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Before I started working as a marketing manager in an auto repair shop, I can honestly say that I knew nothing about my car or how to maintain it. In fact, you would only catch me reading about my car if I were looking for some bedtime reading.

The reality is, paying attention to your car and learning how to check things can save money and make driving safer and more enjoyable.

First things first, how do you choose a shop? Well, the advice that was given to me is how do you choose any service provider? Think about your doctor, dentist, hair salon or even where you buy your morning coffee. First, is the shop clean? The outside of some shops may look old but the inside should look clean and organized.

Second, how is the staff? Are they friendly, confident and welcoming? Additionally, if you have scheduled an appointment are you waiting excessively after the time you have made your appointment for the shop to fit you in?

Third, are the mechanics ASE certified? An ASE Certified technician is a technician who has fulfilled the voluntary requirements for certification by the US National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. To become ASE certified, a mechanic has to demonstrate at least two years of work experience and pass at least one specialty test.

Fourth, ask friends, co-workers and family who they use. Sometimes, the cheapest or the closest shop may not be your best alternative. Look for reviews on sites like Angies List or Google reviews to see what type of rating the shop has and how satisfied customers are. If the shop has a perfect rating with not one negative review also be a bit wary. The reality is most small business "screw up" every once in a while and you want to make sure that the reviews are by real people writing honest reviews.

The best way to gage whether you are comfortable with a shop is to make an appointment to have something small like an oil change done. Then watch how you are treated. After the oil change are you provided with a checklist of items that the technician looked at? Were fluids looked at? If any additional problems were found with the vehicle were those discussed with you? Likewise, if the technician discusses additional problems with your vehicle are they explained clearly and their implications discussed.

Auto shops have a bad reputation but like everything there are good and bad so do your homework.

Safe Travels!

Girls Meets Mechanic – Shop Talk