How to Locate a Reliable Auto Repair Shop


Please don’t choose a store solely for its convenience. Convenience is a plus once you’ve determined that the shop is qualified. But only after they have a good reputation and a good warranty to back up their work. Remember that while a good shop may be convenient, it may not necessarily be the best shop for you.

Choose a store based on its “special offers” rather than location. Okay, everyone does it. It appears to be the current market trend. Of course, you want your shop to be competitive. But, more importantly, the job must be done correctly. Unfortunately, it is too familiar for many shops to bring the car in with a lowball offer and then charge more as the work progresses. This is partly due to the nature of the industry. However, if a price appears unrealistically low, it most likely is. You’ll be better off going with a shop that provides professional service and stands behind its work. Quality will always triumph over low cost. The savings will come from a more durable and trouble-free repair.

Don’t pick a shop because they look like “good old boys.” Poor decision. Some of those old boys are fantastic. Others have never moved on from the past and struggle to keep up with today’s vehicles. Rather than looking for a good old boy shop, get recommendations and proof of qualifications.

Choosing a shop based on a low “labor rate.” This is one of the worst methods of selecting a store. It makes no sense to price shop for service in this manner. There are too many variables to consider. The price is only one of them. And the final price may not be related to the “labor rate.” Ask for a cost estimate rather than the labor rate if you need a cost estimate. If you base your purchasing decision on the “labor rate,” you may find a shop that gives you a low rate, takes longer, and charges you more for the job than a higher rate shop would. The result could be a shoddy job for roughly the same price as a professional one.

They can get me in immediately! Oh, they can’t possibly be that busy. If that’s the case, perhaps they’re not all that good. A good shop can sometimes get you in quickly. Due to their reputation, they are frequently booked for a day or two in advance. This could work against you if you end up in a shop that is never busy because they do poor work. You must receive your vehicle as soon as possible. However, getting it fixed correctly is even more critical. Don’t you think so?

They can finish it right away. It takes time to do a good job. A good shop can shorten that time, but not eliminate it. Most people are unaware of how long their vehicles must be in the shop for specific jobs. Choosing a store based solely on this criterion is almost always wrong. Unfortunately, some shops will promise anything to get the job. That does not guarantee they will keep their promise once the job begins.

They don’t have as many employees or support staff, so they can charge me less than a store that does. Once again, this reasoning is flawed. Most modern facilities have nearly one support person for every technician in the shop. This allows technicians to focus on their work without being interrupted or distracted. As a result, the entire process is more efficient. With insufficient support personnel, the production staff will spend far too much time on tasks unrelated to vehicle services or repairs. The result is frequently lower quality work due to interruptions and higher prices due to an inefficient business model.

My neighbor went there and said it was fantastic. This is one component of a good strategy for selecting a good shop. However, before you accept this advice, ask a few more questions. What exactly did your friend do? How often has he been there? How did he resolve any issues that arose? If he only went in for an oil change and you needed a transmission repair, there could be a problem. Make sure that the shop is qualified to perform the work you require. Also, look for a shop an acquaintance has visited more than once. Recommendations are a great way to find a great shop. Ensure that the recommendation is qualified.

They appear to be charming people in whom I have faith. This is a very positive sign. A sense of trust is essential when dealing with a service or repair shop. Just make sure that this is one of several suitable components. Some people are excellent at schmoozing you at the front counter. That does not imply they are a good shop. It would be best if you considered more factors than that. It would be best if you determined whether they are qualified and will provide you with a good warranty and feeling.

Visiting any shop for minor repairs until you require something critical. That is not a good idea at all. Today, some shops can and will handle almost all your vehicle’s needs. Building a good rapport with them on smaller jobs will make them much more likely to get you in and treat you well when you need a more significant position. Some shops will not even talk to you about an emergency job unless you are already a client of theirs. Begin with an oil change to get a feel for the shop and to help you decide if that match is right for you.

Get recommendations from your friends and neighbors. As I previously stated, ensure that they are qualified. Any store can have a few customers who have had a bad experience or have a bad attitude. They should, however, constitute a tiny minority of total clients. Before you decide not to consider a shop that appears to be OK to you, consider the personality of the person giving you advice.

