How to Choose the Right Repair Shop
Today’s cars are more computerized than the Apollo 11 spaceship was. Electronic controls monitor everything from road-sensing systems to engine performance to anti-lock brakes. Cars run more economically and are safer, but repairing them is not as simple as it used to be. That is why choosing the right repair shop is more important than ever before.
What you should do:
Ask friends and neighbors for suggestions. If your friends know a shop that is honest and reasonably priced, their experiences are worth drawing from. It is important to be prepared and select a reputable repair shop before you are faced with an emergency situation.
Check to see if the shop is accredited by the Motorist Assurance Program (MAP). MAP is an industry-sponsored organization that has established Uniform Inspection and Communication Standards for inspecting vehicles and recommending repairs, as well as standards of service for proper treatment of customers.
Make sure the shop has a variety of service equipment, tools, service manuals, and technical bulletins so mechanics have access to the information and computer equipment needed to repair your vehicle properly.
What Types of Repair Shops Are There?
New car dealerships are where you should go for service on components under manufacturer’s warranty.
Specialty shops are often franchised
operations which provide repairs and replacements of items such as: brakes, exhaust systems, tires, transmissions or engines.
Independent repair shops are usually owned locally and may provide a full range of auto services or specialize in routine aintenance repairs like oil changes, belts, batteries, etc. They often are one-shop operations.
Mass merchandisersoften specialize in high-volume repairs such as brakes, batteries, tires, etc.
Service stationsoffer routine maintenance, such as oil changes and replacement of filters and belts. Over the past two decades, the full-service bays in gas stations have frequently been replaced by convenient food markets or fast food outlets.
What Your Mechanic Should Know
It is important that you trust the mechanic who works on your car.
Ask if the mechanics in the shop you select are certified by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Also, ask your mechanic what specialties he or she is certified in and if that certification is current. Mechanics can be certified in brakes, heating and air conditioning, engine service, suspension and steering and electrical work /electronic systems.
The mechanic should conduct a thorough inspection of your vehicle’s condition and discuss his or her findings with you so you can make an informed decision.
There are two categories of repair:
Requiredbecause the part in question is no longer providing the function for which it is intended, does not meet a design pecification or is missing.
Suggested because the part is near the end of its life, for preventive maintenance or for performance improvement.
In addition to technical expertise, it is important to be able to communicate with the mechanic in terms you can understand. If you don't understand a term he or she uses or have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. You are paying for a service and it is important you understand exactly what is being done and why. To help you we have included a glossary of terms on pages 7 and 8.