Automotive Repair can be daunting for a lot of consumers and selecting the wrong shop can lead to problems down the road. This guide offers some tips on how to select the right shop and parts, so you get a quality repair to fit your budget.
- Tip #1 – Maintain Your Vehicle
- Tip #2 – Know Your New Car Warranty
- Tip #3 – Find the Right Repair Shop
- Tip #4 – Check the Parts That Are Used on Your Car
- Tip #5 – Fix Everything That Needs Fixing
- Tip #6 –Find Financing if You Need To
#1 – Maintain Your Vehicle
If you do anything, maintain your vehicle. It will save you a ton of money in the long run. And don’t just change the oil. Read the factory service guidelines and follow them. That means rotate your tires, get your vehicle aligned, check your fluids, and change the fluids as needed. And don’t use cheap fluids. Saving $30 on an oil change is not worth hundreds of dollars you might spend repairing your vehicle down the road. If need to find the maintenance intervals, check your owner’s manual. You can find it in your glove box or online.
#2 – Understand the New Car Warranty and Related Laws
Your vehicle warranty includes several different types of coverage for different component systems. Read your owner’s manual and understand your warranty. Keep in mind that some vehicles such as hybrid and electric cars may have longer warranties than standard vehicles. And, if you have questions, autoconsumer.com offers general warranty information by vehicle manufacturer.
And watch out for sites with an agenda such as trade associations that represent a specific part of the industry. The best source of information are neutral web sites. The FTC offers a good summary.
#3 Finding the Right Automotive Repair Shop
The worst time to find a shop is when you’re stuck on the side of the road and you’re at the mercy of a tow truck driver. Having preferred shop can make a big difference between a good experience and a nightmare. As a general rule, it is best to choose a shop based upon the age of your vehicle and type of repair.
As you look for a shop, remember that the most important person in the shop is the person who will be fixing the car. So, look for technician certifications such as ASE and I-CAR certificates, trade school diplomas and learn how long the technicians have been fixing cars.
In addition to checking for technician certifications, look for shop certifications. Organizations such as I-CAR will offer overall shop certifications if technicians are ASE certified, have completed training and meet certain quality requirements.
Look for specialization
Look for an automotive repair shop that knows your vehicle or repair. For example. Transmission shops fix a lot of transmissions, so they are not a bad place to go for a transmission repair. Similarly, brand specialists know the tricks of a couple brands, so you should consider a shop that advertises a specialty in the repair of your specific brand of vehicle. And don’t judge a shop by its size. It’s not uncommon for a top caliber master certified technician to leave a dealership and start their own Automotive Repair shop, so sometimes smaller can be better.
Get Automotive Repair Referrals
Online reviews can tell you a lot and word of mouth is often as good as gold. If you are looking for a shop, spend some time reading online reviews and talk to friends you trust. And be cautious if you see red flags such as a lot of bad reviews and frequent ownership changes.
Not all Car Dealerships are the Same
Car dealers are usually the highest quality source for automotive repairs. But not all car dealerships are the same. Find a dealership with a good automotive repair reputation. The best source of information are online reviews and factory awards such as “President’s Award” or “Top 500 Dealership Awards”. These are not awarded lightly and offer an indication of the quality of service you will receive during the repair process.
#4 – Ask about the Parts
You wouldn’t build a home addition with rotten wood, and you shouldn’t get your car fixed with bad parts. There are a lot of parts to choose from and a lot of bad information out there. Here are some pointers when looking at parts used in your repair.
Automotive Repair shops often choose the safest parts for their business. Many studies have shown that some automotive repair shops choose parts based mostly on speed of delivery and profitability. So, understand the quality of parts the shop is installing on your vehicle. And, you have a right to have the replaced parts returned to you if you want to validate the wear. The major types of parts you will see are:
- OE Parts – These are the same parts that came on your vehicle when it was new. These are considered the industry quality standard and are set the industry quality standard.
- Supplier Brand – Quality aftermarket parts that are made by the manufacturer that supplied the automaker. These are very quality aftermarket parts but should not be considered to be equal to OEM parts unless they carry the automaker brand. Your shop will generally offer these parts with a warranty if the part fails.
- Quality Aftermarket – These are name brand aftermarket parts. Some of the most common name brands include NAPA, CARQUEST, Bosch, Denso, NGK and others. Your shop will generally offer these parts with a warranty if the repair fails.
- Generic Aftermarket – These are lower quality aftermarket parts that are sold to reach a price point. These are less expensive and may be appropriate for your particular needs. Shops will often install these parts without a warranty on the repair.
- Rebuilt Parts: Parts that have been refurbished by replacing wear parts and broken components.
- Remanufactured Parts: Like new parts that have been torn apart and remanufactured to be equal to new.
Rebuilt Versus Remanufactured
There is a significant difference between rebuilt parts and remanufactured parts. If a part is rebuilt that means broken and wear components have been replaced and the part has been put back together. If the part has been remanufactured, that means the casing has been stripped and cleaned and new components have been installed.
As an example, if an automotive repair shop is offering you a transmission rebuild, that means they are going to fix the broken parts in your transmission, but if they are installing a remanufactured transmission, they are installing a new transmission that is using a refurbished transmission case. Either may be right for your needs and knowing the difference will help you make that determination.
#5 Fix Everything that Needs Fixing
Please don’t wait to replace broken parts on your car. A good automotive repair shop will perform an inspection on your vehicle and explain needed services. And while this is often used to sell you additional repairs, it is a useful process if you understand the information being shared with you.
In general, an inspection will tell you if the part is OK or needs monitoring/replacement. This is usually represented green/yellow/red status with green meaning everything is fine, yellow meaning you need to fix it soon and red meaning replace it now.
If parts are red, replace them and if they’re yellow budget to have them replaced at your next service appointment. There’s no reason to drive your vehicle with brake pads that are about to fail, an air filter that is restricting airflow or tires that are unsafe and waiting will probably cost you more money.
#6 Financing Automotive Repairs
There is no doubt that repairs can be expensive, but it’s not as expensive as waiting until a catastrophic failure or buying a replacement vehicle. And there are services that now allow you to finance repairs. Currently about 10% of repair shops can connect you directly with a finance company that can approve financing for repairs on the spot.
Do you need help with the Automotive Repair Industry, Contact 3NG Consulting.