(LOS ANGELES, Sept. 25, 2006) — To help motorists avoid being deceived by unscrupulous repair technicians who add unneeded maintenance services, the Automobile Club of Southern California says that it’s important to know how to find an honest auto mechanic to maintain their car or truck.
The Auto Club recommends the following tips to find a great mechanic for your vehicle:
- Don’t wait for a breakdown. The best time to find a repair facility is when you don’t need one. Ideally, try out a repair shop for a minor service first like an oil change.
- Ask family, friends and neighbors for referrals. Your personal network, including business associates, is a great place to start asking about the relationships they have with their mechanics.
- Find out if the repair facility is AAA-Approved. The Auto Club has done the legwork for you and put their seal of approval on approximately 600 repair facilities in Southern California. The shops must pass frequent facility inspections, pass an annual customer satisfactions survey and allow AAA to investigate and resolve Auto Club member complaints before gaining, and retaining, AAA approval.
- Evaluate the repair shop. Check the appearance and cleanliness of the repair facility. Does it have a comfortable waiting room? Are the repair service bays clean? Dave Skaien, program development manager of the AAA-Approved Auto Repair Program says that cleanliness says a lot about a shop owner's abilities and commitment to customer service.
- Are technician Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications displayed? Automotive technician certification is NOT state-required. These certificates will tell you what mechanical systems the technician is tested and certified to work on. Ask if the facility has any other certifications.
- Is the shop a fixture in the community? Find out how long the repair facility has been in business under the same ownership.
- Get a written estimate. By law, the cost cannot exceed the estimate without your approval.
- After the repair work is finished. Look for a minimum12-month or 12,000 mile warranty. And ask what other guarantees the facility offers on completed repairs. Ask that the replaced parts be returned to you at the time your vehicle’s “symptoms” are written-up, Skaien says. They can come in handy in a repair dispute.