As cars have increased rapidly in our homes, so have auto shops our streets. Choosing from the many available shops is a hassle and we can’t tell which one is going to be a good fit for us. Read on to find some good tips on how to find and choose an auto shop.
12 Steps to finding a reliable auto repair shop
1. Ask around
To get a good car shop for various services that you need, you’ll need to ask everyone you know. Especially people you trust. Starting with your family members, neighbors, and colleagues. In marketing, this is known as word of mouth marketing and it’s a reliable method of getting your services exposed to more people.
They’ll tell you of the auto shops they frequent. You’ll find out the price range beforehand which helps in negotiating for a favorable price once you get to the auto shop.
2. Start looking for an auto shop before your car breaks down
Prior preparation is very important when it comes to car repair. When your vehicle breaks down, it becomes an emergency as the convenience it offers is now unavailable. If you start looking for an auto shop the moment your car breaks down, you’ll be hard pressed for time. Consequently, you may opt for the location nearest to you without the proper knowledge of how they work or charge. This may lead to you getting the service at a higher price than it would have cost in another auto shop.
When you are already aware of a good auto shop before your car breaks down, that’s the shop you’ll visit. That’s because you’re confident in their skill and price when your car eventually breaks down.
3. Visit the location
This is simple scouting of the location. Doing this enables you to get familiar with the location and even have a rough estimate of their overheads. You’re able to identify whether they have customers and how they treat them.
Further, visit their website and check online for reviews on the auto shop. This will help you make up your mind about it and also get to know what other people that you have not met are saying about it.
4. Check out more than one shop
Identifying several shops that you can visit for a quick and affordable car repair is a smart move. You are able to compare their price and skill levels. In addition, you are able to gather more on other aspects of the service you provide and choose the one that appeals to you.
Choose only auto shops that have a good reputation. What you look for in reputation is their level of honesty, you don’t want to take your car to an auto shop that will take parts from your car to fix another. Their skill level, what do their customers say about the skills of the mechanics in the particular auto shop. Also, find out about the pricing relative to other auto shops.
6. Opening hours
This is another factor that you need to identify way before you get to the auto shop. You can easily find out their business hours on their website. This enables you to plan for a suitable time to take your car to the repair shop.
7. Additional services
Besides repair services, what other services does the auto shop offer? Do they do house calls on Sundays for customers with emergency breakdowns? Can they tow your broken down car to their shop or do you have to do that yourself? It’s important that you find out which other services they offer their customer and how much they charge for them.
8. The auto shop’s expertise
You also need to find out whether the auto shop has expertise in cars like the one you drive. With most cars on our roads being foreign, it’s important that the auto shop you choose to repair your car has the right expertise and experience in dealing with your brand.
Avoid taking chances if the mechanic has clearly told you that they lack experience with your vehicle brand or model. You’ll end up with worse problems.
On the other hand, some auto shops specialize in maintaining certain brands of cars. The owner might have worked at a particular dealer shop then left to start an auto shop that specializes in a single brand.
Establish that technicians in the auto shop have the necessary certifications to work on and handle cars. The certifications say a lot about their training and experience and how they handle cars brought to their shop.
10. Establish that they offer warranties for their services
Every auto shop that you go to in your quest to seek the best one for your car, ask whether they offer guarantees and warranties on the services they provide. They should at least provide a one year warranty on the works that they offer especially if, it involves external services such as paint jobs or body works.
11. Find out if it is a dealer shop or a local owner shop
You’ll notice that certain services are easily solved by the dealer themselves, while there are other minor problems that can be solved at a local auto shop. If you needed a copy of your transponder key, the dealer shop is best suited to offer that service while a minor repair or paint job can be easily carried out by a local auto shop.
12. Get written estimates for the service you seek
You can seek out written estimates from several auto shops to determine a good price estimate before the service provision begins. This assures you that the price quoted at the beginning is the price you will pay once the service is complete. This also prevents the auto shop from overcharging you as most usually do.
