June 26, 2015
There is definitely no lack of auto repair shops in Maryland. In fact, we bet within a 5-mile radius of your home there are probably at least 3 shops you can take your car to. But only a fraction of them offer the magical combination of quality service, affordable rates and great customer care. As the saying goes, you’ll have to kiss many frogs before you find the right mechanic. And here are a few tips to help guide you along the way.
1. Ask to Show You the Problem
If you bring your car in with an issue and get recommended repairs, ask the mechanic to show you exactly what and why it needs to be done. Are they recommending air filter replacement? Have them pull it out and show you the dirt. Do they want you to get a new clutch? Let them explain why it’s necessary and which part of the clutch assembly is failing.
Be weary of technicians who refuse to show or fail to explain the problem. A good mechanic would want you to fully understand what he recommends and why, so that you know what you are agreeing to. It’s in our best interest as Maryland auto repair professionals to help you understand the issue with your car, so that you can have reasonable expectations about the extent, cost and timeline of the repair.
A bonus tip: ask to see the part that’s been replaced. If it indeed needed replacement, your mechanic should be happy to show you where it’s broken or worn out.
2. Look for Someone Who Gives You Options
When you are being quoted for service or repair, you shouldn’t feel forced to make a decision right then and there without assessing your options. A good mechanic will never push you or use scare tactics to inflate the urgency of the repair. Look for someone who offers you options and treats you with respect. Remember, you can always take your car to Hillmuth for an honest second opinion.
3. Ask to Speak to the Manager
Every auto repair shop should have a store manager or a foreman. This is typically someone who is experienced both in cars and customer service. And the entire shop is only as effective and as organized as the manager. An auto shop manager is usually a very busy person, but they should find a few minutes to speak with a new customer. Ask them about the history of the shop, types of vehicles they service or the most common problems they fix. This will give you an idea of how well he or she understands their own business. And keep in mind, this will be the person you’ll be talking to if any issues arise, so it’s worth checking how accommodating and friendly they are.
4. Talk to Your Friends and Family
Everyone has cars these days, and these cars need to be serviced somewhere. Ask your friends and family which mechanics they trust to work on their cars. If your friends and family are local, you will soon find the same auto shop names being mentioned over and over. This is a good place to start your search. If you don’t know anyone local, check out online reviews on sites like Repair Pal, Angie’s List, Google or Facebook. Both happy and unhappy customers tend to be vocal and public about their experiences, so you should find plenty of testimonials.
5. Trust Your Gut
If you feel like your mechanic is being dishonest, is overcharging or looks incompetent, keep in mind that an estimate is just an estimate. You are free to go to a different Maryland auto repair shop and ask for a second opinion. Trust your gut and go with your instinct. It’s rare that a “shady” shop can make it for long in this competitive industry, but it takes just a few regulars to keep them afloat—don’t become one of them!
And you are always welcome to talk to our managers and mechanics at Hillmuth Certified Automotive of Columbia, Gaithersburg, Clarksville or Glenwood. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and show you how we work.