Let's face it, even the most dedicated shade tree mechanic needs an auto repair shop once in a while, and most folks need one a lot more than that.
I'm Brian Cooley here with my top five tips for spotting a good repair shop.
For about the most expensive, biggest piece of tech you own.
Look for certification.
Things like ASE, triple A, better business bureau and your state's bureau of auto repairs complaint records.
They do count for something, especially if they're current and not from 1969 under the previous good owner.
Now plenty of mediocre shops have these things in dusty frames on the wall but It's a start.
Tidy, if greasy.
A dirty shop can be a good shop, but all things being equal, tidy tells you something.
This is auto repair, not Grateful Dead trip dancing.
A certain rigidity of process, technology, and work space make good things happen.
There are great mechanics who are slobs, I just haven't met one yet.
Number three: lots of questions- from them, to you.
Nothing gives me the willies faster than a service rider or shop owner who takes in my car with barely a curt question or two.
You see, details up front lead to the best, least repair in my experience.
This is also key to getting it done right the first time, not the second or third infuriating time.
When they urge you to do a preventive transmission, cooling system or fuel injector flush that the car maker makes no mention of in the owner material You need to flush the shop.
These are signs they are likely in the upsell business, more than the auto repair business.
Before I get you to number one, here's what it won't be.
Don't sweat getting your part Back.
I know that's a classic old school sort of a thing, but it's predicated on a toxic relationship from the get.
And you're not going to be able to recognize that that greasy bag of parts even came off your car or not.
Shady shops know that.
My number one tip is basic, but there's nuance to it.
Get a reference.
But not from your friends.
Those same ones who were fooled by that bag of greasy parts off some other car.
Instead, hit the forums that deal with your kind of car.
There's probably one out there.
And if you find one with enough members, you're probably going to find local ones who've been to every shop in town.
If you do have a friend who is car repair savvy, of course, ask them.
But just because you know someone who has had their car repaired, doesn't mean they know car repair.
Ask the right people.
More Top Five lists awaits the car lover.
Go to CNETOnCars.com and click on Top 5.