How to choose an auto repair facility.

When looking for a repair facility, whether new to the area or unhappy with the present facility you have been dealing with, the first thing you should do is check with friends, neighors and coworkers. Ask them where they take their vehicles for repairs and how satisfied they are with the service they receive. This can save you a lot of time and energy. There is nothing more powerful than word-of-mouth recommendations.

After compiling a list, do some homework and check with the Better Business Bureau, Attorney General or any consumer watchdog group. You want to find out if they have had any complaints lodged against them. If they did, were they resolved quickly.

Next you want to start calling the list of repair facilities. Listen to them answer the phone. Do they sound pleasant and helpful? Or does it sound like you've interrupted them? Set up a time when you can go and meet with them to introduce yourself and ask some questions about their operation.

As you drive into the facility, you want to look for vehicles in the lot that are about the same age and condition as yours. You also want to be aware of the facility itself...is it clean and neat? Does it look like the owner care about the look of his business?

When you go inside, you want to be aware of the reception / waiting area. Is it clean and inviting? Are there any training diplomas or certifications for the technicians in the area? What affiliations does the facility belong to? Some examples of affiliations are:

ASE-National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence. A nonprofit organization developed in the early '70s to certify technicians ability to repair vehicles in 9 different mechanical areas. What a technician is certified in 8 of the mechanical areas, he/she is considered a master technician. This organization is recognized as the authority on certification in this industry.

ASA-Automotive Service Association. This is a nonprofit association of independent repair owners numbering over 12,000 members. It provides many benfits such as a nationwide warranty, technician training and most importantly, management training. This management training is the best in the industry and teaches technicians to become responsible business owners. When a certain number of credits have been achieved the recipient is awarded the Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation. It is the only industry specific designation of it's type.

When you meet with the repair facility representative, here is a list of questions you want to have answered:

  • Do they work on your type of vehicle?
  • What services do they offer?
  • What is their warranty?
  • Do they keep vehicle records?
  • What are their hours of operation?
  • Who do you speak with if you have a problem?

Ask if they could walk you through the facility. Don't be hesitant to ask this, as most owners are very proud of the commitment they have made to deliver quality repair to their customers. You want to look for equipment and see its condition. You want to try and get a "gut feeling" about the operation. Were they pleasant to talk to? Did you get straight answers to all your questions? Is this a business you would like to deal with? By following these steps, you will lessen your chances of being disappointed with a repair facility. It will also allow you to develop a relationship that should last many years.