Ask AOA: car mechanics

car engineUpdate: We collected all the recommendations people posted into a list and map.

Emails Alex:

I've recently started to experience some car trouble. I'm relatively new to the area and none of my friends have been here long enough to recommend a good, independent mechanic. I've overpaid at chain shops for too long and I don't want to go to a dealer--can AOA recommend an honest mechanic!?

Anyone have suggestions?

photo: Flickr user Mess of Pottage

Comments

Derek at Capitol Tech Auto on Jefferson Avenue in Albany. He's fair and honest. Friends and I have been going to him for years.

Vince's Garage on Watervliet Ave is a must. Dan (Vince's son, now owner) is friendly, knowledgeable AND even if you are female, talks to you like you have a brain in your head. Won't do anything you don't need, will suggest things you do and will clarify if it's dire or not. True story: after my father (since everyone's dad knows more than any mechanic!) suggested I need new brakes I dropped my car off with Dan. He disassembled/inspected all components, then called and asked why I thought I needed new brakes as mine were fine. Oh, by the way, he never even charged me for the labor/time it took to check everything out AND didn't hold it against me that it was all on my dad's good intentioned but misguided suggestion! Dan rocks!

Depending on your location, the Dunbrook Mobil on Madison is fair and reliable.

I did a post awhile back looking for a mechanic, then another one featuring a great one (KisKis). I strongly recommend KisKis in Latham. They were honest, fair and didn't even charge me when I had them look into something, but nothing was wrong. I know several others who go there as well, and have never heard a complaint.

I go to Tesman's Service Station on Spiegletown Rd. in Troy; they're awesome, they fix everything right the FIRST time, and they don't condescend at all. On the occasions it's been a quick fix w/minimal labor time (like just resetting something that looked worrisome,) they haven't charged me. They're not cheap when they *do* have something that needs fixing, but they don't gouge you on price either, and again, they do it *right* the first time. If you ever need another recommendation for a good mechanic in an unfamiliar area, go to the Car Talk radio show website, and look under their "mechanic files"; that's how I found Tesman's!

http://www.cartalk.com/content/mechx/find.html

X2 on Derek at Capitol Tech Auto. He (and she - Jean) have done same day service for major work at a fair price- got an AC compressor, catalytic converter, struts installed plus an oil change all in 1 day (scheduled in advance, though). I won't go anywhere else.

If you schedule it right, you can get an oil change and kill the time across the street at the Palaise Royale Bar and Grill (playing the jukebox, of course!) until it's done.

Evertt Auto talk to John. The man is wonderful. 518-446-1936

He helpe me out when I was in town and one of my guy friends swears by him.

Not sure if I should share. I never have trouble getting my car right in when needed and I like it that way! ;-)

Oh, all right, in Schenectady make sure to check out Superior Body Works on Foster Avenue -- 377-3511. I trust these guys and they always do good work for a reasonable price.

Baker's up in Ballston Spa is awesome. Explain everything and always get it right.

I'm in the same boat as Alex, so thanks for all the recommendations! One thing I hate about moving is the loss of your reliable mechanics/plumbers/electricians and not knowing who to trust in a new locale.

Albany Light Truck and Auto Repair. 437-0304 They're on Anderson Dr., near Everett Rd.

I had been taking my car to a mechanic for 3 months because I was having daily "no starts". This mechanic kept trying different things and still couldn't figure it out. I took it to ALT and they were able to diagnose right away. I've been going ever since. Their labor rates are reasonable. Vinny will diagnose the vehicle, then call to let you know exactly what needs to be repaired. He'll also make recommendations and give a quote.

I've had great experiences with Broadway Auto, formerly on Broadway and now in Menands.

I've always had good luck with Hackel's VW on central, but if you're not driving a VW or audi, you might want to look elsewhere, since they're specialized and all... =D

Albany Foreign Auto on Catherine St in Albany is really good and if you have a Saab, especially on older model, Lorette's Autocare in Castleton-on-Hudson is excellent.

Mark's Automotive on 146 in Clifton Park is good if you're in the area.

Second the recommendation on Tessmans. Local folks, great service, honest, even to the point of turning me away with 'That's too big a job for us take it to the dealer'. Awesome.

Larry's Foreign Auto.
http://bit.ly/LarrysRocks

I've got horror stories about many auto repair shops: Dunbrook has water and sand in their gas, Kost Tire put RTV sealant on my thermostat causing my radiator to rupture, Broadway Auto Clinic charged me $500 for a throwout bearing job they never performed.

I've heard only good things about Vince's, never been.

The only repair shop I've ever trusted after my long series of disapointments? Larry's Foriegn Auto Service on Excahnge St. in Albany. They only repair Honda, Acura, Toyota, Mazda and Volvo. They know their stuff, fair prices, honest service, good rep.

There's my two cents.

I second the recommendations for Tesman's, Mark's, and Larry's. I've used them all at various times and been very happy.

They might be a little out of the way for downtown Albany residents, but John Foley's Garage in Voorheesville is the most honest, reasonable and friendly place I know. I've seen them work on everything - from classic, show cars to an everyday sedan.

