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Auto Club's Top Five Ways to Pick a Good Mechanic

22 October 1999

Auto Club's Top Five Ways to Pick a Good Mechanic; National Car Care Month Highlights Some of Southern California's Best Repair Facilities With Free Check-Ups

    LOS ANGELES--Oct. 21, 1999--Experts who evaluate auto repair facilities for the Automobile Club of Southern California say consumers can find a good mechanic on their own with the help of a few simple guidelines. In honor of National Car Care Month in October, they are sharing their tips on locating the best local repair facilities.
    "Reliability and professional service at fair prices are major concerns for drivers who have to service their vehicles," said Ed Lindsay, manager of the Auto Club's Approved Auto Repair Program. "People who have moved to a new area or purchased a new car may feel as insecure about using a different mechanic as they do about visiting a new doctor or dentist."
    More than 23 years ago, the Auto Club began evaluating local repair facilities to determine which ones best serve consumers' needs. Those who meet the Auto Club's rigorous standards of customer service, training and quality work are eligible to participate in the Approved Auto Repair Program, which means they undergo regular inspections to ensure they continue providing high levels of service. More than 700 repair shops in Southern California are designated as Approved Auto Repair facilities.
    The experts who inspect repair businesses for the Auto Club offer the following checklist to consumers shopping for a new mechanic:

1)   Get a recommendation from a family member or friend. But before
     using the reference, consumers should find out whether the
     recommended shop specializes in certain types of vehicles or
     repairs, and how many times the facility has been used by the
     person making the recommendation. If the shop specialty does not
     fit your needs, don't use it.

2)   Look at the shop's certification. A state license should be
     displayed in the repair shop. Other business affiliations that
     are helpful include: Automotive Service Council (ASC), Better
     Business Bureau or AAA's Approved Auto Repair (AAR).

3)   Ask about the mechanic's training. Certificates from Automotive
     Service Excellence (ASE) indicate the mechanics have completed
     specialized tests for certification. Check to see that the
     mechanic who works on your vehicle has these training
     certificates displayed or credentials from a community college or
     trade school automotive course.

4)   Get facts about the warranty and quality of work. At minimum, a
     good repair facility will guarantee its work for 12,000 miles or
     12 months. A repair business should have updated diagnostic and
     repair equipment capable of servicing the latest models. And make
     sure that if parts are replaced, they are from the original
     equipment manufacturer ("OEM" parts).

5)   Make sure you understand the costs and reasons for repairs. A
     quality repair shop will provide a written estimate before
     beginning repairs, as required by state law. This estimate cannot
     be exceeded without customer approval. The repair business owner
     or mechanic should clearly explain what is wrong with your
     vehicle, what needs to be done and why.

    To commemorate National Car Care Month in October, participating Approved Auto Repair facilities are offering free 38-point inspections to both Auto Club members and non-members. The free inspections will include checks on:

-- Lubricants and fluids;
-- The car battery;
-- Belts, pulley and hoses;
-- Tires and filters; and
-- Headlights, turn signals and other lights.

    To schedule an appointment, contact a local Auto Club office or visit the Club's Web site at to find the closest Approved Auto Repair garage.
    The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest affiliate of the AAA, has been serving members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's emergency road service, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs and legislative advocacy. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at