Advantages of dealing with an independent auto shop
1. You can easily build a relationship with your local auto shop mechanic
Relationships are the building stones to better business and fantastic services. Unlike dealers who know you by the car you drive, your local auto shop aims to know you personally. They know how far you like your seats and will make sure they get them to that level once their work gets done.
Local auto shops can deliver your car to your house and even come pick it up. You can easily build a personal relationship with the technicians at the shop.
The local auto shop is likely to offer better prices than a nearby dealership. That’s because they don’t have as many front office staff and overheads compared to dealerships.
Just because a dealer is more expensive doesn’t mean that their services are better than those you will get from an independent dealer.
The local auto shop does not need an appointment to service your car unlike at the dealer shop. At the dealer shop, you have to fit in with their schedule. The independent auto shop is willing to work within your timelines to repair your car by the time you need it.
4. Experience and skills
The independent auto shop is owned and run by an experienced mechanic with decades of experience in repairing cars. In addition, the owner hires experienced and well-trained technicians to effectively compete with the dealer shop. The highly skilled technicians are certified to deal with different cars and have diverse skills in auto repair and maintenance.
Another advantage is that the local auto shop is able to handle different brands and types of cars.
5. Minor repairs
The local independent auto shop is able to handle minor repairs on your vehicle easily. Most are fairly priced compared to dealerships and offer warranties for services provided.
6. Provide warrantied services
Independent auto shops provide services that are covered by your warranty. For quick and efficient services, have your car serviced at an independent auto shop for the services that you could receive at a dealer shop.
7. Have access to a range of parts
Independent auto shops have access to a range of parts for both locally manufactured and foreign vehicles. They offer original parts from the auto manufacturer or refurbished parts which are much cheaper.
Disadvantages of an independent auto shop
1. Lack of information
Independent garages often lack updated information on the brands that they repair and maintain. Dealerships, on the other hand, have every bit of information about the cars that they deal in. In addition, they have access to original parts directly from the manufacturer. This information is what makes dealership have the upper hand over independent auto shops and therefore charge a premium price.
With good use of the internet though, the independent garage can subscribe to receive the same information that the dealers have on the vehicles they deal in.
2. Lack of space
Independent garages are usually smaller than dealerships. As a result, you can’t wait there as your car is being repaired. In as much as this is a disadvantage, independent garages use this to build relationships with their customers by delivering the car to a location of their preference whether at home or their offices.
3. Lack of equipment
This is another challenge that encumbers independent auto shops. They often lack the latest diagnostic equipment for some brands of foreign cars. They end up outsourcing these services to other garages increasing the price of the service offered.
Advantages of a manufacturer-dealer shop
1. Capable to handle complicated repairs
Dealerships are the best to deal with complicated repairs on your car. Since they’re bonded to the manufacturer, they have access to company technicians who can easily help them.
2. Original parts
Dealerships are original equipment manufacturer’s agents and easily access the parts that they require to service your car effectively. Providing original parts is expensive and therefore their services will be more expensive.
3. Trust and reliability
Dealerships are trusted easily. That’s because they carry the name of the car manufacturer and are thus seen as more reliable and financially strong than independent auto shops.
Disadvantages of a manufacturer-dealer shop
Dealerships have tight schedules as they service a lot of cars. You can’t take your car to the dealership and expect to wait for a service unless you had made an appointment which often takes weeks to book successfully.
Dealerships charge more on the services that they offer due to carrying the brand name of the car manufacturer and also carrying original parts. In addition, they have a captive customer base that they can charge as much as possible.
Cars used to be considered luxuries at an earlier point in time. Now cars are an essential means of transport for everyone. They are practical in that they make commutes easy and deliver a lot of convenience to the owners with the unreliable public transport system.
Like every other machine, our cars break down. When this happens, we need to be ready and have identified a good auto shop where we can have our car fixed quickly and affordably.
Professionalism and skills to handle the type of car that you drive are the main considerations before you look at the price and other factors involved.