How to Choose the Best Auto Shop to Handle Your Car

mechanic fixing a car at a garage

When your car has an issue and it’s not something you’re familiar with, it’s a much smarter choice to drive your car to the nearest auto shop rather than fiddle with its components until something happens. You might be located somewhere that has plenty of auto shop service centers, which begs the question: which one do I pick? You might go for the cheapest one you can find or the closest one to your home, but you might not be getting the best service for the best price, and you might even be getting bad service that could damage your car. If you want to protect your investment on your car, here’s how you should be choosing your auto shop. 

Above All Else, Choose Your Car’s Manufacturer 
If you bought your car directly from the manufacturer, you might be able to get some repair and maintenance services done for free or at a discounted price. If your car has a warranty (it should, if it’s a new car), it should be running smoothly for the first few months or even the first year. If you see something is faulty within your warranty, just go to your nearest service center to get it repaired. Your car manufacturer’s service center (or any of its authorized service center affiliates) should always be your first choice because of two reasons. First, if it falls under your warranty, you either don’t have to pay for repairs or it’s much lower compared to sending it to unaffiliated auto shops. And second, as the manufacturer or an authorized service center, the manufacturer assures you that your car is getting quality service because it the manufacturer vouches for it. Even for the simplest services such as oil changes, faulty lights, or other equipment that can be easily fixed with basic car maintenance, head to your manufacturer’s service center. Some of these maintenance steps may seem simple, but if done incorrectly, it may cause long-term damage to your car. More importantly, if you go to an unaffiliated auto repair shop, have something replaced or fixed, and then go to your car manufacturer’s service center on a later date, if they find signs that you had your car serviced elsewhere (based on the non-manufacture replacements, signs of maintenance without proof of that maintenance happening in an authorized center), your warranty may be void and you’ll have to pay full price for their services. 

Survey Before a Rainy Day 
If going to your car manufacturer’s service center is out of the question, you need to start looking for alternatives even before your car shows any sign of trouble. When your car malfunctions or needs a repair at a moment’s notice, you may be in such a hurry to get it fixed that you might make a hasty decision with your car. Once you have a car, start scouting your area for possible auto shops. You might want to ask your neighbors and local friends for auto shop suggestions, which shops to visit, and which shops to avoid. Some people may have polar opposite reviews on a certain shop (in which case it is up to you to judge if a certain auto shop is worth going to), but if the general consensus is negative, you know you should avoid that auto shop. On the other hand, if many people say they’ve received excellent service at a good cost in a certain auto shop, that’s the one you take note of in case your car starts to show signs of damage. 

High Price Does Not Mean High Quality 
This is a rule that applies to so many products and services in the market: just because a service is expensive does not mean it provides the best quality among its cheaper competitors. And just because something is affordable does not necessarily mean you should expect low-quality service because “you get what you pay for.  Most of us can’t afford the best money can buy and throw our money at any auto shop. We’re all looking for both affordable rates and quality. But if you’re basing quality on price, you’re not doing your research right and may be missing out on better deals out there. Aside from asking friends and acquaintances, it also helps to base quality from online reviews, websites, and what an auto shop claims it has to offer. Imagine this scenario: you find your high-end car has a broken windshield and you need to get it fixed. You may be tempted to go to the most expensive-looking auto glass shop just because you think it can provide high-end windshield glass to match the rest of the car. However, you might actually be surprised to find that even affordable auto glass shops offer high quality auto glass at lower prices. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions 
If you’ve worked in retail or any job that requires you to talk with clients, you may have experienced the frustration of working for someone who has so many questions. As a customer of an auto shop, don’t be afraid to be that customer – your car is your investment, and you have a right to know exactly what they can do and plan to do with your car. Be assertive, but not aggressive when asking questions – make it clear that you want to know you can rely on their services for your car. Ask about their services, their estimates, the amount of experience they have for the job they’re doing for your car. Get estimates on pricing – I recommend not haggling or complaining about their prices (it’s rude, plus chances are you might not be talking to someone who can do anything about the prices) – just so you can take note of the price differences between their shop and the other shops you go to. Don’t leave your car with an auto shop filled with people who can’t explain what they’re going to do with your car. Before you leave, you should fully understand what they’re doing, why, and what’s going to happen to your car. Otherwise, there may be some miscommunication, and you could end up getting something you didn’t really want to happen to your car. 

As one of your major investments, your car deserves quality service for the best price. Settling for any auto shop without considering how much it costs compared to its competitors or its history of satisfied (or dissatisfied) customers could get the job done, but not with the quality or price range you were hoping.