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3 Things to Avoid When Choosing Your Auto Mechanic

Brian England, Wed, Oct 19, 2011

Just think about it, for most people, after a mortgage, a car is one of the most expensive purchases we make.  So, how much time and thought did you put into finding a great auto mechanic?  Chances are you spend more time planning your vacations!  When you choose a mechanic to take care of your car, think of it as “hiring” someone to take care of one of your most expensive possessions.  Would you hire someone without checking them out?  Well, here are three key things to avoid [as well as a checklist of things to look for] when choosing your next auto mechanic.

  1. Don’t just take your car to the same dealer you bought the car from without checking them out first.   Although dealers will likely have a lot of experience servicing your make of car [which is something you definitely want to look for], it doesn’t mean they are the best option for preventative maintenance and repairs.  I know of an instance where someone  took his car to the dealer for an electrical problem and ended up waiting almost a month for the repairs.  The reason for this was because the dealer hadn’t updated his diagnostic software and couldn’t complete the repair without it.  So… when you are choosing a shop, ask if they have the latest equipment, software and access to the latest technical information for servicing your car.
  2. Don’t just take your car to the shop offering you the biggest discount.  Again, your car is likely one of the most expensive purchases you will make.  You will want to make sure the auto repair shop uses quality auto parts, and that they offer a warranty.  One and two year warranties are very common now.  Also, you want to make sure they aren’t skimping on equipment and facilities in order to give you cheap prices.  Visit the shop and ask for a tour.
  3. Don’t forget to check out the shop’s certifications and quality control procedures.  Make sure the technicians are ASE certified.  This is a way of ensuring that the technicians are properly trained.  Find out how many skilled auto mechanics they employ.  About 50% of the mechanics should be skilled.  Also, ask whether they set standards for each repair or service performed so that they can produce consistent repairs.  A few things that can signal high quality auto repairs are looking for a Bosch shop or an AC Delco shop.  And lastly, make sure you feel comfortable communicating with the staff.  Cars today are very complex.  The auto technicians and/or service advisers should be able to talk to you in language you understand.

It is important to establish a trusting relationship with your auto mechanic just as you would with any other service provider.  Don’t wait until you need a last-minute repair job to find an auto repair shop, start by asking neighbors, family and friends for recommendations.  You can also search on the internet.  The following checklist may come in handy when evaluating an auto repair shop:

  • ___They have experience working on my make of car.checklist for choosing a mechanic
  • ___I visited/toured the shop, and it is clean and orderly.
  • ___At least ½ the technicians are skilled and they employ ASE Certified Technicians.
  • ___They are a Bosch certified shop.
  • ___They are an AC Delco Shop.
  • ___They have the latest equipment & software as well as access to the latest technical information.
  • ___They offer a two year warranty on auto repairs.
  • ___The use high quality automotive replacement parts.
  • ___They follow a specific set of standards for each type of repair to ensure consistency in repairs.
  • ___I feel comfortable communicating with the staff about my vehicle.

 

About Brian England

 

Brian England, the current president of BA Auto Care (formerly British American Auto Care) got his start with an auto apprenticeship in a small town in the northwest of London. He came to the U.S. in 1972 to work for a Land Rover dealer in Rockville, MD, and a few years later, started British American Auto Care with his wife, Jennifer. A big believer in preventive auto maintenance, Brian's philosophy is to encourage and educate drivers on the benefits of adhering to a regular maintenance plan.