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As a programmer, if I had a non-programmer friend who was looking for a programmer, I could think of a few tips to help him sort out the sheep from the goats and avoid some common traps.

Do you have any equivalent tips when it comes to finding someone to take care of my car?

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See meta discussion here – Move More Comments Link To Top Jun 1 '11 at 13:19

I would start by looking at Yelp, Angie’s List, and the Car Talk Mechanics Files.

I consider the following to be good signs:

  • The shop's lot holds several cars of the same make/model/age as your own. Some shops advertise their expertise pretty generically (e.g., "Joe's foreign car service."), so seeing that other people with similar cars go there suggests that they know your make/model well.

  • Cleanliness. It isn't always easy to see into the garage bays from the outside or from the reception area, and asking for a tour might be met with a funny look. However, a clean and well lit shop is a better sign than tools scattered about, unaddressed oil spills on the floor, et cetera.

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