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Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Why it Pays to Find a Repair Shop You Trust

If you’ve ever been ripped off or highly inconvenienced by an unscrupulous repair shop or dealership, you may be nodding your head in agreement with this headline.

In a December 2018 Consumers Report survey, 40,000 respondents said they had more satisfying experiences at independent repair shops than at dealerships.

Of course, if your car is still under warranty and the repair will be covered, by all means, don’t pay for something the dealer will fix at no charge!

However, if the repair is not covered, it can really pay off to take the time to find a repair shop that you can trust and create a connection with.

Why Should I Bother with All That?

If you are asking yourself the question above, you’ve been lucky.

One example is a young woman driver who was fairly new to driving a stick shift. She purchased the car used and when the clutch began having problems, she took it to a repair shop close to her work. They replaced the clutch and she went on her way. When she experienced clutch problems 6 months later, she believed the first repair shop didn’t do a good job, so she went to another location, where they again replaced the clutch.

To make a long story short, this happened a few more times. Frustrated, she spoke with her father, who told her to take it to a mechanic he had used for many, many years. After listening to her story, he told her that the clutch was completely burned. He replaced it, but instead of simply returning the car to her, he asked the woman to drive it to see if it felt OK. He went with her.

This is when the mechanic discovered that she had her foot engaged on the clutch pedal constantly. When she was sitting at a light, when she was in stop and go traffic, when she was on a steep hill, she had her foot on that clutch pedal. The pedal was continuously nailed to the floor, burning the clutch like a bad fast food restaurant.

The mechanic very nicely explained to the woman about clutches, how they worked and how she should drive it. Problem solved.

It’s All About KLT

Similar to TLC, when it comes to a repair shop for your vehicle, you want to find a shop that you KLT: Know, Like and Trust.

  • Know — The woman in the story above would have saved a great deal of time, trouble and money if she had a rapport with a shop that knew her and her car. A good repair shop would have investigated further when the same issue occurred over and over, not just replaced the part and sent her on her way.
  • Like — No one likes to have their car in the shop, but repair facilities with rude, crass and/or patronizing staff can make an already unpleasant task downright infuriating. Find a shop with employees and owners you actually like.
  • Trust — This is the most challenging one because it takes time to establish trust. You can start by asking friends, family and co-workers for recommendations for a trustworthy shop. You may also want to check online reviews, see if the mechanics are ASE-Certified, or see if the shop is approved by AAA or another organization.

Things to Keep in Mind

Some repair shops excel in one area and have limited skills in other areas. For example, you might not want your regular shop to rebuild your transmission. (To be fair, they might not want to, either.) While you might have that KLT factor for your go-to shop, ask if they are comfortable with or trained in specialty areas when the need arises.

Always ask about what kind of warranty, both on parts and labor, a shop provides. Some repair shops only offer a 90-day warranty, and others only warranty parts and not labor. Sometimes, this is acceptable. For example, if you asked the shop to use salvage parts. Be sure to get that warranty in writing, so there is no confusion later.

More Than Just Saving Money

Let’s be honest, most people are interested in saving money more than anything else when it comes to car repairs. Unless you have oodles of money to blow, who isn’t?

However, there are other things to consider.

If you work odd hours or days, for example, you are going to be interested in finding a repair shop that has longer or more flexible hours. A repair shop that knows you sometimes get out of work late will make arrangements with you to pick up your car after hours.

Some people use their vehicle as an office on wheels, and being without one is very difficult. When you have a good relationship with a repair shop, they might make arrangements to have a loaner vehicle waiting for you, or they can arrange a special deal with a local rental company.

At the End of The Day

At Auto Lab, we know how difficult it can be to find a repair shop with that KLT factor. We encourage you to call or stop by and talk about your concerns. Ask about our experienced, ASE-Certified mechanics and our 3-year/36,000-mile warranty. We want to be your trusted repair location. Feel free to call us at (847) 367-4488 or stop by today!

Posted in Auto Repair.