Angie's LIST Guide to
Classic Car Service
Finding a classic car mechanic
No matter your skill level when it comes to repairs, service or tune-ups for your classic or vintage vehicle, hiring a qualified and experienced classic car mechanic can provide some key benefits:
1. Documentation of regular service or important repairs – One key to keeping that old car running is regular maintenance, especially so considering that vehicles of older eras required much more frequent maintenance when compared to modern vehicles. For example, some modern vehicles can go 10,000 to 15,000 miles between oil changes, but older cars need oil change at least every 3,000 miles. Where a modern vehicle might not need a routine tune-up or service for 25,000 miles, some older vehicles need to be checked and tuned up every 1,000 miles.
Having a professional mechanic perform these services or repairs as needed will not only keep your car in top running shape, it will also provide a paper trail of documentation that can help add resale value to your vehicle if and when you decide to sell it.
2. Convenience and safety - Love owning and driving a classic car but don’t want to get your hands dirty? Hiring out for classic car auto service is definitely your best bet. Not only does it offer the convenience of having someone else perform the work for you (at a cost of course), you’re also avoiding the risk of bloody knuckles or more potentially serious injuries. A qualified classic car mechanic should have the tools, training and equipment necessary to perform vehicle service safely.
3. Tools and equipment – Beyond just the added safety that having the right tools and equipment provides a professional mechanic, those items can also help them get the job done right quickly the first time. Rather than investing in a piece of equipment or tool that you’ll use once or twice in a lifetime by performing a repair yourself, a key benefit to hiring a mechanic is avoiding the investment in tooling up.
4. Saving time and money - Even adamant at-home mechanics can find themselves in a pickle now and again. If you’re facing a particularly challenging repair – especially one that will take a significant amount of time to do correctly – think about hiring out to have the work performed. In many cases, time can be more valuable than money. But you can save money, too, by getting the work done correctly the first time and avoiding the cost of misidentifying what’s needed to correct an issue.
What to look for in a mechanic
1. Make-, model-, or era-specific knowledge and experience – Experience with your classic car’s make, model or era is always the first thing to look for when trying to find the right mechanic for your vehicle. For example, a mechanic who specializes in 1960s trucks probably isn’t the best person to handle service or repairs on a classic European sports car.
2. Solid business principles, customer references and great word of mouth – At a minimum, make sure the business you entrust with your classic car’s service is a business in good standing, which includes making sure the business is properly licensed or registered with your local government. Before agreeing to any type of service, ask for references from previous customers and check them. You’ll also want to check and see what other customers or clients have said about the business by checking their reviews on sites like Angie’s List.
3. A secure site – If everything else checks out, make sure to take a look around the mechanic’s shop before dropping off your vehicle. Where will your vehicle be stored when not being serviced? What’s the security like? Will it be stored indoors or out? How is the lighting?
Questions to ask
You may be used to spending money on keeping your classic car up and running, but make sure its money well spent by asking these types of questions before hiring for classic car service:
1. Experience - What is your experience with my type of vehicle? Will you be doing the majority of the work? How experienced or proficient are any staffers or other mechanics that will be performing work on my vehicle?
2. Specialty – What type of work do you specialize in? How many times have you performed work on my make and model?
3. Cost – How do you charge for your services? By overall estimate? By hourly rate?
4. Communication – How do you plan on contacting me if you encounter any issues, problems or additional expenses? How frequently will you keep in contact regarding the status of repairs?
5. Parts – Where do you get your parts? Are they factory authorized o OEM replacements? Can I provide my own parts? How can I upgrade replacement parts to be more durable?
6. Guarantees or warranties – What kind of guarantees or warranty does your shop offer on parts, labor or service?