Many factors go into choosing an auto repair service that is exactly right for you and there is a lot to consider before you make a decision. GarageFly.com's purpose is to help make your choice easier so the result is more satisfying.
There is no more important or reliable indicator of your future repair experience than the way a shop has treated its previous customers. Customers don't have to be "experts" to know if they have been treated fairly and repairs have been completed competently. GarageFly collects the reports from customers for hundreds of auto repair services so that you can know in advance how you are likely to be treated.
Credentials: Certifications and Associations
Professional certifications reassure consumers that the shop and its staff have received appropriate training and testing to correctly perform the necessary repair tasks. ASE is the most widely accepted certifying organization in the industry. Industry suppliers, like CARQUEST, also provide training and testing through their TECH-NET program.
Association memberships may additionally require the business to subscribe to a code of ethics and commit itself to binding arbitration should a dispute arise between the customer and the shop. ASA and BBB are the most appropriate of these associations.
A written warranty affirms the shop's confidence in its work and defines its commitment to meeting specific levels of work quality. The duration of the warranty varies based on the repair performed.
Special Auto Repair Services
Some shops offer auto repair services that make the repair experience more pleasant or simple. You may require special services like transmissions, emissions, etc. Perhaps you need a shop with Spanish-speaking personnel or prefer one that demonstrates environmental sensitivity. GarageFly strives to identify shops that offer these and other special services to improve your repair experience.
Appearance and Environment
A great deal about a shop's commitment to its customers is disclosed by the shop's appearance and the way it "feels." Cleanliness counts, and so does a relaxed environment. A shop that takes pride in its appearance most likely also takes pride in the business as a whole and the relationships it has with its customers.
Auto Repair Process
1. Describe the Problem
To the best of your ability, tell the shop what you think is wrong with your car. Also, provide any important information like how long will you plan to keep the car and how often you use it. This is a good reason for finding and keeping a good mechanic. They will already be familiar with your car.
2. Diagnose the Problem
The shop will inspect your car, including attaching it to electronic equipment, to try to determine what is causing the symptoms you are experiencing. They can then propose what will fix the problem and what it will cost.
3. Authorize Repairs
When you are comfortable with the diagnosis and estimate, give the shop permission to make the repairs.
4. Order and Receive Parts
The shop will order parts required as part of your service.
5. Arrange for a Rental Car
If the repair time will cause a major disruption, the shop can help you make arrangements for a rental, usually at special shop rates. If your car is under warranty, a rental car may be covered.
6. Complete Repairs
The shop will complete the service you have authorized.
7. Pick Up Your Car
When repairs are finished, the shop will call you to pick up your car.
Instrument Panel Lighting
Lights on your instrument panel fall generally into two categories:
- Critical Warning lights
- Service/Informational lights
The lights can be Red or Yellow, and the color should indicate to you the seriousness of the situation.
- Red Light - pull over immediately, refer to your owner's manual, address the problem now!
- Yellow Light - refer to your owner's manual and address the problem soon
Each vehicle manufacturer handles the systems differently, so you should refer to your owner's manual to understand what your lights mean.
Critical Warning Lights
- Engine Oil Pressure
- Engine Coolant Temperature
- Vehicle Charging System
- ABS Brake System
- Brake Lights
- Air Bags
- Emission System
- Service Reminder
- Door Ajar
- Windshield Washer Fluid
- Seat Belt
Brakes and Brake Fluid
For best results, have the entire brake system - including brake linings - inspected at every other oil change.
Check Engine Light On
If light comes on while driving or remains on, your engine may have an emissions or sensor problem and should be checked by a professional technician. If light flashes, the condition is more severe and must be checked immediately to prevent catalytic converter damage.
Check level at reservoir. Do not open hot radiator cap. If low, add 50/50 mix of approved antifreeze and distilled water.
Replace bulb immediately if light is out.
Tire Inflation and Condition
Inflate tires to recommended pressure. Replace tires if worn or damaged. Remember to check the spare. Check pressure of all tires including the spare. Check tread for wear and for cuts or bruised along the sidewalls.
Windshield Washer Fluid
Check level every other fill up. Some vehicles have two reservoirs. Do not use water. Use washer fluid only.
Automatic Transmission Fluid
Check level with engine running and transmission in park. If low, add type of ATF specified in owners' manual and/or on dipstick. For best results change every two years or 24,000 miles.
Engine Oil and Filter
Check level with engine off at every fill up. Change oil and filter every 3,000 miles or 3 months. Use specified oil grade and weight.
Every 3,000 miles
Battery and Cables
Battery should be securely mounted. Battery connections should be clean, tight and corrosion-free. If your car's battery is three years old or more, it should be replaced.
Check for looseness, cracks or glazing. Replace V-belts every four years/36,000 miles. Replace serpentine belts every four years/50,000 miles, or sooner if needed. Replace belt per interval specified in owner's manual. Typically, this is at 60,000 miles. Not replacing the belt as required could cause a breakdown or serious engine damage
Many newer cars are lubed-for-life, some still require this service. Replacement steering and suspension components require periodic lubrication.
Engine Air Filter
Replace yearly, or when dirty. Inspect annually, more often if driving and road conditions dictate.
Inspect for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. If you suspect a problem, have it inspected immediately by a professional technician.
On carbureted cars, replace the filter once a year. On cars with fuel injection, replace the filter every two years or 24,000 miles.
Inspect for leaks, cracks or bulges, sponginess, brittleness and swelling. Replace hoses at lease every four years.
Power Steering Fluid
Check the fluid with the car warmed up. Add approved type if low. If regular topping off is required, have system inspected for leaks.
Shock Absorbers and Struts
Inspect for leaks, damage and loose mounting hardware. Replace if worn, damaged or leaking. Have checked by a professional at lease once a year.
Replace when streaking or chattering.
Cabin Air Filter
Replace annually, more often in areas with heavy airborne contaminants.