- Ask for recommendations from friends, family, and other people you trust. Look for a repair shop before you need one to avoid being rushed into a last-minute decision.
- Ask to see current licenses if state or local law requires repair shops to be licensed or registered. Also, your state Attorney General's office or local consumer protection agency may know whether there's a record of complaints about a particular repair shop.
- Make sure the shop will honor your vehicle's warranty.
How to Choose a good automotive technician
Is one technician better than another?
- Look for shops that display various certifications — like an Automotive Service Excellence seal. Certification indicates that some or all of the technicians meet basic standards of knowledge and competence in specific technical areas. Make sure the certifications are current, but remember that certification alone is no guarantee of good or honest work.
- Ask if the technician or shop has experience working on the same make or model vehicle as yours.
Repair Charges: Unlocking the Mystery
Before you arrange to have any work performed, ask how the shop prices its work. Some shops charge a flat rate for labor on auto repairs. This published rate is based on an independent or manufacturer's estimate of the time required to complete repairs. Others charge on the basis of the actual time the technician worked on the repair.
- If you need expensive or complicated repairs, or if you have questions about recommended work, consider getting a second opinion.
- Find out if there will be a diagnostic charge if you decide to have the work performed elsewhere. Many repair shops charge for diagnostic time.
If you decide to get the work done, ask for a written estimate. What should a written estimate include?
- It should identify the condition to be repaired, the parts needed, and the anticipated labor charge. Make sure you get a signed copy.
- It should state that the shop will contact you for approval before they do any work exceeding a specified amount of time or money. State law may require this.