AAA Offers Tips on Maintaining Cars and Choosing Repair Technicians
SALT LAKE CITY, October 13, 2008 – The best mechanic is one you don’t see very often. In recognition of October Car Care Month, AAA Utah presents tips for consumers to avoid costly car repairs and choose the right auto technician for maintenance.
“Preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid the expensive headache of car repair,” said Rolayne Fairclough, spokesperson for AAA Utah. “Keep to the service schedule laid out in your owner’s manual for oil changes, tire rotations, brake checks, battery replacements and the like, and you’ll spend as little time and money as possible at the shop.”
From now through December 31, AAA members can receive a free 36-point visual inspection and detailed inspection report at participating Approved Auto Repair facilities. To find a participating repair facility, call (800) 645-4288, extension 4, or visit www.aaa.com/freeinspection.
When you do require auto maintenance or repair, you can help ensure reliable, quality service by using the following checklist:
- Determine what type of repair facility is needed.
Most vehicles can be repaired and maintained by a full-service repair facility, but if there is a major problem with a specific vehicle system, a shop specializing in that area might be the best choice. Vehicles still under warranty typically must be repaired by the dealer.
- Select a repair facility you trust.
Get recommendations from friends, relatives and co-workers, or choose one of more than 8,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities in the U.S. and Canada. To qualify, facilities must meet and maintain stringent standards for service, training, cleanliness and equipment as well as positive reputation and high customer satisfaction. To locate a AAA-approved facility, visit www.aaa.com/repair.
- Make an appointment.
If the facility manager knows a motorist is coming and has a rough idea of the problem, the right technician can be assigned to the job and allowed enough time to get it done properly.
- Describe the problem.
Don’t tell the technician what needs to be repaired or replaced unless it’s obvious. Instead, describe the problem and its symptoms, and let the technician determine the appropriate solution.
- Read the repair order.
Be wary of blanket statements such as “check and correct transmission noise” or “fix engine.” This could result in an unexpected and costly major repair. Never sign a blank repair order or tell the shop to “just fix it” or “do what’s necessary” unless the problem is covered under warranty.
- Get a written estimate.
Oral estimates can be disputed or forgotten. Always ask for a written estimate prior to approving work on your vehicle.
- Insist on a call if repair costs will exceed the estimate.
Predicting exact repair costs can be difficult, so most written estimates allow up to a 10 percent overrun. However, motorists should make sure it’s written on the repair order that they want to be called if the costs will exceed this allowance.
- Carefully consider add-on repairs.
If the repair facility calls to say a different part of the vehicle also needs work, it may be best to defer those repairs until a later visit unless the shop can provide clear justification for making them immediately. Don’t hesitate to get a second opinion if the extra work does not appear warranted.
- Ask for replaced parts.
When dropping a vehicle off for service, consumers should tell the shop they will want to see any replaced parts. Consumers are also entitled to keep those parts, unless the facility must return them under a warranty or exchange program. Replaced parts and a well-documented repair order can be useful if there is a problem later.
- Take a test drive.
If a problem remains or the vehicle does not run properly after it’s picked it up, don’t go home. Return to the shop immediately. If a problem arises after leaving the shop, make an appointment to bring the vehicle back as soon as possible.
- Get a detailed copy of the repair order.
Make sure it specifies the costs of labor and each part. Ask for the facility’s warranty in writing if it’s not printed on the bill. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities offer a minimum 12-month/12,000-mile warranty.
Another way to save car-related time and trouble is to skip long lines at the DMV and renew your vehicle registration at a AAA Utah office. Locate AAA offices near you that offer DMV services by visiting www.aaa.com/dmv.
AAA Utah offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to more than 180,000 members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago.