The average person’s car is the second largest expenditure they’ll ever make. The first is their home, if they own one. Cars require periodic maintenance and frequent repair. And you need to choose a good shop to ensure that the work is done right. What should you look for when choosing a car repair shop?
If you drive a foreign import, you’re going to need to make certain that the shop has experience repairing your car before they work on it. The same is true for sports cars. While almost every repair shop can handle a Honda or a Ford, relatively few have the parts and tools to handle a Fiat or Lexus. It is reasonable to ask about the certifications held by the techs and how much experience they have. After all, the manager of the shop is rarely the one doing the work on your vehicle.
Another variation of this is the type of work they do. It is obvious that a place known for oil changes won’t repair the auto body after a collision. But what types of work will they do, and how does this compare to the work you need done? Northwest Houston Auto Repair does everything from car inspections to brake repairs. And they can do an oil change while they’re at it.
Always read the reviews for auto repair shops. The best ones will have many five-star reviews and very few complaints. Take the time to read the complaints. If they are regularly accused of over-billing or failing to do the job right, re-read the five-star reviews. Some businesses pay for fake blank five-star reviews to pull their score up after a bad review. Check out the auto shop’s rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Ask for an estimate before you have work done. This serves several purposes. First, it tells you what they think the scope of work would be. Second, it allows you to get a price quote you can compare to other repair shops. Avoid shops that significantly underbid or overbid work. You don’t want someone patching a tire when it needs to be replaced or addressing an oil leak by merely topping off the oil. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have them explain the work they’ll do and why they think it is necessary. If they put you off, don’t let them work on your car.
Ask for a written estimate. That prevents them from tacking on additional services or fees without your permission. This information also gives you the chance to ask about fees and pricing options, such as how much cheaper it is to get a refurbished part over a brand new one. On the other hand, you should never sign a contract or agreement until after work is done. If you sign an invoice, they can put anything they want on it and argue you approved it.
It is helpful to be able to borrow a loaner vehicle while your car is in the shop. It is certainly beneficial if the repair shop is the one that sends the tow truck and discounts the service if you use their shop. Just recognize that not all combined services are value-added.