BOISE – April is Car Care Month, a timely reminder from AAA to catch up on routine maintenance and repairs that may have been neglected during the pandemic.
“With an average age of 11.6 years, the American automobile fleet is the oldest it’s ever been, and just like going to the dentist, sometimes preventative care gets put off,” says Matthew Conde, public affairs director for AAA Idaho. “When engine components and other vital systems fail, a family road trip can quickly turn from a joyful occasion into a major headache.”
In a new study, AAA asked consumers what they look for in a repair shop. For the majority of people, it comes down to the 3 C’s – confidence (89%), cost (83%), and convenience (78%). Interestingly, just 35 percent of vehicle owners said that coupons were important when selecting a repair facility, suggesting that consumers prefer clear and consistent value over short-term deals.
AAA has also learned that when it comes to selecting a repair shop, online reviews (4%), internet searches (6%) and advertising (3%) rank very low on the list. Most Americans rely on the recommendations of family and friends (38%), and about one-third (35%) of vehicle owners take their car to the place where it was purchased.
When it’s time for a tune-up, consumers have three choices:
Dealerships. Pros: They are very familiar with the vehicles they sell and have factory-trained technicians. Cons: The limited number of dealers means that a vehicle owner may have to drive farther for a repair.
Independent repair shops. Pros: May be less expensive than dealerships and tend to have higher overall satisfaction ratings. Easier to develop a relationship with the shop owner and mechanics. Cons: Independent shops may vary widely in quality and cost.
Specialists. Pros: Narrow focus can create specialized expertise. Cons: services may be limited, with fewer locations.
What to know when selecting a repair shop
- Sweat the small stuff. A small leak, rough starting, or similar issue should be addressed quickly to prevent a bigger repair bill later.
- Ask around. Ask friends and family members about the shop. Was the work completed on time and at the agreed-upon price? Were the employees friendly and informative?
- Give the shop an “audition”. Have the repair shop tackle a small job first, like an oil change or tire rotation, before taking on a bigger repair.
- Go with a pro. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops are regularly inspected to make sure they meet high standards of service and quality. For more information, visit com/autorepair.
“COVID-19 conditions and travel restrictions may fluctuate quite a bit this year, but whether you’re taking a long vacation or simply heading out into the backcountry, road trips are definitely going to figure into most of our travel plans this year, so we need to keep up on routine maintenance,” Conde said. “Idahoans need vehicles that can work and play as hard as they do.”