Al's Garage

  • 4.6 of 5 stars
59 reviews

100 S Merritt Mill Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27510, us

(919) 967-3016


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They are always honest
They are competent
Their repair price is reasonable
They complete the work in a timely manner
They respond well when they screw something up
They take the time to explain the problems and necessary repairs
They treat male and female customers in the same manner
They are always honest
I would use this mechanic again
I would recommend this mechanic to others
They fix the problem the first time
The shop is located in a safe neighborhood
The hours of operation are convenient for customers
They are near public transportation (or provide loaners, shuttle bus, rides as needed)
Sep 06, 2002
Good folks. I trust them.
Jul 31, 2003
  • N/A
They won't work on Hondas with automatic transmissions. They said they prefer to do what they do best.
Nov 07, 2011
  • N/A
Dec 21, 2004
On more than one occasion, Al has told me that I did not need a costly repair (that another place told me I needed or when I thought something was wrong with my car). I find that impressive. On top of that, he will personally explain to you, not only what was done to your car, but what caused the problem how that part of the car works and anything else you want to know about it. The rest of the staff is nice and knowledgeable, and yes, they do work on automatic Honda civics (they worked on mine for 7 years before I moved - I don't know why someone said they wouldn't). I wish Al had a branch in my new home town. Fortunately, he lets me call with questions me call with questions now that I moved (Al is easier to get to in a timely manner than the Car Guys!).
Nov 07, 2011
Jul 05, 2008
In the 8 years I lived in NC, I was a repeat customer at Al's for the last six. I recently moved to CA and regret that I can't take Al's with me! All of the staff I ever talked to were extremely knowledgable, but they never tried BSing when they didn't know something. My favourite Al's anecdote demonstrates their honesty. I realised the seatbelt on my 90 civic wasn't locking when you tugged on it hard - kind of defeats the purpose of seatbelts. So first I called a local dealer to ask how much it would cost to replace - IIRC they quoted me $300, without mentioning anything else. So I called Al's to see if they could do it any cheaper. They told me that was what it cost to replace, but that I shouldn't have to pay that - Honda's have a lifetime guarantee on seatbelts. They told me to take the car to the dealership and tell them I want it replaced under the guarantee. Sure enough, when I asked the dealer this was, they replaced the seatbelt for free! In this situation, Al's chose to save me $300, and loose out on a job they could have done, if they were more economical with the truth (like the dealership). To me this is testament to their honesty and integrity. They seem to understand that if you treat customers with respect, then they will likely be repeat customers. I could complain about their prices, but I don't think I'd get the high level of service they offer any cheaper anywhere else (at least not in Chapel Hill or Carrboro). My 93 accord is stiil running like new at 150k miles, and my 90 civic ran great at 220k miles when I sold it. This is testament in part to the quality of this vintage of honda, but also the quality work Al's have done over years. Thanks Al!
Oct 23, 2008
I would not own a car that Al and Don and their other staff would not work on. They LOVE to explain how your car works and are completely open about their reasoning when trying to think through what could be producing whatever problem you are reporting. They want YOU to understand it and to appreciate that sometimes all they can give is a probability estimate about whether a small noise or problem may turn in to a serious problem eventually. I have sent many people new to the community to them, some quite sophisticated about mechanics and some total idiots, and everyone has loved them. These are the best of the breed, I promise!
Jul 24, 2010
A short while after moving to Chapel Hill, I needed to replace the catalytic converter on my car. Because I was new to the area, I knew that I would have a hard time finding a good, honest mechanic. I was apprehensive about having to find a mechanic, because I knew that if I just happened to pick the wrong one, then I would end up with more problems than just a blown catalytic converter, and I would have wasted a lot of money. So I called around to get bids on what it would cost to replace a catalytic converter. After calling about five places, I called Al's, and they were able to quote me a price that was about $100 cheaper than other places (especially the local Honda Dealer). It made me wonder if there was some catch, but I tried them anyway. It quickly became apparent that they were more interested in providing a good, cheap service than trying to wring every dollar out of me that they could. I have since used them several times, except in the few cases where they could not fix my problem, but in those cases, they could always point me to a specialist who could fix my problem. They also always take the time to explain the problem in great detail, and make sure I understand what is wrong with my car and how they are going to fix it. If more mechanics were like these guys, then mechanics would be among some of the most trusted professionals, as opposed to among the least trusted.
Jul 12, 2011
DON'T KNOW THEIR BUSINESS AND WON'T REPAIR THE DAMAGE THEY DO. We have a 1995 SW2 Saturn wagon that died from what turned out to be a bad alternator. Initially, we replaced the battery and it fired back up, but the battery warning light suggested we had an alternator problem. We took it to Al's garage for confirmation of the alternator problem, which he did, and an estimate for the repair. He could only give us a wide range for the repair costs, $330-$430, because he didn't know how long it would take to do the repair, thus how much labor he would end up charging us. They should know how long it takes- there's a cost book somewhere with repair times for all the different repairs -THEY SHOULD KNOW. Even his low price seemed high so I called another shop (the now defunct Saturn dealer repair shop), and they quoted ~$300. Rather getting caught with paying his guys to learn how to replace a Saturn alternator, we opted for the other shop to do the repair, paid Al his $25 for his estimate and arranged to pick up the car Friday night after they closed. I arrived that evening, the battery still had sufficient juice and it started right up. But when I went to shift gears on the manual, the linkage between the shifter and the gearbox had been broken. The shifter just floated with no way to change gears. The other shop was going to repair the alternator on Sat AM, but now we had to leave it at Al's for the weekend. I had to wait until Monday to "discuss" this with Al. His response to the broken linkage: it's an old car, wear and tear, your problem. He'd be happy to get the parts in and give me a reasonable price for the repair. If someone damages your car, they should repair it. I told him as much, but he claimed I was scamming him. Rather than give this ????. (fill in the blank with your own #@) another penny of my money, I arranged to have it towed to the other shop. Estimates- alternator $280- cheaper than his low estimate even with the Al's $25 diagnostic fee thrown in- actual final cost at the second shop: $260. Repair cost for linkage damage as a result of taking it to Al's garage- $275. You do the math on why you should avoid Al's garage??. Feel free to take it to him if you like to be taken advantage of and to the cleaners to boot.

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