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Airbag Hazards: Pro and Con
Don't be Fuelish
Put the Squeeze on Your Cooling System
Automatic Transmission Care
Visit to a good service center
Shopping for service centers
A Bit of Prevention …
Fall Behind
Choosing Tires for Wintertime Driving
A Little Good Reading
Tires Last Longer With Proper Care
Car Care Resolutions For a New Millennium
Flats and Flares: Roadside Emergencies
Spruce Up For Spring
DIY at the Self-Service Pump
Fill Gas Cans Carefully
Ford Recalls Millions of Firestone Tires
Doing the Straight & Narrow

Shopping for service centers

When you’re looking for a good service center, don’t discount the human factor

So how, exactly, does one go about finding a service center they can come to rely on?

As with most businesses, it usually boils down to people – developing relationships with people you can trust, along with some common-sense things to look for when you’re sizing up a service center.

At most service centers there is a key person who sets the general tone. This is usually the owner or service manager, but it could even be the receptionist. Try to find a key person in the service center, someone you like and trust, and build a personal relationship with him or her. It’s simply human nature for the folks running the service center to work more attentively for people they like.

Your relationship with this person and their service center will develop over time. Look for the service center and the person before you need them. And follow some of these hints, too.

Indicators of a good service center

  • The service center is clean and professional in appearance.
  • The customer is treated with respect and listened to.
  • Service managers and writers are friendly, attentive and communicative.
  • Technicians are curious, concerned and committed.
  • Managers are happy to let customers and technicians talk to each other.
  • Technicians are certified by the ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence). Look for the blue ASE seal; these training credentials are usually visible to consumers (but check to make sure they’re certified in the type of work you’re having done).
  • The service center is well equipped to do the work, whether it is specialty or general.
  • The service center is an iCARumba member – that means they’re subject to iCARumba’s consumer ratings.
  • The service center is a Better Business Bureau member
  • The service center is recommended by friends, family or professional acquaintances.
  • The service center has been in business for an appreciable amount of time.
  • The service center has a written policy regarding refunds and warranty.
  • The service center has a signature-required policy for repairs to begin.
  • The service center has an in-place arbitration and come-back policy.
  • The service center exudes a general feeling of success.
  • The service center offers the "extras" – pick-up and delivery; wash and vacuum with scheduled maintenance; clean; comfortable waiting area, and other conveniences.

The more of these indicators a service center has in their favor, the more likely they are going to be there for you when you really need them. And aside from that checklist, apply a bit of simple reasoning. Here are a few closing thoughts.

Simple stuff makes sense

  • Better technicians work at better service centers.
  • New car dealerships know how to fix what they sell.
  • ASE Certification means the technicians have been doing their homework and keeping up with changes in service technology.
  • A good mechanic or service representative will explain to the customer what the problem is and will show them, if the customer wants to see.
  • In cases of repair or replacement, a good service center will ask if the customer wants the replaced parts.