How to Spot a Top-Notch Auto Shop

When it comes time to have your vehicle serviced, it’s completely normal to experience a myriad of emotions. There is often confusion over what to repair, anxiety about getting the job done right and fear that you will go to the wrong mechanic. You aren’t alone in your quest to find the right auto repair shop.

If you’re like most Americans who don’t know where to turn when a dashboard light pops up or your brakes start squealing, you probably start by calling a handful of shops nearby hoping to get the answers you need. After explaining the problem several times, getting overpriced service quotes, or not receiving a phone call back at all, you might wonder where to turn next.

Unfortunately, stereotypes add another layer of complication in finding the right mechanic. In the male-dominated auto repair industry, a common assumption is that women don’t know as much (or anything) about cars. Studies have shown that, because of this stereotype, women are more likely to be overcharged than men. We recently covered this issue in Top Problems Women Face at the Auto Shop and How to Avoid Them.

If you’ve ever felt taken advantage of when you’ve gone for car maintenance or auto care, you aren’t alone. In fact, it’s the entire reason Openbay launched in the first place.  Founder and CEO, Rob Infantino, knows the trials and tribulations of auto repair all too well. Rob took his car to the dealership for a simple wheel alignment that should have only cost about $200. Then to his surprise, the service advisor handed him a 12-page estimate of “necessary” repairs amounting to $4000. Rob knows cars, spending  time working in a pit crew on modified stock cars and working on his own cars, so he politely declined and left the shop. He told himself there had to be a better way to avoid the hassle and stress of auto repair. When he didn’t find one, Rob made it his mission to build the world’s most trusted and transparent automotive services marketplace.

Finding a Qualified Repair Shop

Regardless of your car knowledge, we will walk you through the process from start to finish. Follow these simple steps from an ASE Certified Master Technician to take the guessing and stressing out of auto repair and maintenance:

Before you go to the shop:

Look for certifications: You want a shop that displays their ASE, Manufacturer and Mechanical certifications. Every provider within the Openbay Network must have ASE, Manufacturer or Mechanical certified technicians. These certifications ensure that the auto mechanics are knowledgeable about your vehicle and up to date on all their training. In addition, they must also offer a parts and/or service warranty.

Research with the Better Business Bureau (BBB): Don’t be afraid to check up on a shop by using the BBB ratings. The BBB provides insightful information to reflect a business’s reputation.

Check your warranty: If your vehicle currently has a warranty, you want to verify what you must do for repairs. Sometimes, the fix has to be performed by the dealer. Violating the warranty spells trouble, so make sure you do your research. Keep all the receipts that prove you’ve followed your car manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and you’re golden.

Pick a shop that specializes in your vehicle: With a focus on a particular make, the technicians at that shop are better trained and equipped to handle your needs. While that might not be important for maintenance or small repairs, it’s something to consider when undergoing significant repairs with the engine, transmission or drivetrain. With Openbay, you get to search based on your make, model and trim to find the provider that fits your needs.

Do your homework (or let us do it for you): All providers in the Openbay network are required to offer transparent pricing and high-quality customer service. Sure, you could do all the research yourself, but why spend all that time duplicating the work that we’ve already done? Within a few clicks, Openbay sends you customized service estimates based on your needs and location. Plus, you’ll have access to customer reviews and you can book an appointment online. Look for the Openbay Recommended icon, and you know that you found one of the top service providers in your area.

Know what you need: Mechanics know you don’t spend your rainy days reading your car’s manual, so they might suggest you need certain services based on your car’s mileage. Take a minute to look up your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, either in your manual or online, so you know whether you need what they suggest. If they’re telling you it’s time for a brake flush, look online for what you need and tell them you know otherwise. An educated customer is the best kind of customer.

At the shop

Be perceptive: You can learn a lot about any business simply by looking around. When you get to the shop, take a look at the parking lot. You should see plenty of other vehicles waiting for repair, of equal or higher value to yours. Also, the building and equipment should be modern and updated. A tidy waiting room with clearly marked labor rates is another must-have.

Get references: If for any reason, you still aren’t sure you should move forward, ask the shop for some references. You can call clients and verify that other satisfied customers trust the company.

Use the “Show Me” method: Before you move forward on any repairs, you should always understand what the problem is. When your mechanic tells you something’s broken, say, “Show me.” Head into the garage together and take a look. Most times, necessary maintenance is visible – brake pads will be carved up; exhaust pipes will have holes; leaks will be visible. A good mechanic will gladly take the time to walk you through the car to show you what you need. If you don’t understand technical terms, they are there to be your teacher. Openbay providers are always willing to go the extra mile for you, ensuring no repairs are performed until you fully comprehend the situation. Some Openbay shops even send customers videos via text showing the service, with descriptions, being conducted on the car in real time.

Perform a small task first: Ideally, you want to find a shop before something major happens. We recommend scheduling an oil change, car inspection or another maintenance job with a potential repair technician before anything else. This gives you the chance to try out the service and see how everything works out. If you are uncomfortable with the price, service or shop itself during this time, it’s best to know this before you need major work done.

Take notice of the service you receive: A quality shop has a helpful, courteous staff. Your service writer should be personable and friendly as well.

Keep track of your maintenance: Sometimes this means keeping receipts for all your recent repairs. If that’s the case, they’re probably spilling out of your glovebox. Luckily, in the digital age, you can store your vehicle maintenance history online when you book with Openbay. The ability to quickly look up recent service means you can decline any duplicate service your mechanic might suggest. Also, keeping all your maintenance and repair records might even help you sell your used car down the line.

After the repairs

You might think that your work is done when your car is done, but now it’s your turn to help others.

Did you love your experience? Then keep going back. It’s beneficial for you and the shop owner when you can establish an ongoing relationship. If you book your next appointment on Openbay, you’ll earn rewards to use towards future service.

If you find that the service didn’t meet your expectations, don’t immediately write off the company. There’s no benefit in being hasty and running to the next shop. Instead, attempt to discuss the situation with the owner or service manager. This action allows them the chance to resolve your problem. Any reputable shop takes customer feedback seriously and is willing to take steps to ensure your satisfaction.

Once you’ve had a positive experience at one location, make sure you spread the word. Your words, whether in the form of a written review or a word-of-mouth referral, have a powerful influence for the next customer hoping to find quality service.

On top of that, you can share your Openbay invite code with your family and friends. When others use your code, you earn valuable rewards that can be applied for free service.

Openbay is Here for You

We understand how difficult it is to trust someone with your vehicle. We strive to make the process easier by connecting you with the most reliable automotive specialists in your area. When you need repair or service, time is money, and often you don’t have either to spare.

With just a few clicks, you get connected to the service provider that meets your needs. Receive a personalized quote and select the appointment time that is convenient for your schedule. With Openbay, you pay online and book car repair with confidence. We back everything with our Peace-of-Mind Guarantee.

You deserve to find a reliable auto service provider in your area. Skip the hassle and receive a stress-free service quote today. You’ll wish you had done it sooner.

Further reading:

5 Warning Signs You Need to Find a New Mechanic
Summer Traffic Hacks That Everyone Will Benefit from Knowing
How To Go The Extra Mile: Tips For Extending Your Vehicle’s Life

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