If you're the typical car owner, you may not know much about the mechanics of your vehicle. When it's time for repairs, however, you should know how to locate a reliable shop and a qualified mechanic.
* If you have a problem with your car while it's still under warranty, follow the manufacturer's requirements to keep your warranty in effect.
* If your car is no longer under warranty and you're looking for a qualified, independent repair shop, ask friends and family for recommendations and check with your BBB for the shop's reliability. Use the BBB's directory of BBB Accredited Businesses to find a business you can trust. Visit denver.bbb.org to look up BBB Accredited auto mechanics and even request quotes instantly for free right from the site (see Request A Quote). Or call (303) 758-2100 and ask to be sent a list of BBB Accredited mechanics in your area.
* Look for shops that display certification such as an Automotive Service Excellence Seal. ASE certification indicates that some or all of the technicians have met basic standards of knowledge and competence in specific technical areas. Make sure the certificates are recently obtained and independently verify this information directly with the National Institute for ASE, (www.asecert.org). Remember, however, that certification alone is not an absolute guarantee of good or honest work.
* If major repairs are required, you may want to find a dealer or repair shop specializing in the type of repair needed. If you are in doubt about what the problem is, let the shop diagnose the problem. You may cost yourself money by requesting a specific repair that may not in fact solve the problem. Nevertheless, be as specific and accurate as possible in describing the problem. Technicians work best with descriptions that include when, where, how often, and any sights, smells or feelings that relate to the problem.
* Always get an estimate for parts and labor. Make sure the estimates states that the shop will contact you for approval before performing any work exceeding a specified amount of time or money.
* When you receive your estimate, ask the service consultant to explain all work completed and all replacements made. Also, ask that any major new parts that have been installed be pointed out to you, if possible. Be sure that warranty information is included, in writing, on the repair order. Your bill should itemize the repairs so if a problem occurs later, you can prove that the item in question is covered by the warranty. Laws in most states require that the part number and manufacturer of the part be included in the part description.