Finding a mechanic for an old car in a new city (Toronto)
December 19, 2012 6:43 AM   Subscribe

How can I find a trustworthy mechanic in a new city (Toronto) without breaking the bank?

I have a 2005 Pontiac wave and just moved to Toronto.

I brought my car in to Canadian Tire put in the winter tires and the guy calls me and tells me my brakes need adjusting (100$), my oil needs changing (45$) and, worst of all, I'm leaking coolant ($$$$).

Where/how can I find a trustworthy mechanic?

Should I find a Dealership that **used** to sell pontiacs?

I'm totally clueless about this kind of stuff, and basically the only thing I know is NOT to go to Canadian Tire!
posted by cacofonie to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Toronto is a big city. Where do you live?
posted by Dasein at 6:47 AM on December 19, 2012

Toronto should be big enough to have some play on review sites - check out Yelp, perhaps, or see if the Car Talk Mechanic Files also include your area?
posted by Rallon at 7:04 AM on December 19, 2012

Yes - where do you live?

Without knowing, my suggestion would be to look to see if there's a neighbourhood Yahoo Group, FB Page or forum where people have made recommendations.

That said, I, too, always have older cars and have used this shop for years. They were recommended by a friend who loves me and wouldn't steer me wrong, knowing I have to hit the highway alone with my kid in bad weather sometimes - and they know that too. They're very straight with me, often have creative solutions (when my old 1996 Cavalier was leaking because the hoses were rotted, they custom-made some pipes to get me through another few months until I could swing a new car); and I find them reasonably priced. Many people where I work use them too.
posted by peagood at 7:13 AM on December 19, 2012

I know Canadian Tire auto service has a bad reputation but they've done me a couple of good turns over the years. The things you've mentioned don't seem like horrible expenses. It's better to change your oil too soon, than too late. $45 is cheaper than at a place like Mr. Lube.

If you're near the St. Clair W/ Bathurst area, I like Speedy Auto Service at 660 St. Clair Ave. W.

Carl is very friendly, straightforward and has never recommended anything hugely expensive for my old cars.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:17 AM on December 19, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the responses!

I'm downtown, but would e willing to commute for good service.
posted by cacofonie at 7:31 AM on December 19, 2012

Best answer: Indeed, never Canadian Tire.

I go to Angelos, Dupont (East of Christie), in the lane, north side, opposite the Loblaws parking lot (east along the lane). 416-921-3074. They are in no particular hurry, be patient.

For oil changes ($20.!) and more, Meineke Car Care, 1049 the Queensway, 416_201_0033. They do a many point check...noticed a tire low on pressure (found a nail and patched it), a hose was deteriorating, replaced, $10. Noticed rear license plate bulb burnt out...

Another time, I needed a starter, asap.Had trouble starting, they pinpointed starter dying. Meineke outlined my options, rebuilt or new, it was Fri before a long weekend, rebuilt could be delivered after weekend, tues. I needed the car, went w/new. I popped in on my lunch...they ordered part. Booked appointment for 15:00. Arrived @15:00, done by 17:30. I had to pick someone up at the airport @18:30, I was on a strict deadline. I did bring them espresso's and butter tarts. I was greatful. Gotta say, Angelo wanted more for the part, but labor was cheaper and he couldn't do it asap. Meineke, part was cheaper, labor more, but they delivered! Prices between the 2 garages were close to each other.

Good luck and welcome to tdot!
posted by alicesshoe at 7:45 AM on December 19, 2012

Oh, for radiator, Yorkdale Radiator, 210 Geary Ave. (Duffern and Dupont). They only do radiators.
posted by alicesshoe at 8:06 AM on December 19, 2012

Sammy's on Yonge between Davisville and Eglinton.
posted by Dasein at 9:23 AM on December 19, 2012

Response by poster: So, thanks for all of the help everyone. I ended up going to Angelo's. Holy crap that place looks sketchy from the front! But once I got around behind and saw the jaguars and BMWs sitting around, I relaxed a bit. Angelo was very straightforward. Efficient.

It was actually rather embarrassing. Nothing was actually wrong with the radiator and no coolant was leaking (another strike against canadian tire).It my gas cap that was off that was turning the engine light on.

He charged me 100$ for the check up, which seemed a bit steep, but I was a) relieved my radiator was ok b) embarassed at the gas cap thing, so I didn't raise too much of a fuss.

I think I'd go back.

Maybe I'll ask another question one day about "how to talk to your mechanic without looking like a gigantic bag with a dollar sign on it". Thanks for the help!
posted by cacofonie at 11:55 AM on January 23, 2013

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