Several organizations test, rate, and certify good service facilities or individual technicians. If you’re unsure about a particular shop, you can feel pretty secure if you see a sign posted in the shop or a patch on a technician’s uniform that indicates that the shop or the individual has achieved recognition from one of the following programs: AAA (American Automobile Association) or Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) Approved Repair Facilities: Both the AAA and the Canadian Automobile Association have rating programs for auto repair shops.
Representatives from these organizations visit and evaluate service facilities to make sure that they meet high standards for reliable work at a fair price, willingness to resolve complaints and a history of few complaints. To qualify, shops must provide customers with written estimates of all costs and offer a minimum warranty on parts and labor of 12 months or 12,000 miles (12 months or 20,000 kilometers in Canada).
In most cases and with some exceptions, both the AAA and the CAA are willing to arbitrate disputes between members and approved shops if negotiations between the shop and the member aren’t successful.
Evaluating a Facility
To find an Approved Repair Facility in your area, look for the AAA or CAA logo on display at a shop, contact your local or regional association office, or visit www.aaa.com or www.caa.ca to find contact information for national headquarters. If you’re a member of one of these clubs and you have an unresolved complaint about an approved shop, contact the Approved Auto Repair Service Program at your local auto club or its national headquarters.
ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) Certified Technicians: The ASE certifies technicians (not individual shops) by testing them on a variety of automobile repair specialties, including brakes and transmissions. ASE-certified automotive technicians and other service professionals can be identified in several ways: the blue and white ASE Blue Seal of Excellence sign displayed by a facility, the ASE certificates earned by their technicians displayed in the office or waiting room, or the ASE shoulder patch on a technician’s uniform.
To obtain a list of ASE-certified technicians and/or Blue Seal businesses in your area, visit www.asecert.org. ADS (Association of Diesel Specialists): If you own a diesel-powered vehicle that’s out of warranty and you’re looking for a reliable diesel mechanic, look in your local yellow pages under “Automobile Repair & Service” for a shop that displays the ADS logo.
ADSauthorized shops must send their technicians to factory schools to keep abreast of new parts, techniques, and systems; must meet high standards for cleanliness; and must stock sufficient tools and parts to deal efficiently with most diesel repair and maintenance jobs. To obtain a list of authorized shops, visit.
ASA (National Automotive Service Association): The ASA advances professionalism and excellence in the automotive repair industry through education, representation, and member services. For a list of ASA member shops, look for the ASA logo in your local yellow pages under “Automobile Repair & Service” or visit www.asashop.org. Service and achievement awards: Check out the framed certificates hanging in the facility manager’s office. Reliable facilities often receive awards for customer service excellence. Also look for certificates awarded to individual technicians who have completed factory-training programs that qualify them to operate specialized electronic equipment and for grateful letters from satisfied customers. Better Business Bureau: Check with your local Better Business Bureau to find out whether a shop has been the subject of numerous consumer complaints.
Referrals: I’ve always felt that the best way to find a good mechanic is the same way you find a doctor, lawyer, or plumber — through referrals. Ask people who drive the same make vehicle as you do where they go for repairs, and then check out the shops that are conveniently located.