How to Choose a Decent Car Repair Facility, Part I

Are you happy with your current car repair facility? If the answer's a resounding NO!, then it's time to do a little comparison shopping. So: do you know what you should be looking for?

Whether you're unsure or just need to brush up on the details, read on!

General Categories

While there are certain universals involved (which we'll get to in a moment), first consider whether you need a specific flavor of auto facility based on the repairs necessary. On a broad scale, for example, do you need body or mechanical work done?

Either way, auto shops come in three basic types: dealerships, specialists, and independents. Your repair may best be handled by a dealership; this is certainly true if the repair is recall-related, and the manufacturer has pledged to fix your car for free. No real choice there.

Also, they tend to have all the right parts in stock.

Indies and Specialties

Next: can the shop handle your Dodge Dart or, if it comes to it, your Porsche? Many repair shops specialize in specific types of cars, sometimes in broad categories (like "Foreign") and occasionally, if the market can bear it, in specific makes: Audi, Mercedes, Ferrari, etc.

These guys may charge extra, but it's worth it. Their educated mechanics can get the job done with a minimum of fuss.

Some might argue that a good mechanic can fix any car, and there's some merit in that position. Good independents tend to be generalists, and can often do the necessary repairs for less than specialists or dealerships charge.

How's It Look?

As the saying goes, you can't judge a book by its cover...but as the other saying goes, appearance trumps reality. Overall tidiness means that the people who run the place have an eye for detail, and care about presenting a professional appearance.

Do you really want to trust your car to people who don't mind being sloppy? Would you rather hang around in a nice, minty-fresh waiting room, or a grungy, grease-stained one? Your call, but as your second grade teacher tried to tell you, neatness really does count.

How's Their Rep?

The world's best enchiladas can hail from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and in a similar vein, that funky grease pit may do the best car repairs in town. So don't just go by looks: ask around to see who does good work, and when you've got a good candidate, see what the Better Business Bureau has to say.

You know, one little article isn't enough to handle all the wisdom we have to offer on this subject. So check out Part II to learn more about how to pick a good car repair shop.

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