Jeana's advice: Find the right repair shop

Me, a woman, writing auto articles? I never thought I would see the day. My first real experience on this topic was blowing up the engine in my first car, a white Pontiac Sunbird in 1992. I was a 17-year-old senior at Mayo High School. I needed wheels to get to school/work and just figured if I put gas in it and it ran, I was golden, right? Wrong. Nobody told me I needed to change the oil, much less what kind I should use and how often I should do it. There was so much I didn't know back then.

Over the years, I have learned much about the auto industry from my husband, Jeremy, and from observations of my own. Today I work full time at Jeremy's independently owned repair shop as his "right-hand woman." Perhaps my thoughts and opinions over the upcoming months (look for me the first Thursday of each month) will be helpful to you as you consider the options available to you to have a healthy vehicle.

Our first order of business it seems is to find an auto repair shop right for you. Have you considered how you make this decision? Do you ponder convenience or comfort? Do you shop around for best prices or make your decision based on coupons? Or are you simply smitten with the cute service advisor at the front desk? Whatever your current motivation for this decision, I hope you'll consider my thoughts on this subject.

If you are all about coupons and the best prices, I caution you to really do your homework. Even if a shop is offering coupons, how do their other prices relate to others in town? Are they comparable or do they increase other services to offer you a discounted oil change? Jumping from repair shop to repair shop is not recommended because the biggest part of making this decision is this: Do you trust the people who are working on your vehicle? Does the shop have open communication between their service advisors and their technicians? Are you able to see your car or technician if you want to? Are they using quality parts? What kind of oil are they putting in your vehicle? What kind of warranty do they offer? These are all questions you want to ask yourself if your major concern is price. Price and quality are different.

Word of mouth is perhaps one of the best ways to find a repair shop. If you get the "thumbs up" from a family member or friend, do a little homework. Visit the website of the repair shop and get to know them. Check out their reviews and Facebook page. Some repair shops will have reviews on their website from past customers and have links to their Facebook or other social media pages for your ease. How does the website make you feel? Give them a call. What's your first impression of the person on the other end of the phone? Visit the repair shop. Are the service advisors and/or owners friendly and knowledgeable? What are the other conveniences the shop has to offer? Do you get warm fuzzies or heebie-jeebies when you walk in? You moms of preschoolers … do they have a play areas for your children while you await vehicle repairs? Or if you want to get away from your little ones for the day, do they have a comfortable waiting area for you to relax in? Do they offer free Wi-fi and coffee? For longer repairs or for your general convenience, do they offer free shuttle service? Is your shuttle driver friendly or are there long awkward silences? Do they call you by name or perhaps know your name when you come in? Why not search for an auto repair shop with it all? Different things are important to different people. But in general, the look and feel of a shop can say a lot about the place you choose to call your "auto-home."

I've only just begun … I have so much more to share with you. I look forward to next month. Same time, same place.

By Jeana Babcock

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