We depend on our cars and trucks to get us to and from work safely each day, so having a service center we trust to perform reliable work on them is a must. Our vehicles are among our most significant investments and keeping them in safe operational order provides peace of mind as well as protection for our families.
If you find yourself looking for a new auto service center, there are a few big things to consider before you start shopping around. While your dealership can certainly provide reliable, quality work, you may be able to find independent mechanics or vehicle repair franchises that will do the work more cost efficiently.
Some consumers are nervous about taking their newly-purchased vehicle outside of their dealership or manufacturer for fear of voiding their warranty, however the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act makes it illegal for a company to void your auto warranty or deny coverage for using aftermarket parts or independent retail stores to provide maintenance. Many non-dealer auto service retailers can provide quality maintenance and repair solutions for your vehicle at a fraction of the cost of dealerships, so it can pay to shop around.
Here are some key things to consider as you look for a trusted automotive service center.
TESTIMONIALS, REVIEWS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Testimonials, reviews, and recommendations will be among your biggest indicators of a shop's integrity and commitment to service. Asking friends, family, and searching for reviews on the Internet of the businesses you are considering can help you zero in on the shop that's right for you. Try to find the web page or social media page for the shops you are considering. Do they have pictures of their interior? Does their space look clean and friendly? While these things may be superficial, clean workspaces and comfortable waiting areas can be good indicators of a shop's commitment to their customer experience.
CALL AND ASK QUESTIONS
A little research goes a long way when it comes to auto repair. Call the shop to speak to a mechanic or stop by for a quick visit and ask them questions in person. Getting a better understanding of how they guarantee their work, how easy they are to talk to, and how friendly they are can be great indicators of what your experience will be once you go in for service. When you called, were you put on hold for a long time? Did people seem busy, stressed, or pushy? Were your questions answered thoroughly? If you had a bad experience on the phone, you might have a bad service experience and may need to keep shopping around.
LOOK FOR CERTIFICATIONS AND MEMBERSHIPS
Any shop where you take your vehicle for service should be ASE Certified (Automotive Service Excellence) and their technicians should be, as well. The blue ASE seal on a business means at least 75% of the technicians performing diagnosis and repair are ASE Certified. ASE Certified technicians must have a set amount of work experience and have passed an extensive exam. Additionally, they must pass this exam every five years to maintain their certification. This mark of quality is important to the health of your vehicle, and most service centers, like AAA Car Care Centers, strive for this designation.
Similarly, look for AAA-Approved Auto Repair facilities for an even higher level of quality assurance. While you don't have to be a AAA Member to enjoy the benefits of a AAA-Approved Auto Repair facility, members may be eligible for additional discounts. AAA-Approved Auto Repair facilities must pass an annual AAA-Approved inspection of their location and are required to offer 12-month/12,000-mile warranties on all repairs they perform. AAA Members receive further enhanced benefits at AAA Car Care Centers, including an enhanced 24-month/24,000-mile warranty and additional discount opportunities.
DON’T WAIT FOR A BIG REPAIR TO TRY A NEW SERVICE CENTER
If you’re thinking of using an independent or franchise auto repair location, be sure to test them out on small maintenance or repair items. Oil changes, brake jobs, and even tire purchases can be perfect, small-ticket items that will give you a solid read on the store’s commitment to customer satisfaction, attention to detail, and their repair skills. It is always a good idea to have a location you trust before those big-ticket repairs become an issue.
While these certainly are not the only ways to determine if a shop does dependable, quality work on vehicles, they will absolutely help you zero in on the reliable, independent auto repair retailers in your area. Keeping these in mind as you shop, do not be afraid to ask questions, trust your gut instincts, and you’ll be sure to find a shop and mechanic who are trustworthy and provide the level of service for your vehicle to meet your expectations.