Don't mess around when choosing a mechanic to work on your car. Keep an ear open for recommendations and warnings when your friends and family have car troubles. If you know beforehand of a body shop you feel comfortable with, you won’t need to make a rushed or incomplete decision when you need one.
Ask friends and associates for their recommendations. I stay in touch with homeschooling families. They’re often part of a larger group that can share recommendations for mechanics they’ve felt were honest and reputable.
Check with your local Better Business Bureau regarding the reputation of a particular body shop. Ask about the number of complaints, if there were any, and how the complaints were resolved. Don’t be too anxious if there were some complaints. No one pleases everybody, and there are some people you can’t satisfy no matter what. But if you see a pattern of the same kinds of problems, beware.
Next, pay a visit to the shop and ask if they handle your vehicle make and model. Check to see how long they’ve been in business. What kind of feel do you get about the place? Are you treated with courtesy? Does the staff behave professionally?
You don’t need to “white glove test” the place, but it should be neat, and organized. Also, times are a’changin’, and modern equipment is an absolute must.
Sometimes, vehicle manufacturers recommend specific repair procedures and tools for the repair of their vehicles. Ask if the shop is trained in these procedures and has the necessary equipment.
Are there any civic and community service awards hanging on the walls? It’s a nice touch. Do you see diplomas or certificates of competence? You want a technically competent staff.
Look around the place. What kinds of vehicles seem to be in the repair stage? Does everything look like it’s being handled professionally? Don’t be shy about talking to folks in the waiting room to see they’ve tried the shop before and how pleased they are with the service they’ve received in the past.
My number one suggestion is to ask around and see where others have had satisfactory car repair work done. Even if you’re feeling stressed and in a hurry, ask at least 15 people. That way, you’re likely to get the same place mentioned more than once. A little time spent on the basics can save you a load of trouble in the long run. And once you find mechanic you trust, your car’s future looks a lot brighter.