Minimum Standards For Car Repair Facilities

May 23, 2010

As you attempt to find a car repair facility, there are some minimum standards that you should insist upon. You should look for some evidence that the business belongs to some structure larger than the business itself.  This would include, for example, trade associations, affiliations with auto parts suppliers like the NAPA Autocare  Center program or membership in the AAA approved auto repair program.

 With participation in these programs comes support like the availability of technical seminars, professional help lines and special pricing for advanced diagnostic equipment, all of which aid in the efficient repair of your car. Also these affiliations usually have requirements for membership that include having a well equipped shop and conforming to the mission statement of the organization. Lack of this membership may be a sign that these organizations consider the business substandard or unqualified.

You must insist upon the repair facility having a computerized vehicle history. This is essential when you are faced with warranty issues or have to establish when a certain repair was performed. Inquire how long the shop retains the history, this information may come in handy later. Easy retrieval of information lends itself to a much smoother operation which translates into a better level of customer service available to you.

The individual invoices that are generated by this computer system should have some minimum requirements as well. Each invoice should break out the labor charges for each labor operation that was performed. For example, if the water pump was replaced, the specific labor charge for that repair should appear on a separate line of the invoice from where, say, the tire rotation is described. This allows you to know the complete cost of the water pump, which may become an issue if you had to ask for a refund or were expected to pay just the labor if only the pump itself were covered under the guarantee.

You should be able to find out from the invoice if any of the work on your car was performed by a third party. Shops don’t always have the equipment to do every service your car needs and will use other shops for things like front end alignments or glass work. When this happens their invoices should reflect it with words like “sublet” next to the description of the labor charge. In addition, the invoice should indicate if rebuilt or new parts were used on your car.

Any shop you choose should conform to your wishes concerning estimates. It is reasonable to expect the facility to inform you of any expense over a certain threshold which you specify. On the other hand you should expect to pay for the diagnostic time involved in checking out your problem. The shop may be able to tell you what that charge might be at the time you drop it off. A reasonable rule of thumb would be a charge equal to one hour’s time per visit unless extensive dismantling is required before the problem can be ascertained which should be discussed with you in detail.

While there are many qualities that you would like to see in a car repair facility these are a few of the prerequisites that any professionally oriented shop should display. If you don’t find these minimum standards, you might want to ask why not or start looking for another provider.

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