Honest/affordable used car mechanic & buying used car advice

Looking for an honest and affordable used car mechanic and advice on how to buy a used car in Albany/Berkeley area. We are looking to get a second car but will need to spend carefully as we are on a budget (but want to spend enough to get a good used car that is reliable, safe for transporting our toddler and doesn't need constant repairing). Don't know a lot about cars so hoping to find a trustworthy mechanic that doesn't break the bank. Also any suggestions on make/model of good used cars smaller in size but big enough for transporting kids and dogs in back?

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I really like Steve's Autocare on San Pablo (across the street from Home Depot).

Great team and service, honest, and decent prices.

Just an anecdote I'll share:
It was years ago so some details may be missing, but here's the gist. Took our van in for service. They noted some rattling or something and recommended a particular fix. This was going to be a few hundred dollars. When I went to pick the car up, Steve met me and said "Hold on for a moment." Went to the back and did some investigation, talked to the team, etc. In the end he came back and basically said "We recommended this service to fix this issue. We've done the service, but the issue is still there, so we aren't going to charge you for it."

They earned a customer for life right there.

Contact T & C Auto Wholesale & Detail at 925-828-3930. I've worked with Thomas over the years and refer to him as my "Car Whisperer." He's extremely knowledgeable about cars. He sells and purchases them at dealer auctions. He's gone way above board to help me as a single mom with two car driving daughters. He's honest, down to earth and kind. It makes no difference that his business operates out of Dublin---totally worth the drive!