Despite what you may have been told to the contrary, finding a quality car repair shop in isn’t impossible. Truth be told, there are plenty of honest and reliable shops to be found all over. But choosing one at random can be a potentially costly game of roulette. So how can you tell the good guys from the bad guys? Here are a few helpful tips for things to look for. Keep in mind our tips may take extra time, but you could wind up saving a lot of money and aggravation.
- Look at their years in service. Sure, an auto repair shop that just opened their doors last year may be able to deliver world-class service. But if you’re trying to determine just how reputable a shop is, finding out how long they’ve been in business is critical – auto repair shops that aren’t reputable and provide lousy service won’t be in business for long. If you’re looking at a shop that’s been in existence since your parents were in their diapers, it’s far less likely you’ll get ripped off. (Bonus tip: find out how long the repair shop has had the same name. Sometimes, disreputable mechanics go through names like movie stars through spouses in an effort to disassociate themselves with prior P.R. issues. Find someone who’s been operating for decades under the same name, however, and you’re off to a great start.)
- Check to see if they’re listed with the Better Business Bureau. It’s important to note that not all businesses are registered with the BBB, and failing to be shouldn’t be taken as indication that they’re going to rip you off. But if you opt to only work with repair shops that you can dial up at the BBB website, you’ll be in a far better position to check their overall ratings with respect to any complaints they’ve received in the past.
- Look for other organizational involvement. The BBB isn’t the be-all end-all! Look for association with organizations like the SAE (which stands for Society of Automotive Engineers) or ASP (Automotive Service Professionals). While you’re at it, check to see if the auto repair shop in question is affiliated with AAA. Usually a triple-A sticker will indicate this, but you can certainly cut to the chase and ask the shop directly – those who do boast proud affiliation with these various organizations won’t be shy to tell you all about it. It’s your car, after all, and you only want the most qualified people working on it.
- Get online and do your research. You can find a wealth of information about local car repair shops just by getting online and Googling (or Binging, if you prefer) “car repair reviews [add your city here].” Visit online message boards and pay attention to overall sentiments. In other words, don’t just listen to one disgruntled customer’s complaint and base your decision off that. Look for more balanced opinions and be aware that you may not be getting both sides of the story through an online review.
- Ask around. Never forget this choice bit of advice when trying to determine where to take your car to have it serviced. The fact is, when people get bad service, they remember who gave it to them – and they’ll never hesitate to tell anyone who’ll listen. But the same goes for great service. When someone’s treated well by an auto repair shop, they’ll pay it back by talking up that shop for all it’s worth. So talk to your friends, family, co-workers, and even acquaintances you know through social media channels and ask them who they’d recommend… as well as who they’d advise you to not step within 10 feet of.
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