Make contact with some unbiased sources. Begin by contacting or visiting the websites of the BCAA, the BBB, or the local Chamber of Commerce for a list of member shops. Another source of shops dedicated to customer satisfaction is the British Columbia Automotive Retailers Association.

Next, call some businesses on your list and ask some questions. Call them to understand how they answer the phone and how they treat you on your first contact. Inform the person who answers the phone that you are looking for a qualified auto repair shop. Inquire if they have a few minutes to answer some questions. If you catch them during a busy period, request a good time to call back.

Next, please inquire about the services they can offer. Inquire about their industry affiliations, such as trade associations. Inquire whether they have an ethics code and whether they follow it. Please inquire as to how many of their technicians are certified. Inquire about the length of time their technical staff has been in the industry. Inquire how long they’ve been in business. What is their standard warranty for the majority of jobs? One year is the bare minimum. Inquire whether they have a technical resource, such as Alldata or Mitchell on Demand, where you can access service bulletins and recall information.

Examine the request: Were they polite or obnoxious? Did they appear distracted while on the phone with you? They should be able to handle your phone call professionally. If you like their attitude and responses thus far, proceed to the next step. If not, return to your abbreviated list and begin with the shop with the following highest qualifications. Continue this process until you find a shop that feels right to you, at which point you can move on to the next step.

Pay a visit to the shop. Drive by first to see if it looks like a place you’d want to leave your car. If it passes that inspection, park in their lot and go to their office. Take note of how you are treated, the office’s appearance, and the staff’s attitude. They should present themselves professionally, be friendly, courteous, helpful, and efficient, and act as if they want your business.

Examine the walls for certificates displaying government certifications and other affiliations. Allow them to tell you a little bit about themselves. If they have time, inquire about the shop’s history. Inquire if they have any handouts that would assist you in deciding whether they could be your shop. Inform them that you are looking for a shop to service your vehicle. Watch how they respond. A good shop will value your research and be delighted to begin a new relationship with a potential good client.

Inquire about meeting the owner or the shop manager. If they are not too busy, request a quick tour or look around the shop. Check to see if it is clean and well-organized. Get a general sense of the shop’s attitudes.

If you’ve come this far, make an appointment for an oil change or other minor service.
A word of caution: If they can’t or won’t set up an appointment for service, you shouldn’t choose them as your shop. A shop that does not set appointments is more of a “breakdown shop” and does not focus on preventative maintenance. This is not what you want if you want to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to service and repair. Also, getting you in quickly without an appointment usually means that you won’t be able to leave on time with a quality job. A well-run shop will be able to schedule appointments and handle minor emergencies. If they cannot get you in for an emergency, they should have a backup plan, such as a rental car or a shuttle service to your home or workplace, to assist you when needed.

Maintain your appointment. If you cannot attend, please call and reschedule as soon as possible. That is something that a good shop will appreciate. After your first appointment, make your final decision. They should call and send you some follow-up information to cement the relationship. A good shop will ask you to complete a questionnaire to ensure satisfactory service. They will also solicit your feedback to improve the business for you and their other clients.

Your final choice. If the shop has met the above criteria to your satisfaction, show your appreciation by rewarding them with your loyalty. Please visit them for oil changes and other preventative maintenance services. When you have an emergency, you will be glad you went out of your way to find a GREAT shop. You won’t believe how much less stressful having a shop that you can trust with your vehicles from now on can be. If the shop did not meet your expectations or you had a bad feeling about them, you must repeat step one until you find a shop you can call your own. It is not always the shop itself. You may occasionally have a personality clash with someone at the shop. You don’t need to go to a store that makes you uncomfortable. Look around until you find one who treats you as a friend.

Precision Auto Service in Langley, BC, is owned by Scott Waddle. Scott, who has years of technical and practical experience, publishes a timely newsletter with tips and advice on how to get the most out of your vehicle for the entire time you own it. Scott invites you to subscribe to his newsletter at dSKWez for the best auto care advice.

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