Ten steps to avoid automobile repair rip-offsWritten by Mark Moses | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ten years ago, auto repair was No. 1 on the list of consumer complaints at the Ohio Attorney General office and the Better Business Bureau. There has been a change for the better, but auto repair still ranks near the top on both lists.
The BBB locally and nationally continues to rank auto repair complaints in the top 10. According to the Ohio Attorney General office, auto repair complaints ranked No. 7 of the top 10 for 2004. What makes up the recent list may surprise you; some of these businesses did not exist a decade ago:
1. Automobile sales and leasing: New and used purchases, leasing and lemon law.
2. Home improvements and services: Repairs and improvements to homes and new home construction.
3. Credit and loan services: Credit cards, advance fee loans, credit repair and other financial issues.
4. Computer and Internet sales and services: Online service providers, Internet auctions, online advertising and computer hardware and software sales.
5. Collections and credit reporting: Collection of debts.
6. Professional/personal services: Clubs, associations and services such as alterations, florists, dating services and child care.
7. Automobile repairs: Repair and service of automobiles.
8. Telecommunications: Sale and service of telephone equipment and long distance and wireless services.
9. Health and beauty: Beauty salons/barber shops, fitness/health memberships, vitamins, diet and tanning salons.
10. Household goods: Home appliances and furniture.
Why the changes? Many factors are at play, including more dependable cars and fewer, but more qualified, auto repair facilities. One generation ago, there was a full-service gas station on every corner that also had a few service bays. It didn’t take a lot of training to ”try” to fix cars back then. Many of the guys who would pump your gas were the same guys who fixed your car. I know; I was one of them.
In the 1980s came fuel injection and electronic engine management (computers) and the auto repair industry began a slow change. Many of the corner gas stations became a convenience store and auto repair became very different. What was different? Primarily the people — auto repair now required extensive training and continuing education in addition to mechanical inclination. Today, auto repair has three primary players: New car dealers, chain stores and independent garages.
There are some great shops in the Toledo area and I offer you this advice: Talk to your friends and ask where they have received great service. Check with the local BBB for any outstanding complaints and ask many questions of the facility.
You can also look for ASE certification of the mechanics, but here is a hint — ASE certifies mechanics in eight different areas. Just because the mechanic has certification in one or two areas does not mean they will be certified in many other areas. A master technician is certified in all eight areas. Look and ask for a master technician. The other thing you may want to look for is an AAA-approved auto repair facility.
When you do find the shop that meets your needs, stay put — they will get to know you, your driving habits and your car. You will receive good work, proper maintenance and hopefully, no breakdowns. You don’t change your doctor every month; you shouldn’t change your mechanic, either.
Mark Moses, who has been an ASE master technician for more than 28 years, is the owner of Moses Automotive and North Coast Motorcycle, both in the Toledo area. If you have a car or motorcycle question, e-mail him at Mark@MosesAutomotive.com.