Wednesday, January 7, 2015

5 Tips For Locating A Reliable Auto Repair Shop

As it so often did with everyday issues, the popular sitcom Seinfeld had something seriocomic to say about the relationship between auto mechanics and their customers. In episode 107 ("The Fusilli Jerry"), when Jerry worries that an unscrupulous mechanic is taking advantage of him, his neurotic friend George responds, "That's what they do. They can make up anything!"

Although this is greatly exaggerated, George expresses a common concern of car owners who don't know much about the vehicles they drive and therefore have no idea whether or not they are being charged a fair price for repairs. The answer to this problem isn't to take a crash course in automotive repair, but rather to learn how to find a good auto repair shop wherever you might be. With that in mind, here are a few simple and reliable tips for doing just that.

1. Plan Ahead

The single most common error car owners make is that they wait for something to go wrong with their vehicle before they start searching for an auto repair shop. In this instance, even a small problem could become a major emergency, as worried drivers will do just about anything to get their vehicles back on the road--including paying more than they should for repairs. But if you already have access to a reliable mechanic, you won't have to panic!

2. Ask Around

Ever wonder why you don't see many commercials for auto repair shops? The reason is simple: when they do good work, word gets around and customers come calling. Therefore, the best way to find a trustworthy shop is to simply ask around. Since almost everyone needs a mechanic at some point, your friends, co-workers and family members are sure to have their fair share of recommendations.

3. Consult Consumer Organizations

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) provides a fairly accurate gauge of a company's reputation, including the number and nature of complaints against them. You can also check with your local chamber of commerce and with consumer-review sites like Yelp.

4. Visit the Shop

Even if you don't know much about cars, a stop at a prospective auto repair shop should give you a glimpse into how they run their business. Is it a well-organized facility? Is the staff courteous and professional? Do they have experience with vehicles like yours? Do they have posted labor rates? These are just a few of the questions you will want to consider during your visit.

5. Try Them Out

As mentioned at the outset, you never want to wait until something goes wrong before you start searching for an auto repair shop. Since there are always minor jobs that can be performed on your vehicle at almost any time, it's a good idea to test a prospective shop with a small task. For example, you might ask them to change your oil or rotate your tires. If they can handle these simple jobs promptly and professionally, you may have found the right fit.

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