Tip #2 from Caribbean Express Carwash & Spa

Info on vehicle care and ownership you can use now

HOW TO SELECT A GOOD REPAIR SHOP

 According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the American Automobile Association (AAA), and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), knowing this this kind of information can help you keep a lid on unnecessary repairs and mechanical mistakes.

"What should I look for when choosing a repair shop?"

Ask for recommendations from friends, family, and other people you trust. Look for an auto repair shop before you need one to avoid being rushed into a last-minute decision. Shop around by telephone for the best deal, and compare warranty policies on repairs. Ask to see current licenses if state or local law requires repair shops to be licensed or registered. Also, your state Attorney General's office or Better Business Bureau (314-645-3300) may know whether there's a record of complaints about a particular repair shop. Make sure the shop will honor your vehicle's warranty.

"Is one technician better than another?"

Look for shops that display various certifications - like an Automotive Service Excellence seal. Certification indicates that some or all of the technicians meet basic standards of knowledge and competence in specific technical areas. Make sure the certifications are current, but remember that certification alone is no guarantee of good or honest work. Ask if the technician or shop has experience working on the same make or model vehicle as yours.

Repair Charges: Unlocking the Mystery

Before you arrange to have any work performed, ask how the shop prices its work. Some shops charge a flat rate for labor on auto repairs. This published rate is based on an independent or manufacturer's estimate of the time required to complete repairs. Others charge on the basis of the actual time the technician worked on the repair.

If you need expensive or complicated repairs, or if you have questions about recommended work, consider getting a second opinion.

Find out if there will be a diagnostic charge if you decide to have the work performed elsewhere. Many repair shops charge for diagnostic time.

Shops that do only diagnostic work and do not sell parts or repairs may be able to give you an objective opinion about which repairs are necessary.

If you decide to get the work done, ask for a written estimate.

"What should a written estimate include?"

It should identify the condition to be repaired, the parts needed, and the anticipated labor charge. Make sure you get a signed copy. It should state that the shop will contact you for approval before they do any work exceeding a specified amount of time or money.

"What should I know about the parts to be repaired or replaced?"

Parts are classified as:

New - the vehicle manufacturer or an independent company generally makes these parts to original manufacturer's specifications. Your state may require repair shops to tell you if non-original equipment will be used in the repair. Prices and quality of these parts vary.

Remanufactured, rebuilt and reconditioned - These terms generally mean the same thing: parts have been restored to a sound working condition. Many manufacturers offer a warranty covering replacement parts, but not the labor to install them.

Salvage - These are used parts taken from another vehicle without alteration. Salvage parts may be the only source for certain items, though their reliability is seldom guaranteed.

"What do I need after the work is done?"

Get a completed repair order describing the work done. It should list each repair, parts supplied, the cost of each part, labor charges, and the vehicle's odometer reading when you brought the vehicle in as well as when the repair order was completed. Ask for all replaced parts. State law requires they be returned to you.

"What are the consequences of postponing recommended preventive maintenance?"

Many parts on your vehicle are interrelated. Ignoring maintenance can lead to trouble: specific parts - or an entire system - can fail. Neglecting even simple routine maintenance, such as changing the oil or checking the coolant, can lead to poor fuel economy, unreliability, or costly breakdowns. It also may invalidate your warranty.

"What maintenance guidelines should I follow to avoid costly repairs?"

Follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule in your owner's manual for your type of driving. Some repair shops create their own maintenance schedules, which call for more frequent servicing than the manufacturer's recommendations. Compare shop maintenance schedules with those recommended in your owner's manual. Ask the repair shop to explain - and make sure you understand - why it recommends service beyond the recommended schedule.

At Caribbean Express Carwash and Spa, our policy is to encourage customers to follow the maintenance recommendations established by each vehicle’s manufacturer. Our experience over the years has shown that this is the best way to maintain the value and reliability of your vehicle while maximizing your pleasure from its use. You will never be pressured into buying products or services you do not want or do not need.