Whether your car has completely broken down or you simply need to get your tires aligned, it is a good idea to do your research before choosing a repair shop. There is a lot to take into consideration before making your decision, such as what others have to say about the repair shop, what they charge for regular services, and whether or not you trust them. As long as you know what to look out for and what to ask, finding a quality automotive repair shop should be relatively simple.
Beginning Your Search
Ideally, you will want to begin your search before your car is need of repairs. Unfortunately, emergencies can happen. Many of us need transportation daily to get to our jobs or pick up kids from after school activities, and this can cause us to make hasty decisions. Even if this is the case, it’s important that you avoid choosing the first automotive repair shop that catches your eye. Even a little bit of research will help you make an informed decision!
Finding Automotive Repair Shops Online
When you begin your search for a mechanic, you should start by searching online. Type in your zip code and “automotive repair shop” to see the options that are close by. Take care to ignore the sponsored ads that appear in search engines such as Google. Now that you have some options, it’s time to do some investigating. Here is what you should be checking for on the car mechanic’s website:
Certification: Automotive shops should have mechanics that are certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). If their website doesn’t state this outright, you can give them a call and ask.
Reviews: Online reviews from Yelp and Angie’s List can give you valuable insight into how an automotive repair shop does business. Good customer service is a must in any car repair shop, and you can see the complaints and praise of previous customers to make a better decision. If reoccurring problems keep appearing in the online reviews, it might be a good idea to steer clear from that business.
Services and Prices: When you visit each car repair shop’s website, make sure that the business offers a wide range of services that will get your car up and running again. Preventative maintenance is necessary in order to keep your car in good shape, and the car repair shop that you choose should offer preventative maintenance services.
Contacting the Shop
Whether you are just giving the shop a call or visiting in person, it’s a good idea to have questions ready so that you can learn as much about them as possible. It is recommended that you visit the shop in person so that you can decide whether or not you feel comfortable doing business with them.
Questions to Ask Your Mechanic
Your questions may be unique based on any specific problem that your car is having, but you should also ask these questions:
Pricing: Ask how the pricing works at the automotive repair shop. Do they charge a flat rate, or does the mechanic charge based on how many hours they worked? Is there a diagnostic charge? If you need work done, can you get a written estimate? Are there any deals that you can take advantage of? Some places, such as Action Gator Tire, have coupons for services that will help lower the cost.
Experience: Have they worked on your make and model of car before? Are they ASE certified? How long have you been in business?
Services: Do they specialize in any services? Will they honor your car’s warranty? Can you choose between old and new parts if your car needs them? Are they willing to explain why your car needs certain services and parts?
Questions to Ask Yourself
Now that you have asked the mechanic questions, it’s time to ask yourself some questions. One of the most important aspects of choosing a mechanic is trust. Do you trust this business to fix your car and not try to sell you unnecessary parts and services? Do they use scare tactics when they diagnose your car? If your friends and family have any experience with them, what good and bad things to they have to say? When you visit the shop, take the time to observe how they interact with other customers. Mechanics who are friendly and prompt are a good sign in an automotive repair shop.
Learn Basic Car Maintenance
Many people are rightfully concerned that their mechanic may try to sell them something that they don’t need. To reduce this risk, it is a good idea for all vehicle owners to learn how to detect some common car issues and basic preventative maintenance. You will feel so much more comfortable when it comes to choosing a mechanic when you know some car basics.
Whip out the manual: Every car should come with an owner’s manual that tells you important information, such as when to change the oil or air filters.
Check your car regularly: Make sure that your car is not leaking fluid or that the check engine light is on. Routinely check the engine oil and coolant level, and don’t forget to check your tire pressure.
Learn prices for certain services: Google services for your specific make and model of car so that you can have an idea of the average prices of those services. This will help you make sure that you aren’t being ridiculously over-charged.
Investing in a Quality Automotive Repair Shop
It doesn’t take an enormous amount of time to research automotive repair shops for your car, and you will be glad that you did. Your car is a pretty big investment, so it is critical that you find a mechanic that will not only answer all of your questions, but one that makes you feel comfortable doing business with them in the long run.