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Most U.S. Drivers Leery of Auto Repair Shops

AAA Advises That Finding A Trusted Mechanic Is More Important Than Ever

Auto Repair Survey

According to a new AAA survey, two out of three drivers do not trust auto repair shops in general – citing overcharges, recommendations for unnecessary services and poor past experiences for their lack of confidence.  However, the survey also reveals that the majority (64 percent) of U.S. drivers have singled out an auto repair shop that they do trust, suggesting that consumers have prioritized finding a reliable mechanic in an industry with an imperfect reputation.


“To minimize the stress associated with vehicle repair and maintenance, it is critical that drivers find an honest repair shop that they can trust with their vehicle especially since today’s vehicles are highly sophisticated and highly computer-controlled,” said Dave Skaien, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Approved Auto Repair Program Manager. “AAA found that one-third of U.S. drivers – 75 million motorists in total – had yet to find a trusted repair facility, leaving them vulnerable when trouble strikes.”


With today’s cars collecting a variety of data about the health of the vehicle, drivers need a trusted repair facility more than ever.  “Connected cars” with built-in diagnostic capabilities can alert drivers to vehicle trouble and help repair shops quickly and accurately address issues.  Unsurprisingly, given concerns about data security, AAA found that the majority of U.S. drivers want the ability to direct their vehicle’s data to the repair shop of their choice – the trusted facility with whom they have built a relationship.


The top reasons that U.S. drivers do not trust repair shops are:

  • Recommending unnecessary services (76 percent)
  • Overcharging for services (73 percent)
  • Negative past experiences (63 percent)
  • Concerns that the work will not be done correctly (49 percent)


Older drivers are more likely to trust auto repair shops than younger drivers:

  • Baby boomers are twice as likely as younger generations to fully trust auto repair facilities in general, with one-in-five reporting they “totally trust” the industry.
  • Baby boomers (76 percent) are also more likely to have a chosen auto repair shop they trust compared to Millennials (55 percent) and Gen-Xers (56 percent).


“As a service to our members and the general public, the AAA Approved Auto Repair program is designed to help drivers identify trustworthy repair shops,” Skaien continued. “Facilities meet AAA standards by undergoing a rigorous investigation conducted by Automotive Service Excellence certified inspectors; including quarterly inspections and annual re-certifications that ensures high professional standards for technical training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Plus, if something does go wrong, the Auto Club steps in to arbitrate any issues on behalf of its members.”


To find a trustworthy auto repair shop, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Look for a repair shop before issues occur. Ask family and friends for recommendations and visit to locate an AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.
  • Research potential repair shops and find out how long they have been in business. This can be a good indicator of shop quality. Also, look into how they deal with consumer complaints. The Better Business Bureau, State Department of Consumer Affairs or attorney general’s office can provide those complaints.
  • Visit the auto repair shop for a minor job such as an oil change or tire rotation. While waiting, talk with shop employees and inspect the shop’s appearance, amenities, technician credentials, and parts and labor warranty. If you find the service to be good, stick with them. Build a relationship with the technician so they can get to know you and your vehicle. 


AAA’s Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program was created more than 35 years ago and includes nearly 7,000 facilities across North America with more than 500 located in Southern California. Once a shop meets AAA’s high standards, including certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, it becomes part of the AAR program where it’s re-inspected annually and monitored for customer satisfaction. AAA members receive several unique benefits by selecting an AAR facility, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts on repairs, free inspections, AAA assistance with dispute resolutions and more.

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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.