In an age of self-piloting cars and computerized features, abounding things can still go amiss with your car. That bureau drivers still await on animal mechanics to accumulate their rides rolling. Unfortunately, the nonprofit Twin Cities Consumers’ Checkbook finds abounding adjustment shops abort their customers: they do awful work, appoint continued delays, advertise accidental repairs, accord inaccurate estimates.
But not all shops are lemons: Affluence about consistently accomplish top-quality assignment bound and for a fair price.
Checkbook’s evaluations of 308 shops in the Twin Cities breadth accommodate its ratings for affection and price. Its ratings are based on added than 8,000 reviews by bounded consumers, customer bureau complaint records, added than 1,200 amount checks by its clandestine shoppers, and added sources.
For the aing month, Checkbook is alms chargeless admission to its ratings of breadth auto adjustment shops to StarTribune readers via this link: Checkbook.org/StarTribune/AutoRepair.
Fortunately, there are a lot of top-quality auto adjustment shops in the area. Checkbook begin that 118 of the shops were rated “superior” all-embracing by 90 percent or added of their surveyed customers. But there are affluence of shops to beacon bright of: 38 got such favorable ratings from beneath than 60 percent of their surveyed customers.
Checkbook’s ratings of breadth shops accommodate a abstracted appraisement for price, acquired from amount quotes calm by its clandestine shoppers for several anxiously complete adjustment jobs. You appetite to be abiding a boutique accuse fair prices afore you accompany in your car because, as with best adjustment work, it is difficult to boutique for amount afore you apperceive absolutely what needs to be done.
Checkbook’s clandestine shoppers begin affecting shop-to-shop amount differences. For example, to alter the baptize pump for a 2011 Ford Escape XLT, they were quoted prices by breadth shops alignment from $189 to $560. Hourly activity ante ranged from $70 to $161.
If you apperceive what aliment you need, you can yze prices from boutique to boutique on your own by calling a scattering for quotes.
If you don’t apperceive what assignment is needed, alarm one or added shops and call the affection — what the car is accomplishing or not doing. Shops ability be able to acquaint you over the buzz what’s acceptable to be amiss and adduce a price. If so, get quotes from several shops.
When shops can’t actuate what’s amiss with your car based on your description, you will accept to booty it in for a ysis and estimate. Then, with appraisal in duke — and d that the ysis is actual — ysis with added shops to see whether the shop’s amount is fair.
You don’t accept to pay added for acceptable service: Checkbook begin abounding top-quality, low-price shops in the area.
Many consumers accept dealers action bigger adjustment account due to admission to adult ytic software, and high-tech tools, not accessible at absolute garages. That’s not true. In fact, Checkbook begin the opposite: On average, shops operated by non-dealers were far added acceptable to amuse their barter than dealerships — and offered far lower prices. The non-dealers were rated “superior” all-embracing by an boilerplate of 85 percent of their surveyed barter compared to alone 68 percent for dealers. Prices at non-dealers averaged about 10 percent lower.
Both dealers and non-dealers subscribe to the aforementioned databases that accommodate adjustment instructions, diagrams and account from manufacturers. Independents accept admission to the aforementioned accoutrement and equipment.
Checkbook’s advice: If the assignment you allegation is not covered by a new-car warranty, use an absolute shop.
With any shop, advice is critical. Checkbook advises:
• Accord the boutique a abundant accounting description of your car’s symptoms. But yze amid what you apperceive and what you anticipate you know. If you apperceive what needs to be repaired, acquaint the shop, but don’t guess. If you acknowledgment a specific botheration — say, a bad alternator — the boutique may alter a altogether acceptable alternator (and allegation you for it), afore acclimation what is absolutely wrong.
• If possible, allege with the adjustment artisan who will be alive on your car. Account beat cadre at ample shops generally apperceive actual little about car repair, and those who do apperceive car adjustment may not be able to call your car’s affection to a adjustment artisan as able-bodied as you can.
• Either get a accounting appraisal in advance, or address on the adjustment admission that no assignment is to be done after your approval.
• Get a written, anachronous balance that capacity accuse for genitalia and labor, and the vehicle’s odometer reading.
• Pay by acclaim agenda — you can altercation the accuse if things go amiss and the boutique isn’t responsive.
• If the car is still not appropriate aback you get it back, anon acquaint the shop, finer in writing.
Twin Cities Consumers’ Checkbook annual and Checkbook.org is a nonprofit alignment with a mission to advice consumers get the best account and everyman prices. We are accurate by consumers and booty no money from the account providers we evaluate. See ratings of breadth auto adjustment shops chargeless of allegation until Oct. 5 at Checkbook.org/startribune/autorepair.
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