonable price. I’d use him if either I had gotten in too deep for my skill set or I had a weird repair that would require a lot of special tools I’d never use again (Cornerstone Auto on S Dairy Ashford was the shop btw).

Two pronged question, first and selfishly if anyone has a good Indy shop recommendation in Scottsdale/PHX I’d appreciate it.

Secondly is there a good checklist or way to evaluate a shop before giving them your car? I know it’s easy once you get a car back (usually lug but torque is a first sign) yelp is useless for this kind of thing.

Reason for this topic is that I had the Rogue into Carmax in Houston for about 5 weeks for front end noise, I trailered it here but it’s going to have to go back in since the noise is still there and worse than it originally was. I don’t want to keep giving it to Carmax to swap more parts (it is nice that they basically replaced the entire front suspension) in and not fix the problem.
I would go to a mechanic that has a car like yours. Maybe to a shop that works on the local cop and emergency vehicles, if not done in house. Like others have said, sometimes parts suppliers, like the local NAPA, know the good places. I've used this before and it worked out well. Paying bills on time is a good sign. Money coming in because he has customers and that he is responsible. Also mechanics and customers gossip about ppl in the trade and the NAPA guy hears it all
 
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Messages
2,689
Location
WY
Needle in a haystack. The only places more shady than garages are car dealers and the MyPillow company. Buy some tools and a FSM, watch some Youtube videos and do it yourself.
 
Messages
491
Location
SW Missouri
You need to ask around, a NAPA store would probably know. Neighbors. Auto shop at high school. Go in and look around and talk. Are they organized or is it a cluttered mess. Ask about bringing in your own parts if that is something you are interested in.
The guy that mentored me through jun high and high school kept a fairly cluttered shop(wasn’t always like that) but expected and produced dealership level or better quality work. He very rarely ever had a comeback. He made it clear to the customer that it was his way or the highway and they were free to go elsewhere. He wanted to do the job right or not at all.
 
Messages
5,762
Location
Da Swamp
When I moved to Denver, I did exactly what you've suggested, asked around. My Olds Cutlass was only about 3 years old, so it didn't need much. When I got into Mercedes, I asked MB club members for recommendations.

In 2001 I came back to Da Swamp with the W126 and asked the local club for recommendations. A disaster: The shop they recommended was one of the most expensive in town. When the owner told me I needed the timing chain and guides done, which to be fair was really due, he quoted me $3000. (What did he want to do, take the engine out and bring it home with him?)

This was before Yelp and Gaggle reviews, so . . . I looked in the phone book. The first guy I called quoted me $1200 for the same job. I asked him for a couple of customer names, called them, got glowing reviews (I know, he could have sent me to his brother-in-law), and went ahead. Still going to him 19 years and 5 cars later.
 
my suggestions: an enthusiast’s club or website for other makes, e.g. an active subaru forum might lead you to a japanese car specialist shop, ditto for jeep to an awd specialist shop; dealership, some are fine, try a test with a simple service, e.g. oil change or even a free promotional safety check to get a feel.
 
Messages
7,264
Location
Roanoke Virginia
I’ve been asked multiple times for repair shop recommendations in my area with me knowing a lot of mechanics sometimes people on the other end of town will ask me in case they can’t make it to me. I recommend only the honest ones of course. Though once I felt bad because I recommended a shop and the person dropped their car off and the place burnt to the ground with their car inside someone was welding and someone spilt gas in the same spot. Ever since I started doing road calls I don’t get asked as much for recommendations since I can come to them to do the work. One thing I’ve always been told is if a mechanic drives a new car keep driving to the next place lol and also pay attention to how they do the work and how they treat customers. Also I’ve been told never to trust one that could fit all of his screwdrivers in one drawer lol.
 
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