Spring Car Care: Find a good auto tech before you need one

Published on Wed, Apr 13, 2011
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Moving into a new area, who’s the most important professional you seek out? A family doctor, of course, a dentist, a pharmacist and, somewhere down the road … your auto mechanic.

The decision on your car care professional, while not as critical as selecting health care professionals, nevertheless is important. The decision should be made when you’re in control of the situation, not when your car breaks down and can’t be driven.

Whether you’re a college student headed to a strange town or a senior citizen moving to a retirement community, finding the right service shop warrants research. Making that selection sooner rather than later helps.

Most car owners, being concerned about repair costs, want to deal with facilities in which they have faith. The problem arises when blind faith gets in the way of good judgment. The answer, of course, is to know your car and its needs, a message that has been espoused by NASCAR and strongly supported by the Be Car Care Aware program—an educational campaign that has established National Car Care Month.

“You don’t have to know how to fix your car,” says a Goodyear Gemini automotive technician and member of the NASCAR Performance Network. “You should know something about things like brake pads and air filters and other parts that need periodic attention. If the mechanic says its overdue for an air filter, you need to know what he or she’s talking about.”

So how should you go about finding a good mechanic, the honest person who will help you through the maze of car care?
Check your local newspaper, of course, and the local chamber of commerce may have a list of local business contacts which usually includes automotive service facilities.

Because most of us tend to procrastinate on auto repairs, much less the search for someone to do them, you may find yourself rushed into this discomfort zone. It’s a case for researching early.

Another excellent source is via listings on the Internet. Among sources are ASE (National Institute For Automotive Service Excellence) and the Automotive Service Association. Additionally, the Car Care Council provides a listing of more than 60,000 auto parts retailers, repair facilities and body shops as well as engine installers.

Sometimes the local parts store can lead you in the right direction. As always, bias can enter a recommendation, so it’s wise to patronize a service facility as early as possible after having made your selection. If for some reason the relationship doesn’t work out you can continue your research.

A few questions to ask yourself as you seek you your tech:

• How was the phone rapport?

• Did I find the shop clean?

• Was I treated courteously?

• Was my vehicle’s problem explained to me in layman’s language?

• Did the shop walls display certificates of achievement?

• Was this shop recommended or did you find it via research?

Then, after the repairs:

• Was the invoice explained?

• Did it compare favorably with the estimate?

• If applicable, was warranty or guarantee of satisfaction discussed?

• Would you recommend this shop to a friend?

When you find repair experts that meet your standards, stick with them. They can make your life easier, possibly saving you time and money.

When you’re in need of car maintenance, they can be your best friend indeed.