By Maqueda "Maq" Hooks
Automotive maintenance and repair knowledge is something we're not born knowing, it has to be learned. Women call the shots on the family car purchase and play an important role in the overall maintenance, so if you don't know much about automotive maintenance, do yourself a favor and learn it. Here are a few tips:
Begin shopping for a repair shop before you need one. By asking friends and associates for their recommendations.
- Look for a neat, well-organized facility with vehicles that are equal in value to your own on the parking lot and professional technicians in the service bays. Avoid establishments where you feel ignored, patronized or rushed.
- Look at the credentials of the business and the employees who will service your vehicle. Most shops will post educational certifications or accomplishments and professional business affiliations in their waiting areas. Some affiliations to look for include trade association membership, such as the Automotive Service Association (ASA), and membership in the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Look for certification or education offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) and the Automotive Management Institute (AMI).
- Be prepared to describe your vehicle’s symptoms and supply a written list of recent problems. Then make sure a written estimate is provided prior to letting the business begin the repair.
- Before you leave, be sure you understand all shop policies regarding labor rates, guarantees, and methods of payment. Have a written guarantee of all work performed and asks about the shop's warranty.
- Start off with a minor job. If it is satisfactory, return with more complicated repairs.
- Request the return of all replaced parts for your assurance of installation. By asking for your old parts, you will be assured of the work done.
- If they make a service recommendation that sounds unnecessary, get a second opinion. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Also ask another body shop, most quotes are free, and can be done on the spot. If the second shop says a similar price, tell them if the first place quoted you less for the same work. You'll save money because they want your business.
In addition here are some books and web sites that might be helpful resources:
“Dare To Repair Your Car”A Do-It-Herself Guide to Maintenance, Safety, Minor Fix-Its, and Talking Shop by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tene
"Auto Repair for Dummies" by Deanna Sclar
http://www.asecert.org/ ASE web site is dedicated to quality of vehicle repair and service through the testing and certification of repair and service professionals.
Maqueda "Maq" Hooks, Maq as known by friends and co-workers, is a recent graduate of Jones International University. Her knowledge comes mainly from a mother’s love of knowledge, research and school as well as a father who has worked in automotive industry for over 30 yrs