How to find an automotive technician

Finding the right automotive technician for your cars can be a tricky and expensive prospect. If you have just moved to a new area, the process can be even harder.

If you have a new car, it might still have some type of warranty coverage such as extended, power train, or bumper-to-bumper than you should take it to a dealership. The service department will enter the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN and will have access to all prior service work done to the car provided it was done by another dealership. Any required work that is covered by the warranty will be done and the service records updated. Newer cars are much computerized and sometimes only a technician at a dealership will have access to the repair codes stored in the computer. Sometimes even the software on the computer is updated with new information to help the car perform better.

Older or out-of-warranty cars can be taken anywhere, even a dealership. Automotive repair chains are a good first choice if you have no other information or recommendations. Selecting a large chain will give you some benefits. The repair chain will be protective of its reputation and would not want bad word-of-mouth. They also give conditional guarantees on their work so if something is still broken you can go back and demand it is fixed. Be sure to read and understand the fine print.

Any repair chain or dealership should be more than happy to give you a written estimate for repairs. No work should be done on your car without authorization. Most automotive repairs will have a combination of labor and parts charges. If you are uncertain, have them go over the items with you. Ask about certifications that the shop has and even the specific technicians that would be working on your car. A common certification to look for is from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence or ASE. They are an independent, non-profit group that tests and certifies automotive technicians.

Perhaps the strongest source for a good automotive technician is word-of-mouth. Ask neighbors and co-workers whom they use, especially if they have a similar car. There are enough differences between American and foreign cars that most technicians specialize in. The Better Business Bureau is another source of information. They may not be able to tell who the best is but they can tell you if a certain shop has a number of bad reports. Knowing whom to avoid is just as important. Once you have found a good technician, take your car regularly. This will build a good relationship that will come in handy.

Before taking your car in, read the owner’s service manual that comes with every car sold. A used car may or may not have an owner’s manual. This information will tell you how often your oil needs to be changed and other recommended services. A good technician will not try to add services to your bill that are not part of the regular maintenance schedule. There are always special circumstances though.

Before taking your car in

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