If you do feel comfortable after calling and following the advice in post #1, you’re probably on to a good shop. Then, drive by their location and just look them over. Observe the cars in their parking lot or in the service bays if you can see inside. Do you see a mix of cars similar to yours or those in your neighborhood? Does it look like they work on cars like yours? Does the shop appear to be clean, well lit and well maintained?
Watch for bad signs, like dusty, broken-down looking cars in the parking lot, maybe sitting on a jack stand with the wheel off. Cars that have obviously been sitting in the parking lot for a long time are not a good sign. Something like that should definitely set alarm bells ringing.
Compare the shops you visit. Make an informed decision and choose the one that looks like it will best meet your needs based on these steps.
Then, make an appointment for something relatively simple and easy—preferably an oil change. When you take your car in, speak to the Service Advisor there. You should feel comfortable and confident talking with them. If you don’t, you might want to try another shop. You should always be comfortable with the people you are dealing with.
Tell them you’ll wait for your car to be ready. While you’re waiting, look and listen. You can learn a lot by doing that. Pay attention to how employees interact with each other and with other customers. Notice how they answer the phone. If possible, watch the way they handle your car. It won’t take long before you arrive at an opinion about how professionally they run their shop. That can go a long way in helping you make a decision.
The next post (#3) will deal with some additional things you can use when choosing a great repair shop for your maintenance and repair needs.