How to Choose a Decent Car Repair Facility, Part II

The average car repair is something like a root canal: a costly, uncomfortable procedure you want to get over with ASAP. While this characterization may offend the sensibilities of dentists and mechanics alike, let's get real here. In both cases, what you need is quick work, done with a minimum of pain.

In Part I, we looked at the basics that you should consider when choosing a new auto shop. That includes the category of shop you require, based on the necessary repairs; appearance; and the place's reputation. In Part II, we'll outline a few more selection criteria.

Facilities

Beyond the basic amenities, what kind of equipment can the shop offer? Are they strictly a wrench-and-screwdriver establishment, or do they have the latest whiz-bang diagnostic computers? Can they access the Internet for up-to-date automotive research? Do they have a decent reference library to consult?

If you can't tell by looking, just ask.

Show Me The Money!

It should go without saying that a shop should be as affordable as you can find without scraping the bottom of the competency barrel. Are discounts available, especially if you tack on a little Preventative Maintenance?

Some shops may offer discounts if you pay with cash, or with a specific credit card (because it's easier or cheaper for them to process). For that matter, some credit card issuers may give you a discount if you pay for repairs with their card. Check into the AAA Member Rewards Visa, for example.

Money. Mouth.

Reputable auto repair shops back up the quality of their work, so check into the types of warranties they offer. Realize that these may vary according to the make or age of your car, as well as the nature of their specialties or the work done...but 12-month/12,000-mile parts and labor warranties are standard for major repairs.

You know that a repair facility is top-notch when they have a AAA Approved Auto Repair sign posted. No worries -- there are almost 8,000 such facilities across the U.S., so there should be one nearby. Note that AAA may require you to use one such if you tap them for roadside assistance.

The Bottom Line

Like most economic decisions, finding a decent auto shop isn't something to take lightly. Oh, you can, but you may pay for it later when flames start shooting out of your tailpipe (as has happened to Yours Truly). So give it more effort than it takes to choose between apple and cherry pie at the diner. Most people don't.

Shop type, appearance, reputation, equipment, economic factors, and quality guarantees all have their place when choosing a car repair facility, so refuse to skimp on your decision.

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