When their cars break down unexpectedly, many people take them to the closest repair shop they can find. But this important decision should not be left to chance.
The best thing to do is to start shopping for a repair facility before you need one. By planning ahead, you can be sure that your car will be in capable hands when repairs are needed.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), a nonprofit, independent organization that tests and certifies auto service professionals, offers these tips on finding a good auto repair establishment.
* Ask your friends and associates for their recommendations or consult local consumer groups.
* Arrange for alternate transportation in advance so you will not feel forced to choose a shop based solely on location.
* Look for a neat, well-organized facility with modern equipment and vehicles in the parking lot that are equal in value to your own.
* Look for a courteous staff. The service consultant should be willing to answer all of your questions.
* Ask about the shop’s policies regarding estimated repair costs, diagnostic fees, guarantees and acceptable methods of payment.
* Ask if the repair facility usually handles your type of repair work.
* Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area such as civic, community or customer service awards.
* Look for evidence of qualified technicians such as trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced courses and ASE certification.
Approximately 400,000 professionals hold current ASE credentials. They can be found at independent garages, dealerships, franchised outlets, collision shops and various other types of repair facilities.
The certified technicians wear blue and white ASE insignia or pins. Their employers often display their technicians’ ASE credentials in the customer service area and post the ASE sign on the premises.