In today’s vehicles with the automated and computer controlled systems, most consumers find that they cannot repair or even service their own vehicles. That means you have to find a trusted repair facility to take care of your vehicles maintenance and repairs. Unfortunately, in our “New” economy as the media calls it, the prospect of finding a repair facility is a little harder. A lot of dealerships and repair facilities have closed, definitely something that we have never seen in our generation. This makes the hunt a little more difficult, because you want to find a repair facility that is going to be around to take care of your vehicle and honor their warranty on repairs that have been performed.
To find such a place, it is much like finding a good doctor, dentist, hairstylist, or any other form of service. Referrals are one of the number one ways to find a good repair facility and mechanic. Check with your friends and family that are in your area and see where they have had a good experience. If you are new to the area and have not developed many relationships yet, you can use the internet and check out some of the online consumer referral organizations like Angie’s List and Car Talk. Then once you find a couple you are interested in check the Better Business Bureau to see if they have had a lot of complaints, or if they have unresolved complaints. Showing what type of business ethics this repair facility may have. It is recommended to look for shops with professional designations such as ASA – Automotive Service Association, NATA – National Automotive Trades Association and ASE Automotive Service Excellence.
Don’t wait until your vehicle needs a major service or repair before trying a repair facility. Take your car into a shop for the small things like oil changes, brake inspections and belt replacements. This will help you to get a feel for the repair facility, see if their quality and service is acceptable to you, then you can begin to develop a relationship with the repair facility and their staff.
Some of the things to ask and look for while you are at the repair facility are:
1) What is the repair facilities warranty on parts and labor? The industry standard in our area is 12 months 12,000 miles.
2) Are the technicians ASE Certified? This means the technicians have been tested as to their knowledge in different vehicle systems and have passed the tests.
3) How often are the technicians skills updated? Typically technicians attend several classes each year. You can look for recent completion certificates, many shops post them in their offices or waiting areas.
4) Are the technicians trained and have the tools to work on your vehicle make and model?
5) Does the repair facility have the repair information at their fingertips for your vehicle make and model?
6) Are the repair facilities hours and location convenient for you?
7) Does the repair facility offer shuttle service and have availability for towing and rental car service.
Some of the things that you should expect from the repair facility that you choose are:
1) A full explanation of the repairs and/or services that are needed on your vehicle.
2) A full description of any diagnostic procedures, tests performed and their results.
3) A disclosed estimate on all diagnostic tests and any subsequent repairs should be quoted prior to performing the tasks. This estimate should be available in writing if requested.
4) The repair facility should show interest in maintaining the factory warranties, vehicle longevity and reliability by providing information on proper maintenance services.
Don’t choose a shop based solely on price. Good things aren’t cheap and cheap things aren’t good. There is a difference in quality of parts and workmanship. You should expect a good value for your money spent. Remember if you go on price alone, that business may not be around to honor their warranty if that time comes. Gone are the days of dealerships and repair facilities working on one make of vehicle, as you notice they are all following the independent repair facility business model of working on all makes and models. Again, make sure they have the training and tools for your vehicle make and model.
Even though there has been some bad publicity over the years on the vehicle repair industry, there are a lot of repair facilities that are doing great work, using quality parts, that the owners and staff have a lot of integrity. Once you find that trusted repair facility, have them perform all the maintenance and repairs on your vehicle, you will find that this is the most economical way. They will have complete records on what has been performed and what needs to be done on your vehicle.