Tips On Choosing The Right Auto Repair Dealer Should You Use an Auto Repair Shop Recommended by Your Insurance Company? When your car has been damaged in an accident, one of the most important things you can do is find a quality auto repair shop that will make it truly roadworthy. Your insurance company may offer to relieve you of the burden of finding a reputable repair shop by giving you a list of its own preferred providers. This is a tempting offer when you’re in a hurry to get back on the highway and not eager to check out repair shops on your own. Insurers typically tell policyholders that they have carefully checked out these businesses to make sure they do quality work at reasonable prices. Your carrier may offer to guarantee any work that is performed by shops on its preferred list. “What you want to do is find the repair shop that does the best job,” she says. “That isn’t necessarily the one they would recommend because they’re into cutting costs. In general, it’s a good idea to pick your own place. Do your own shopping. Look at reviews and decide on your own where you want your car to go.” attorney and founder of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog organization, says many consumers don’t realize that state insurance regulations around the country typically allow them to choose their own repair shops following accidents. Because insurance-affiliated repair shops depend on insurance carriers for their business, in some cases they may more concerned with how much they’re costing your insurer than how well they’re repairing your vehicle, Rosenfeld says. “You’re at a disadvantage when you’re dealing with a car repair facility whose principle allegiance is to the insurance company,” he says. THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN FINDING AN AUTO REPAIR SHOP Don’t Wait Till You Need It: Try to find an auto repair shop that you trust before you’re stuck on the side of the road. Having someone who knows you and your car when you call can save both you and the shop time and get you out on the road quicker. Take Your Car In For A Trial Run: If you are unsure an auto repair shop is right for you, try taking your vehicle in for a small thing and see how they do. This way you can make a good assessment of how you’re treated as a customer without spending too much money. Does The Shop Have Certified Auto Mechanics: Making sure that the people working on your car are certified by the ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) to work on the specific make of your car is always a good idea? Luckily our mechanics go through the ASE training and certification process. How Long Has the Shop Been in Business: The longevity of a business is a good indicator of what kind of service you will receive. Keep in mind that if customers were unsatisfied the business would probably have folded a long time ago. How Involved Are They in The Community: Auto repair shops are in the business of keeping return customers happy and spreading the word. A good way to do this is through positive outreach so try to see if the shop has any sort of community involvement they are participating in. Make Sure The Shop Can Handle Your Car: It seems as though every year brings new updates to the automotive world. Sometimes it can be hard for auto shops to keep up with the ever-changing needs of the automotive world. It’s always a good idea to call ahead of time to make sure the shop can work on your car. Chances are if the place you call cannot work on your car they will refer you to someone who can. Ask Questions: Make sure that you have questions ready when going to a mechanic or auto repair shop for the first time. It’s always good to know more about the vehicle you’re driving but this will also show them that you are taking the situation seriously. Location & Transportation: How far away is the car repair facility from where you are? Do they offer any sort of transportation assistance while your car is in the shop? These are two great questions to ask as the shop will probably have your car for at least a day. Only Pay For What You Authorize: Some shops will do work on your car without notifying you and then try to charge you afterward with no warning. You may owe the initial quoted cost but no shop can work on your car without your permission and they cannot hold your car as collateral. Keeping Personnel Records: Regardless of whether or not you’re looking for a shop it is always a good idea to keep a record of when your car was last serviced and any repair it has had up until the point you bring it in. This information will help the shop assess what might be wrong and you can avoid having to pay for extra things you might not need. How To Run A Successful Auto Repair & Mechanic Shop Most people have become leery of using just any auto repair shop and prefer to stick with one they trust. Make sure you are one of those trusted auto repair shops. Reduce Your Employee Turnover Rate Establishing reliability and consistency is extremely important when running an auto repair shop. This is hard to accomplish when you have a high turn over rate of employees which can lead to inexperienced new workers who need to be guided into better mechanics which can take time. Reduce your employee