If you’re trying to find an auto repair shop, you may already be in a frustrating situation.
You might be having car trouble, and you’re worried it’s going to be costly to repair.
You might also be dealing with the fallout from a car accident. You might have to deal with a claims adjustor, and there’s probably an ongoing process to find out who’s at fault for the accident.
You don’t want to compound an already stressful situation by taking your car for repairs only to feel like you can’t trust the business doing said repairs.
Car repair shops and mechanics do have a reputation for sometimes padding the costs and telling you that your car needs more than what it really does.
Along with the prices, another reason finding a reliable business is important is because you probably can’t go without your car for an extended period of time. You want to work with a repair shop that does what they say they’re going to do, and that does things as quickly as is reasonably possible.
So how can you find an auto repair shop that’s going to be fair on pricing, reliable and trustworthy?
The following are some tips to help.
Know the Types of Repair Shops
It’s a good idea to have an understanding of the general types of car repair shops, so you can be sure you’re choosing one that’s right for your needs.
There are dealer service departments, and the benefit of going to one of these is that the technicians are incredibly knowledgeable about the types of cars they sell. Their factory-trained technicians also know about the newest equipment, and they have access to advisors from the car company.
There are also independent repair shops that tend to be cheaper than dealer repair shops. The quality can vary a lot with independent shops, though, so that’s where researching them beforehand becomes important.
Some independent repair shops specialize in certain things, such as certain types of cars or systems.
Then, of course, there are auto repair chains, and these might be the least expensive option.
Ask For References
Asking your friends and family for references is one of the best ways to start the process of finding a good repair shop. You want someone ethical and honest, so what better place to start than by asking the opinions of people you trust?
You can also ask your employer, particularly if they regularly have work done on company cars.
If you’re a car person, you might be part of a club or group and you can also ask other members who they use for repairs and auto work.
We’re lucky as consumers because we have the ability to research the background of auto repair shops online and get access to all the good and bad information we need to make a decision.
You can go to Angie’s List or use the Mechanics Files on Cartalk.com. To use Angie’s List, you do have to pay for a subscription, but many review services are free.
While online reviews are really helpful, you also need to keep an eye out for potentially fake reviews, whether they’re good or bad.
Even once you find a repair shop you feel like you trust, it might still be a good idea to research the work you need done to make sure they’re giving you a fair estimate.
You shouldn’t go into any car repairs without having some idea of what you should be paying.
Once you have a list of potential repair shops that comes from friends and family recommendations, online or a combination, you should take the time to visit a few of them.
The car repair shop you work with is hopefully going to be a place where you build a relationship.
It can take a lot of the stress out of getting car repairs when you have a relationship with the people doing the work, and you know that you’re in good hands.
A lot of this is going to come from taking the time initially to visit shops and see how they’re operated, and whether or not you get a good feeling from them.
If you visit a shop, your goal should be to determine what their customer service is like, and also the level of technical knowledge and expertise they have, especially with your type of car.
You can ask for a verbal estimate when you visit as well, and if you’ve thoroughly done your online research, you should have a ballpark idea of what it should cost.
When you’re speaking to someone from the repair shop, start by asking how many mechanics are on staff, and what type of formal education or training as well as the experience they have.
The highest level of certification in the industry is the ASE certification.
If a repair shop has a wide body of knowledge, then you’re likely to get better quality work.
You can’t expect that you take your car to an auto body and paint shop and you’re going to get great quality of work in other areas.
You may find that you need multiple repair shops you can count on.
When you go to the auto shop to get an estimate, you might initially get one verbally, and then you should get one in writing. That estimate should provide details of what needs to be done, the parts that are needed, and the estimated timeframe.
You should be able to ask the mechanic to go over exactly what the problem is with you, and you should feel comfortable with their communication style.
Also, know that a reputable and experienced mechanic isn’t going to have any problem answering questions.
Finally, once you drop your car off, you should expect the mechanics to keep you up to date on the progress being made. You should never feel like you’re a bother if you’re checking in, in a reasonable way.