How To Talk With A Shop About Auto Repair

AAA Auto Repair Article
By AAA Automotive
Please enter location as CITY, STATE or a POSTAL CODE.
Search For AAA Approved Auto Repair Facilities
Search For AAA Approved Auto Repair Facilities
The AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility Locator is a powerful search tool that gives you easy access to information on over 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America.
X
Nearest AAA Approved Auto Repair Facilities
Map
Current Location:
20147
Legend
This facility is AAA owned and operated.
This is a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility; however, it is not owned and operated by AAA.*
This facility offers priority battery health diagnostic services to AAA members and if necessary, install a new AAA battery with 72 month pro-rated warranty including 3-year free replacement at exclusive member pricing.
A NAPA AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility*
Takes Online Appointments
Provides AAA Discount
*The certification mark, as used by authorized persons, certifies that such persons have met the certifier's standards as to quality of customer service, facility appearance, staff qualifications and training, community reputation, scope of service and repairs and insurance.
If your car has a problem, you may hold the key to unlocking the solution. After all, you know your car better than anyone and will be first to notice if its performance changes. The more information you can share with the auto repair shop and your mechanic about what you are experiencing, the better prepared they will be to identify the problem in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Auto Shop
(AAA image)
Help Your Technician Make An Accurate Diagnosis

When discussing car trouble with an auto repair shop, some drivers offer a diagnosis or request a specific service operation. They may think this makes them appear knowledgeable, or hope that by asking for “just a tune-up” they can limit the repair costs. Unfortunately, this approach often results in spending money on work that has no effect on the problem. A better approach is to simply describe the symptoms your car exhibits and allow a trained auto mechanic to make an accurate diagnosis. For example:

  • Are any warning lights on?
  • When did you first notice the problem? Did anything unusual happen at that time?
  • What feels different to you? (steering pulls, brake pedal spongy, vibration, etc.)
  • What do you hear? (rattling backfires, screeching, etc.)
  • Do you notice any unusual smells? (gasoline, smoke, burning rubber, etc.)
  • Do you see any leaks or fluid stains where you park? What color is the fluid?
  • When does the problem occur? (time of day, weather conditions, vehicle load, accelerating, braking, turning, etc.)
  • When do you not notice the problem?

To prevent forgetting anything, it can be helpful to put your observations in writing before you head to the shop. Once there, be honest and practice full disclosure. If another auto shop worked on your vehicle recently, or you tried to fix the problem yourself, tell the repair shop and technician because this will affect how they approach the diagnosis.


Precision Is Key

When describing symptoms to an auto mechanic. Refer to the driver and passenger sides of the car (not left and right). Explain the symptoms in terms of your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, and feel? Avoid technical jargon unless you are sure what a term or phrase means. Here are some sample problem descriptions:

  • When driving over bumps, I hear a rattle under the front of the car on the passenger side.
  • When I apply the brakes, the steering pulls to the driver’s side and there is a grinding noise.
  • When driving up a hill in the rain the car begins to shake and loses power.
  • The car stalls at stoplights, and when I restart the engine black smoke comes from the tail pipe and there is the smell of gasoline.

Even if you fear some of your observations are silly or irrelevant, state them anyway. Something that seems minor to you could save the auto repair shop and mechanic a lot of time, and you a lot of money. Clear and thorough communication is key to resolving car problems in a timely and cost-effective manner. When you do your part by sharing information, everyone benefits.


Finding Quality Auto Repair

AAA recommends that you plan ahead for vehicle service by finding an auto repair shop and technician you can trust before you need them. AAA.com/AutoRepair provides information on nearly 7,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities that have met AAA’s high standards for appearance, technician training and certification, insurance coverage and customer satisfaction. AAA regularly inspects every Approved Auto Repair facility and surveys their customers to ensure ongoing performance. In addition, AAA members receive special benefits that include auto repair discounts, an extended 24-month/24,000-mile parts and labor warranty, and AAA assistance in resolving repair-related issues.
Related Articles
See All (84)
True Cost of Electric Vehicles

True Cost of Electric Vehicles

Previous research from AAA has found that 40 million Americans have expressed interested in going electric for their next vehicle … yet the roads are still mostly filled with gas-powered cars....
Transporting a Christmas Tree

Transporting a Christmas Tree

If not properly secured, a tree can cause vehicle damage such as scratched paint, torn door seals or distorted window frames....
Auto Repairs That Scare

Auto Repairs That Scare

AAA’s automotive experts - David Bennett and Michael Calkins – tell scary stories about DIY car repairs you won’t believe! They also discuss ways to take the scare of getting your vehicle repaired....
How to Find a Trusted Repair Shop

How to Find a Trusted Repair Shop

Trying to pick a repair shop can be stressful. David Bennett – AAA’s automotive expert – and Dennis McLaughlin of Honest-1 Auto Care give tips on how to pick a shop that’s right for you! ...