by Tony Molla
New to your town or city? Looking for a good auto repair shop?
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the non-profit organization that tests and certifies the competence of individual automotive repair technicians, knows a thing or two about selecting a vehicle repair facility.
Whether you are new in town or you are just looking for a new shop, the experts at ASE offer some guidelines to help take some of the anxiety out of your search:
- Look for a repair facility before you need one; you can make better decisions when you are not rushed.
- Ask friends, co-workers and associates for recommendations.
- Consult local consumer organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and chambers of commerce, about the reputation of the shop. Inquire about the number, nature and resolution of complaints.
- Search online for business reviews and visit the shop’s Facebook page if one is available. You can learn a lot about a business and its team by reading social media.
- Look for a tidy, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays. You likely won’t find hospital-clean conditions, but consider whether the facility’s image and level of professionalism meet your needs.
- Don’t make your selection based solely on location convenience.
- Determine if the shop works on your vehicle make and model or performs the types of repairs you need. Some facilities specialize.
- Look for signs of technician competence. The customer area should display trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced coursework and ASE certifications — a nationally recognized standard of technician competence — for all the employees.
- Does the business have a sense of community? Service awards, plaques for civic involvement, customer service awards, membership in the Better Business Bureau and other consumer groups is a good indicator.
- Professionally run establishments will have a courteous, helpful staff. The manager, service writer, or technician should be willing to answer your questions thoroughly.
- Labor rates, fees for testing and diagnostic work, guarantees, methods of payment, etc. should be posted in the front office/waiting room.
- Ask for the names of a few customers as references. Call them.
- Start with a small or minor job, such as an oil change or tire rotation. Reward good service with repeat business and more complex work.