Finding a Quality Auto Repair Shop

Finding a Quality Auto Repair Shop

Finding A Quality Auto Repair Shop

by Tony Molla ASE

New to your town or city? Looking for a good auto repair shop?

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the non-profit organization that tests and certifies the competence of individual automotive repair technicians, knows a thing or two about selecting a vehicle repair facility.

Whether you are new in town or you are just looking for a new shop, the experts at ASE offer some guidelines to help take some of the anxiety out of your search:

  • Look for a repair facility before you need one; you can make better decisions when you are not rushed.
  • Ask friends, co-workers and associates for recommendations.
  • Consult local consumer organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and chambers of commerce, about the reputation of the shop. Inquire about the number, nature and resolution of complaints.
  • Search online for business reviews and visit the shop’s Facebook page if one is available. You can learn a lot about a business and its team by reading social media.
  • Look for a tidy, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays. You likely won’t find hospital-clean conditions, but consider whether the facility’s image and level of professionalism meet your needs.
  • Don’t make your selection based solely on location convenience.
  • Determine if the shop works on your vehicle make and model or performs the types of repairs you need. Some facilities specialize.
  • Look for signs of technician competence. The customer area should display trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced coursework and ASE certifications — a nationally recognized standard of technician competence — for all the employees.
  • Does the business have a sense of community? Service awards, plaques for civic involvement, customer service awards, membership in the Better Business Bureau and other consumer groups is a good indicator.
  • Professionally run establishments will have a courteous, helpful staff. The manager, service writer, or technician should be willing to answer your questions thoroughly.
  • Labor rates, fees for testing and diagnostic work, guarantees, methods of payment, etc. should be posted in the front office/waiting room.
  • Ask for the names of a few customers as references. Call them.
  • Start with a small or minor job, such as an oil change or tire rotation. Reward good service with repeat business and more complex work.

Look for the Blue Seal

ASE also recognizes some of the best automotive repair shops through its Blue Seal of Excellence program.

How To Find a Great Auto Service Shop

How to Find a Great Auto Service Shop

What you should look for in finding a great car mechanic

by Consumer Reports: October 2014

Whether you moved, changed car brands, had a bad experience, or your preferred car dealership closed, there are many options for tending to your car maintenance and repair needs.

Based on annual surveys, we find consumers generally have a higher level of satisfaction with independent shops over car dealerships.

If your car is under warranty, you will still need to go to a dealership for warranty repairs, but you won’t need to go to the dealership for routine maintenance. Under federal law you have the right to have repairs performed anywhere you like without voiding the warranty.

But identifying a mechanic you can trust for your car takes a lot more than letting your fingers do the walking. You have to do a little old-fashioned sleuthing. There’s no single clue to what makes a good repair shop, but here are some things you should look for.

Find a shop for your brand of car

Many garages specialize in certain makes. Those that focus on your type are more likely to have the latest training and equipment to fix your vehicle.

Ask your family and friends

Especially seek recommendations from those who have a vehicle similar to yours.

Search the Internet

Look for information about local mechanics on Angie’s List, the Consumer Reports car repair estimator, and the Mechanics Files at Cartalk.com. Cartalk.com provides those services free, Angie’s List requires a subscription, the car repair estimator is free for Consumer Reports’ online subscribers.

Check for certifications

Your mechanic and shop should be certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE.

Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Auto repair shops rank 12th on the bureau’s list of common complaints. Go to www.bbb.org; the information you find might help you figure out which shops you should avoid.

Give the shop a tryout

Before your car needs a big repair, you might want to try out some local shops with smaller repairs or maintenance items, such as oil and filter changes.

Ask about warranties

What kind of guarantees does the shop give on repair work? Warranties can vary greatly among shops, so ask about them ahead of time. Use a common repair, such as brake work, as your guide.

Make sure the shop is convenient

Even the best shop might not be worth the effort if its hours conflict with your schedule or you have few transportation options after you drop off the car.