Guest View: Finding a mechanic you can trust

One day, back in 2001, I heard an unwelcome noise coming from the back of my car. I needed to find an honest mechanic who would not charge me a fortune. When a friend of mine recommended Reber & Foley Service Center, a car repair facility in St. Charles that has been in business since 1944, I was hopeful that I had found the right mechanic.

Reber & Foley is one of the few remaining businesses left from the 1940s in St. Charles, and I have now been their customer for 15 years. The reason is that they are honest; they do quality work; and they are unassuming and easy to talk to.

Back in the 1940s, the Fox Valley was a small community where everybody knew each other, and things ran at a slower pace. In 1963, Mark Foley was 12 years old when he started working for his dad. At the time, the shop was a full-service station, and it was Mark’s job to greet the customers, who he knew by name, and to check cars’ oil and gas, and to clean windshields. It was meaningful work for a 12-year-old boy.

Over the years, the shop has had many loyal customers for life. Some, who have moved to places such as Chicago, DeKalb and as far as western Illinois, still bring their cars back to Reber & Foley to get them repaired.

I wanted to give people some help in finding an honest mechanic, so I sat down with Mark and Joe Jakubaitis, Mark’s business partner for about 21 years, to ask them for their advice.

Mark suggested word of mouth as the best way to find a good mechanic, or Googling “car repair shop” reviews for shops in the area. After you have found a mechanic you think you can trust, build a relationship with him because once he gets to know you and your budget, he can let you know what work is needed and when.

“Cars don’t last forever, and car components don’t last forever, but certain components can wear and not be a safety issue,” Joe said. “A dishonest mechanic might lead you to believe that something is a safety issue when it is not. If it doesn’t feel right, or if you have any doubts or concerns about what a mechanic is telling you, get a second opinion.”

Mark put it simply: “You can’t be partially honest. You’re either honest or you’re not.”

To find more information on the cost of repairs, Google “car forums” for the make of your car and you will find what others have paid for the same repair work that you are having done on your car.

As stressful as it is to bring your car in to be repaired, it helps when you are sure the mechanic you have chosen has your best interests in mind.

Russell Altersohn is married and has two children. He is a personal trainer who works with the senior population. He enjoys the outdoors, writing and traveling. Feedback on this column can be sent to

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Reber And Foley Service Center is located at 904 E. Main St. in St. Charles. For more information about its services and history, visit For more information, call 630-584-0440.