Many of us don’t know where to take our cars for repairs and indeed don’t think about it until we need repairs. By the time we need repairs, it’s too late. Instead of just dropping your car off at wherever is closest, or has the shortest line, make sure your vehicle will be taken care of properly. Perhaps years ago, a shade-tree mechanic whose only credentials were a tool box and busted knuckles was enough. But today’s high-tech vehicles need more and quality-conscious consumers demand more. ##M[read more]##
Step I: Before You Need Service
? Read your owner’s manual. Be familiar with your vehicle’s needs, and follow the suggested maintenance schedule. This will allow you to be in control when it comes time to decide what should be done, and it will help you to keep your vehicle in top running condition.
? Start by pre-shopping your repair facility. Once your vehicle is in need of attention, you may be too rushed to make a good decision.
? Ask your friends and co-workers where they take their vehicles. Word-of-mouth recommendations are still the best way to find out how a business really treats its customers.
? Check with local consumer organizations for complaint records or other recommendations about the reputation of the shop.
? If possible, arrange for transportation with a friend in advance. This way, you will not be forced to choose a facility just because it’s close.
Step II: At the Service Facility
? Look around. Is the facility neat and organized? Does the equipment in the service bays appear to be modern and in good repair? Does the facility use computers for both car repairs and customer convenience?
? Check out the staff. Is everyone friendly and helpful? Are they willing to answer your questions? Are the employees in uniform?
? All policies should be posted and/or explained to you. Look for signs about rates, diagnostic fees, warrantees, and methods of payments.
? Ask if the shop frequently handles your vehicle make and model. Some facilities specialize. Can the facility provide you with a complete history of you vehicle’s repairs?
? Look for signs of professionalism: membership in the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, and customer service awards.
? Look for evidence of qualified technicians such as ASE certifications. ASE, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, conducts the only industry-wide, national certification program for automotive technicians.
Step III: Follow Up After Your Visit
? Keep all your paperwork, you may sometime need to check records for evidence of a service done, for warranty information, or to check against your maintenance schedule.
? Did the shop follow-up the service with a call, thank you, or discount for future service to show their appreciation for your business?
? Reward good service with repeat business. If you establish a good relationship with a shop, both of you will benefit.
? If the service was not what you expected, don’t rush to another shop. Talk to the service manager, and give the business a chance to resolve the problem. State the problem calmly, and let the manager know what you feel would be an acceptable solution to you.
Once you choose a repair shop, start with a minor job, such as an oil change, and then something a little larger, before jumping into a major repair job. If you are pleased with the work, trust them with that big job later. Reward good service by returning, and poor service by a civilized complaint and request for a reasonable solution.
By following these steps, you can protect your vehicle and make repair time less stressful, by being surer of whom is doing your repairs and what they are doing.