Selecting an Auto Repair Shop
American drivers are keeping their vehicles longer instead of investing in new ones, which can be a smart move, as long as drivers keep up with routine auto maintenance. The best way to save money over the life of a vehicle is to choose a high-quality, full-service repair shop to do the necessary auto maintenance and repair work. But how can you find a reliable repair shop?
Look for the AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) sign.
AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) was created more than 35 years ago, and now the AAR program lists nearly 8,000 AAR facilities across North America. The AAR program includes dealers, independent and specialty repair shops. Every AAA-approved facility undergoes a thorough investigation, and less than half of all applicants are approved. After approval, AAR shops are visited quarterly, re-inspected annually and monitored for customer satisfaction to ensure ongoing compliance with AAA standards. To find a nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facility, visit AAA.com/repair.
AAA members receive the following benefits at AAA Approved Auto Repair shops:
- Free Auto Maintenance Inspection – On request, when having paid repair work done by a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility, your vehicle will be inspected at no charge for those items that most frequently contribute to roadside breakdowns.
- Written Estimate – You will be given a written estimate of the cost of all work to be performed on your vehicle. The final cost may not exceed the estimate by more than 10 percent unless authorized by you in advance.
- Warranty – Unless otherwise specified in writing prior to the start of work, all repairs (both parts and labor) are guaranteed for a minimum of 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, under normal operating conditions.
- Dispute Resolution – AAA will investigate any dispute between a AAA member and a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility. AAA’s resolution decision is binding on the facility, but you are not bound by AAA’s decision and may seek recourse through other avenues.
Many AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities also offer discounts to AAA members. Visit AAA.com/discounts for more information.
In finding a repair shop on your own, consider the facility type: dealerships, which have factory-trained technicians who are aware of service bulletins or special advisories; independents, which may be slightly less expensive and may offer more personal attention; and specialists, which employ experts on certain vehicle makes.
You might also evaluate the auto repair shop’s appearance (cleanliness is a plus), amenities (WiFi lounges or courtesy shuttles can make a difference), qualified technicians, range of equipment and local reputation. Be sure to inquire about discounts and warranties. And once you choose a repair shop, give it a test drive with a visit for a minor service like an oil change or tire rotation before you bring in your vehicle for a more advanced repair.