Check them out:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=5859+Depot+Rd,+Altamont,+NY&sll=42.683224,-73.964403&sspn=0.004243,0.006856&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=16

If you're in the Delmar / New Scotland / Slingerlands area, Joe Kaiser ( (New Scotland Auto) is a gentleman, skilled, honest, and reasonable. I have a Volvo but they work on all cars. http://www.newscotlandauto.com

Greg and the gang at Autobahn Centre (behind the Honest Weight Food Coop) are great to work with. Audi/ VW /Merc/ BMW / Rover / and probably others. Oddly enough they have a myspace page..
http://www.myspace.com/autobahncentre

Hey everyone, I submitted the original question-- thanks for all the input so far. As a Center Square person with a Toyota, I'm probably going to wind up hitting Larry's or Capitol Tech, but keep the responses coming!

After shopping around for a while after moving here, I have used Vince's Garage on Watervliet Ave for a couple of years, and I, too, am very happy. Danny always remembers me and my cars, and even though my husband and I are not mechanical, he never makes us feel dumb. His prices are way better than the dealers, and he was able to fix a ton of minor oil leaks on a 15-year-old car that other decent mechanics were never able to completely fix. He is also a nice guy, and doesn't intimidate you even when you KNOW you've treated your car poorly before bringing it in to him!

He also will tell you what to watch for and when to bring your back in if he thinks it's something that might cause trouble in the future. He lets you know the status of other parts of your car that he isn't working on and when you might reasonably expect them to need replacement if he notices wear on them.

My only complaint is that he is often booked up, and it can take several days to get your car in.

Oh, and I really wanted to like Dunbrook on Madison because it was so convenient to be able to pick up and pay for the repairs at any time of the day or night, but it seemed our repairs were never exactly right. I know other people that like Dunbrook, but they all have more exotic cars then mine, so maybe the mechanics were just bored working on my Toyotas.

I go to Sergo Auto, off of Quail st. The owners are brothers, and really good about explaining why you need repairs and their prices are good.

The ultimate, hidden-in-the-middle-of-everything, honest mechanic is Jerry Lawton of Lawton's Automotive on West St. in Albany. Fair man, honest about the work, reasonable price. The shop is next door to Bob's Body and Fender, who, while we're making recs, we would whole-heartedly recommend for any body repair work.

I second Kristi's Kiskis recommendation - they've always done right by me.

Lately, I've been going to LaBarge's in Latham, since they're closer to home, and they've been fantastic. Excellent prices, everyone really seems to know what they're doing, not in the least bit rude or condescending even though I'm a woman who knows less than nothing about cars, and once, when my car door froze open and wouldn't shut, they fixed it for free. They won me over right there!

Thanks AOA... this post caused my muffler to fall off last night :) good timing!

Bills Auto on Bradford Street in Albany - convenient, respectful with females, reasonable, honest, and quick.
I have used them for 15 yrs on assorted hondas, subaru, and such...

I'm a big fan of Fast Bob's Slightly Used British Cars and LeMons Racers, but komradebob might have something to say about that...

Watkins Spring at 368 Central Avenue in Albany. I have recommended at least 20 people there and as far as I know nobody has looked anywhere else. Great service and the mechanics really take pride in what they do. If I am not mistaken it is the oldest business on Central Ave (opened in 1908-still in same location) and I cannot emphasize enough how great they are.

These are all great suggestions that will come in handy now that my steering wheel has decided to shake like a chihuahua every time I go over 65 mph. My question is, which one of them will take homemade dinners & desserts as a form of payment? I can even give references regarding the quality of my cooking. I'd offer to pay with an organ but I have to save those for when I pay for gas.

My Volvo wagon is acting up, so I was thrilled to find this thread..I see Larry's specializes in Volvos, but wondering if anybody knows of other good Volvo mechanics in the area. Would prefer Latham area or southern Saratoga Cty, but willing to travel for the right shop.
Thx!

Stark's Muffler in Saratoga (Excelsior & East Avenues). Stark is the most honest & resourceful mechanic I've ever met. For example, he once saved me $2,000 on a catalytic convertor for my Subaru. Midas said the whole thing had to be replaced but Stark merely welded a steel collar onto the corroded part & it was good as new.

Mark's Auto in Clifton Park has been great and relaible. We have had family and friends going there for 30 years and there has never been a problem they haven't been able to fix. They service all makes and models, have towing if you need it, and the son (also Mark) is very friendly and understanding.

Certainly for Volvo work, Randy's Auto in Rensselaer is great. He's very up front and direct about what needs to be done but doesn't jerk you around. Prices are very fair. Excellent turn around time. Highly recommend.

+1 for Vince's. Took Olivia Quillio's casually-purchased first car there in an emergency, on the advice of a family-friend who's rather a fixer, the kind of fellow who's got a guy for everything. Straight service, square business. I'll go back. Recommended.

As mentioned above, the proprietor is Dan. Good man. Next time I'll bring them something from Nino's around the corner on Central.

LQ

I can't rave enough about the folks at Autobahn Centre. Competent, reliable, and trustworthy. And they have a real website now! www.autobahncentre.com

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