The Three Ts: What Makes a Good Repair Shop

November 1, 2011

Lately, some of us at RepairPal have been traveling to different auto repair shops in our area. Our goal is to determine what makes a great repair shop. From a technical side, that is pretty easy for us to determine. We can look at the training, qualifications, and years of experience of the service advisors and technicians. A service advisor may or may not be a former technician, but those who are probably have a better understanding of vehicle diagnoses and repair. In any case, all service advisors should have some form of basic training and continue to receive training throughout their career.

Most customers assume the technician working on their vehicle is properly trained, yet this is not always the case. The best repair shops insist on proper training for all of their technicians. However, there is no government oversight requiring automotive repair technicians to receive any training at all!

Great technicians receive two types of training—foundational and ongoing update training. Foundational training can vary from a crash course at a trade school to an AS degree in automotive technology from a community college. Ongoing training helps technicians keep up with the ever changing technology and systems they are asked to diagnose and repair every day.

In almost all cases, the best technicians have excellent foundational training and continue to keep their knowledge current by attending update training classes regularly. When you are looking for a repair shop, don’t hesitate to ask about the training of their technicians. You may even see the certificates displayed on the wall.

Another way to determine the quality of the service advisors and technicians at a shop is to look for ASE certifications. While there is only one certification test for service advisors, there are eight basic tests and two advanced tests for automotive technicians. A technician who passes the eight basic tests is considered an ASE master tech. These certifications should be proudly displayed at a quality repair shop.

Next on the list of what makes a great repair shop is tools. Technicians invest ten of thousands of dollars in their personal tools. Repair shops can easily spend ten times that amount or more on specialized shop tools and equipment. Most routine service work doesn’t require a lot of special tools. However, more complicated repairs can. While it’s difficult for a customer to determine if a repair shop has the proper tools to work on their vehicle, it can’t hurt to ask, especially on newer vehicles when the computer systems are involved.

Something that can be easily overlooked by customers is the look and feel of the repair shop. A great repair shop should have a welcoming reception area where you are promptly greeted by a friendly and helpful staff. While this might not seem that important, great customer service is just one more way the best repair shops rise above the others. A customer should never feel unwelcome or intimidated when dealing with a repair shop. If you are, it may be time to look for another shop.

So, there you have it—the three Ts in finding a great repair shop: Training, Tools, and Thoughtfulness. Please tell us what you think makes a great repair shop!

About the Author

Jim Taddei has been in the automotive field since 1975 and has over 25 years of experience with General Motors products, achieving the designation of GM Master Technician. He is also currently certified as an ASE Master Technician, and holds an Advanced California Smog Check License. He has been the lead technician and team leader at a multi-line dealership. After leaving the dealership he spent a couple of years working in an independent shop and now uses his experience and expertise to help verify the quality of RepairPal Certified shops.

1 User Comment

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By , November 19, 2011
I am so glad I found this site! Thank you! I like it when a shop lists the part numbers and mfg of the part along with the part cost and labor cost. Also when they are willing to explain some basic things about the repair job as well as the average time expected to do the repair.