5 Ways to Spot a Shady Mechanic | Carlsen Subaru Auto Care Tips

Things to Know About 3rd Party Mechanic Shops

Not all mechanics will treat you the same. Not all service centers offer the same prices on parts and repairs. And since most customers don't know much about car repair, dishonest mechanics continue to thrive. To help you avoid one, here are five helpful tips. We think the best way to take care of your Subaru is to bring it to an authorized Subaru dealership service center for all your maintenance needs - but if you're far from the nearest Subaru dealer or just want to shop around, remember these five expert tips.

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5: Do Your Homework - Online Reviews

If you're looking for a place to take your car for service, the best way to go is often word of mouth. Anybody can advertise their low prices and how great they are, but that still doesn't tell you if the people working there are honest and knowledgeable or not. A recommendation from a trusted friend or family member can give you peace of mind about your decision. If nobody in your area can make a good recommendation, online reviews are almost as good as word of mouth. After all, you're getting lots of words from dozens or even hundreds of mouths! You can see from the reviews how customers feel about their service, and you can see if the shop has replied to any bad reviews to see how they handle a negative experience.

At Carlsen Subaru, we're proud to have a five-star rating on DealerRater and a four-and-a-half star rating from Cars.com!

Demand only certified Subaru Service professionals from Carlsen Subaru for your service needs!

4: Case the Joint - Looks Aren't Always Deceiving

Once you've found a place you're interested in taking your car, it's often a good idea to visit in-person first, especially if you're going by online reviews.

Many less-than-reputable mechanics will store dozens of cars in various states of disrepair on their lots in an attempt to look busy. But watch the vehicles closely. If the cars on the lot stay there for days or weeks at a time, the shop might be at best understaffed and at worst extremely slow! Slow car repairs not only take more of your time, they'll cost more because you're paying for labor hours. These slow shops can run up the cost on you until it far exceeds what you'd pay at a reputable dealership service center!

If the garage, the parking lot and the surrounding premises don't look professional, you're unlikely to find much professionalism inside. Consider a different auto shop instead.

Compare our very competitive service and parts pricing!

3: Know your Enemy - The Service Chain Wall of Shame

Throughout the years, undercover stings and lawsuits have shown that even big, national chains have engaged in some less-than-savory practices, including charging for services they failed to perform, overcharging, and using bait-and-switch tactics. Of course, not every location at a national service chain is guilty of schemes like these - but it does go to show that, even in the comfort of a well-regarded franchise service branch, vigilance is always important. Before visiting any of these locations, familiarize yourself with the tactics they've been known to use to charge you more than necessary. If you're told your vehicle needs new items like a new cabin air filter, you might even ask to watch as they perform the service. That way, you'll know for sure if it actually gets done.

2: Communication Breakdown - Get The Answers To Your Questions

Like the looks of your chosen auto shop so far? Speak with their service advisors and see how they answer the questions you have about your car.

At the Carlsen Subaru service department, our factory-trained technicians will carefully explain all the services your car needs to be running at its best. If you've got questions, no problem! We'll answer them and help you understand exactly what's going on with your vehicle.

A service center to avoid is one where your questions are unwelcome. If a mechanic says they replaced, say, your power steering pump, ask to see the old one. If they say your car isn't safe to drive to another shop for a second opinion, ask them why not. Be willing to have your car towed to another shop for a second opinion if you're about to be charged thousands of dollars for any repair. And if you ask for an explanation of a service, and you're told "It's too complicated," or, "You wouldn't understand," tread carefully. A reputable auto shop will always communicate with their customers until they feel confident and at ease.

1: Comparison Shop - Know Before You Go

On any service that will exceed $100, you should be able to walk out of any reputable shop with a written estimate of what a repair would cost for both parts and labor. Be sure to compare any quote you get from a third-party service location to the rates offered by an authorized Subaru dealership service center!

Many of these third-party garages price common services like oil changes and tire rotations very low to get you in the door - then hope you don't shop around when you're told a more significant repair is needed. On these repairs, it's often cost effective to visit the dealership instead! Third-party garages have been known to charge reasonable rates for common maintenance services only to overcharge you on parts and labor when you're in need of a bigger repair.

You might be surprised how competitive our prices are at Carlsen Subaru! Give us a call the next time you're in need of maintenance or repair for your Subaru. Combined with our monthly service specials, our prices often give you the best value in town.

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Carlsen Subaru

480 Veterans Blvd
Directions Redwood City, CA 94063

  • Sales: 650-365-6390
  • Service : 650-365-6390
  • Parts: 650-365-6390
  1. Carlsen Subaru

    480 Veterans Blvd
    Redwood City, CA 94063

    • Sales: (888) 520-5916

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