turnover rate by treating your employees well, giving good benefits and paying them well. This will also make your customers more comfortable working with you when they see the same mechanics each time they come in for auto work. It’s hard to trust an auto shop when they have a different mechanic working on their vehicle every single time they come in. Stand Behind Your Work With Guarantees Make sure your customers know that you trust your own work by giving a guarantee on your repairs for certain amount of miles or time. If you repair someone’s brakes, for instance, this will show them your not doing a shoddy job, causing them to come back in a few months to have the work done again. Give them a reason to trust your work and make them more likely to come back to you in the future. Create An Ethics Statement & Display It Prominently Given the unease that many people have when working with an auto mechanic, create an ethics statement describing your stand on honest, trustworthy work. State that you provide reliable service and are not trying to scam anyone. Explain that you will only provide necessary repairs and service and will not try to charge them for services that they don’t need. Once you’ve created the ethics statement, display it in a prominent place in the guest waiting room where anyone can see it. Always Reward Your Loyal Customers Make your regulars feel appreciated by rewarding them for being loyal customers. Send them coupons for discounted work or give them a free oil change from time to time. There may be some upfront losses in revenue but will end up paying out in the long run as you start to build up a client base who will only come to you for auto repairs and refuse to go anywhere else. On top of that, those customers are also more likely to refer you to their friends and family. Tips For Tackling Your First Big Car Repair You’re a capable weekend car mechanic. You’ve got basic tools and skills. You’ve mastered oil changes and tire rotations. But when a big repair comes along, it’s decision time. Take it on yourself, or call in a pro? That’s the choice I faced at the end of last summer, when my 1990 Mazda Miata suffered a crankshaft failure. Expecting a quick repair, I soon discovered the car needed a whole new engine—and I discovered this just after I’d disassembled it to the point that it couldn’t be put back together. Instead of paying a mechanic to mend my Miata, I decided to try replacing the engine myself. I did it—eventually—though I made plenty of rookie mistakes on the way. Here’s what I learned. Do Your Research Aftermarket shop manuals are great for learning the tools and parts you’ll need, but they sometimes read like a general overview (step one: remove radiator, front bumper, and windshield washer reservoir). Internet forums can offer detailed instructions and tricks specific to your car, usually with step-by-step photos. Set Up Your Workspace I started my teardown in the corner of my parents’ two-car garage. I got all set to pull the engine when I discovered I had no room to maneuver my engine hoist. Even with two muscular brothers, moving a half-disassembled car was a masochist’s game of Tetris. So don’t make my mistake: Clear plenty of space before you start the job, and position your car for maximum elbow room. I found the best spot was right in the center of the garage, though not everyone in my family shared this view. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AUTO MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR? If you’re a car owner, it’s critical to know the difference between auto maintenance and auto repair. Both of these things are important to the overall performance, but they have different functions. Maintenance is regular service that is required for your vehicle while auto repairs are performed when your vehicle is not functioning properly. Your owner’s manual will have a list of maintenance schedules with recommendations on what needs to be done and when. The most common regular maintenance, that everyone has heard of, is oil changes. Yet that’s not the only service that’s crucial for your car’s performance. Here’s a list of common auto maintenance needed to keep your car in tip-top shape: Oil Change Battery Brakes Tires Power-Steering Fluid Fuel Filter Coolant Engine Belts & Timing Belts Spark Plugs That’s quite a list! It seems like a lot of things you need to manage, but many of these services are simple procedures that your auto repair facility can complete that day or with an appointment. Many customers delay maintenance for various reasons. They may think it’s unnecessary, they may be too busy to bring their vehicle in, they may want to delay paying for auto services, or they might not realize that doing maintenance now can save money in the long run by avoiding repairs. It’s OK if you don’t know the difference between a spark plug and an oil cap – as long as you bring your vehicle to a reputable shop for regular maintenance. In a nutshell: performing regular auto maintenance helps keep your ride running smoothly and can prevent costly repairs down the road. Maintenance is regular service that will help prolong the life of your vehicle, while auto repair is when a part or fluid is not performing and needs to be fixed.