Consumer Repair Guide
Find a Facility You Can Trust
The best time to check out a repair facility is before you desperately need one. Ideally, bring your car in for minor service, such as an oil change or tire rotation. Take this opportunity to look over the service area, note the equipment used, and talk to service personnel.
Here are some things to look for in evaluating a repair shop:
Appearance. A clean, well-organized facility reflects attention to detail and an effort to maintain a professional image.
Amenities. The facility should have a comfortable waiting room. Many shops now have pick-up and drop-off service for the convenience of customers.
Equipment. A good repair shop will have up-to-date equipment and information. The actual amount of information needed to repair today's vehicles has exceeded the efficiencies of paper-based manuals. Current repair information for vehicles made after 1982 now requires 13 CDs that are updated quarterly. That equates to a stack of books more than 50 feet high.
Reputation. Check with the State Attorney General and Better Business Bureau for reports of unresolved disputes with customers. Also check the length of time the shop has been in operation.
Recommendations. Ask family and friends about their experience. Were they charged the price they were quoted? Was their car ready when promised? Were they treated courteously? Were all questions about the work performed answered thoroughly?
Specialization. Identify shops that specialize in the kind of vehicle you drive or the type of repair or maintenance service you need. Routine maintenance can be handled by shops that specialize in that service, for example, oil changes, which they do in volume. If you are not certain which repair your vehicle needs, a facility that covers all general repair needs would be a good first stop for diagnosis. You may choose to have the technician refer you to a specialist once you've identified the problem.
Dealerships. Technicians at your dealership should be very familiar with performance problems specific to the make and model you drive. They use original factory parts. They are aware of technical service bulletins or special advisories.
Warranty. Look for a 12-month or 12,000 mile warranty. Find out if the warranty is honored nationally, especially if you travel. Some shops offer "property line guarantees." This means that once you drive to the end of their property line, they are not responsible for your car's performance.
Look for the AAA sign. For more than 25 years, AAA has helped consumers with their repair needs by inspecting and certifying quality repair facilities. When you see the AAA sign, you know the repair shop has met AAA's strict standards for training, equipment and customer service.