One of the biggest mistakes we make as car owners is what I call shop-hopping. We hop around from repair shop to repair shop, in hopes of finding the cheapest price or, worse yet, the answer we want to hear about our car instead of the answer we need to hear. Shop-hopping causes us to make poor, impulsive, and/or uneducated decisions when repairing or maintaining our cars. We need to track our car’s health, service and repair history if we want a reliable and predictable car.
Finding the right facility to care for your car is as important as finding the right car for you. We spend hours looking for our perfect car, but we often settle to find the “perfect” repair shop in a matter of minutes. The goal is to find a lifelong repair shop you know has your back. Their main concern should be to make your life easier by removing the stress of car ownership, maintenance and repair. What’s a better feeling than having no car worries?
Found a shop you like? Put them to the test and see if they have these key traits that make a great repair shop.
Concern for your car and you
The staff and/or technicians should listen to your concerns, communicate their plan for diagnosing, repairing or servicing your vehicle and ease your worries. You should not feel intimidated or scared to ask questions. Talking over the phone is a great option, but try and speak to your technician or repair shop staff in person. You can get a better feel for them, their personality, their demeanor towards you, and how they interact with their employees and other customers.
Balance taking care of your car and saving you money
The shop shouldn’t try to upsell you on everything under the sun. They know car repairs and upkeep are expensive, and their main concern is to keep your car running well and prevent expensive repairs later on. They will tell you, “Hey, I checked your brakes while you were in for an oil change, and you will need new pads by the end of summer.” or, “Your tire tread is looking low so save up some money because they will need to be replaced in the next three months.” But if they pressure you for a sale, this isn’t the shop you want.
A good technician or repair shop is patient and thorough when diagnosing and repairing a car. We aren’t all the best and we can’t do it all. Good technicians know their limits and communicate it to you. They will recommend other automotive businesses that can help you if they can’t. Check their warranty policy as they vary among shops and ask ahead of time what kind of guarantees the shop offers on repair work.
Though not required to be a technician or own a repair shop, certifications are and should be important to you. Automotive certifications and training show your primary car technician takes pride in his or her own continuing education and development, which means he or she will take pride in you. Ding, ding, ding! This should hold more weight than a clean shop, waiting room and bathroom. Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the main certification program for technicians. Make sure their ASE certs—there are eight tests total—are current as they expire every five years.
The most important skill a repair garage or technician can have is communication. Being able to clearly communicate with a customer about their car needs in a concise, respectful and friendly manner is key. If you find a place that demonstrates the above behavior, you have found your lifelong auto repair facility!