One of the trickiest aspects of owning a vehicle is finding the right auto repair shop. Generally speaking, there are three types of repair facilities: dealerships, independent repair shops, and chain stores. While there is no best shop that applies to everyone, it is very important to know what you should be looking for in a shop before you get your vehicle serviced there.
Before you get your car serviced, always ask the shop for a repair estimate in writing. A detailed estimate allows you to be financially prepared when you receive the final bill. If there were questions regarding the repairs that were made to your car, you can always check the estimate and confirm what repairs were originally agreed upon. Again, be sure to receive the estimate in writing. If the mechanic gives you an estimate verbally, you have no proof of what was included in the original scope of work or if the prices are the same.
One of the most frequent questions I hear is, “why do auto repair shops charge such high prices?” The answer to this question is that there are many expenses that contribute to running a reliable auto shop: labor, equipment/tools, parts, rent, insurance, taxes, etc. After considering these components, most shop owners are left with little profit at the end of the day.
Many car owners believe that it’s a good idea to settle for an auto shop that offers the lowest prices for vehicle repairs. I believe that it is in your best interest to find a shop that offers fair prices for quality service.
Generally speaking, facilities that offer the lowest rates tend to not have the proper equipment nor training. They often do not take the time to properly train their employees, leading to high employee turnover and inconsistent results. Instead, find a shop that does good work (ask for referrals), gets good reviews, and treats their employees well. Chances are they will also treat you and your vehicle better.
And when you do have a problem, have your car checked out as soon as possible. Auto repair costs can get exponentially more expensive the longer the problem is allowed to persist. What might have been a small easy fix can lead to additional problems in other parts or systems of the vehicle.
One last maintenance tip: One quick and easy way to keep yourself on top of your auto maintenance, is to refer to your owner’s manual as it comes with a recommended maintenance schedule designed specifically for your vehicle. The schedule will tell you which parts of your car needs to be serviced at pre-set mileage intervals.