In difficult economic times, it’s natural to cut back on spending, but the experts at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) advise that putting off automotive maintenance and service can cost you more in the long run, with small problems growing into more expensive repairs. For example, failure to replace worn brake pads or a faulty oxygen sensor — both relatively easy services for qualified auto technicians — can result in expensive brake rotor service or costly replacement of the vehicle’s catalytic converter, respectively.
A survey of ASE-certified master automotive technicians indicated that motorists should expect a well-maintained vehicle to last up to twice as long as one that’s been neglected. Among the more frequently neglected items, according to these certified pros, are oil changes, tire and brake service, wheel alignment, air and fuel filters and transmission service. In addition, a well-maintained vehicle gets better gasoline mileage, pollutes less, is safer to operate and commands a better resale value, notes ASE.
To help consumers choose a repair shop that fits their needs, ASE offers the following checklist advice:
– Look for a neat, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays.
– Look for a courteous staff, with a service consultant willing to answer all of your questions.
– Look for policies regarding estimated repair costs, diagnostic fees, guarantees and acceptable methods of payment.
– Ask if the repair facility specializes or if it usually handles your type of repair work.
– Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area such as civic, community or customer service awards.
– Look for evidence of qualified technicians: trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced course work and certification by ASE.
– Look for the ASE sign or logo; it means the shop employs nationally certified technicians.