I never took auto shop in school and know almost nothing about cars, so every time I hear a noise or see a dashboard light, I brace myself (and my wallet) for the inevitable trip to a mechanic. Like hairdressers, babysitters, and doctors, a good mechanic is a rare find. Trusting your transportation to a mechanic is less stressful than trusting your child with a babysitter, but in Los Angeles where cars are (almost) the only way to get around town, being carless is high on the list of stressful situations. Being a woman who knows nearly nothing about cars doesn't help; I am a walking stereotype (like a naive sheep waiting to be fleeced).
I figured men with vintage cars would know the best mechanics, so I asked them where they took their cars for service; they referred me to Prestige Auto in Mar Vista. I needed a 30K service on my import; when I got my car back I thought they had replaced my old car with a new one because it ran so much better. I asked them what they did and they gave me a 15 point list of all the work they had done. The best part was at the bottom of the worksheet; the price was 30-50% less than what two dealers had quoted me for a major service (which did not include as many items as Prestige does for their clients).
One very nice bonus for women here is that this is a small family run business and the woman who answers the phone for service inquiries does her best to earn and keep your business; she explains the details without condescension, she works in as much of a discount as she can, and she lets you know the realistic time it will take to perform the service.
I no longer worry about my car now that I know a good mechanic, now it's time to find a good babysitter for my friends' kids so I can eat a grown up meal with them.