Consumer Reports: How to Find a High-Quality Car Repair Shop

It can be overwhelming trying to get a car fixed when it isn’t running correctly. There are shady car repair shops all over the place, but Consumer Reports has a few tips on finding a quality shop. Don’t be afraid to ask around locally in addition to doing research online.

Consumer Reports on finding a quality car repair shop

Consumer Reports on finding a quality car repair shop
Consumer Reports on finding a quality car repair shop | Klemantaski Collection/Getty Images

If you aren’t educated about cars, there are many things that you might need fixing on a car, truck, or SUV. Finding a trustworthy car repair shop is step one in the process. Consumer Reports says that RepairPal is also a good tool. RepairPal is a partner with Consumer Reports, but it can also be a good source. RepairPal shows similar issues that other owners had while also offering pricing estimates.

“Lots of shops and national chains have big, beautiful facilities, but that’s where the investment stops. Ask questions and look around,” says Jill Trotta, a vice president at RepairPal. Trotta noted that sometimes an extensive, beautiful facility could be misleading.

Tips for finding a car repair shop

John Ibbotson, the chief mechanic at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, has some tips. He suggests asking around for recommendations. If you know anyone with a similar vehicle, that’s even better. Good mechanics often have a good reputation in the community. In addition, you can always find reviews online. Local shops will likely be on various sites like AAA, Angi (Angie’s List), RepairPal, Yelp, and Facebook. Local Facebook groups can also be a good source.

If you search for shops that service a particular vehicle brand, these specialty shops often have better training. For instance, European shops are extra knowledgeable about European vehicles like Mercedez-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Volkswagen. Some places specialize in Japanese cars, and some focus on classic or vintage cars.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) will certify some quality shops. Technicians need to pass specific tests before getting qualified and have to be retested every five years.

Utilize sites like the Better Business Bureau and RepairPal

If others have an issue with a shop, it can often show up on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. Businesses can respond to claims and fix problems. If you find a shop with a ton of negative reviews, that might be a bad sign.

You can also give the car repair shop a trial run. This can be changing a tire or tire rotation, an oil change, or a filter change. At the time, you can also ask about warranties. Consumer Reports says, “See whether the shop stands behind its work with a guarantee of some kind. To compare shops, inquire about their warranty for a common repair, such as brake work.”

While none of these options are fool-proof, using a combination of the tips will likely get a better outcome. Consumer Reports has a lot of experience with car maintenance, car repairs, and car buying, making CR a good source for finding good sources.

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