Whether it’s for inspection, repairs, or just routine maintenance, car ownership almost always results in a trip to your local automotive service centre. To ensure you get the treatment you deserve, it is important to find a great car repair shop that will treat you fairly and always have your best interest at heart. 

Below, we cover how to find a reputable car repair shop in your area—one you can trust for all your service and repair needs. 

The Keys to Finding a Great Car Repair Shop

There are many telltale signs of a great car repair shop. Here, we'll highlight some of the ways you can find a stellar repair shop. 

Check the Online Reviews

Online reviews through Google or sites like Yelp are great ways to see just how good or bad an auto repair shop really is. It’s great to focus on the number of stars, and in particular to find shops with 4 or more stars out of 5. There is even more value, however, in the individual reviews themselves. 

Start by sorting reviews by the lowest rating. Read customer complaints and see if you spot a trend. Also, look for how quickly the shop responded to the reviews, how it responded, and whether or not it offered a solution to the issue. 

Keep in mind, however, that every shop is bound to have bad reviews—the key is how they respond. If the poor reviews are left without a response, that’s not a good sign. And it's even worse if the shop becomes defensive and attacks the customer. 

Check for Fair Prices

Car care centres are free to set prices as they see fit, and some may charge higher prices because they staff only the best technicians. However, all repair shops in a geographic area should be close in pricing. 

After you’ve created a shortlist of potential auto repair shops by their online reviews, call 10 or so to find out their hourly labour rate. 

The labour rate in your area should be somewhere between $50 and $100 per hour, but your goal here is to make sure the shortlisted shops are within 10% of the average labour pricing in your area. 

Test Shop Each Repair Facility

A great way to get a feel for how auto repair shops will treat you in person is to shop them via phone. Call the shops on your shortlist to get information on a maintenance service that’s due on your vehicle, such as an oil change, radiator flush, tune-up, or tire service. 

Note the salesperson’s demeanour and willingness to give you the information you need when on the phone. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the service, such as how long it’ll take and potential extra costs. 

At a good repair shop, the salesperson will ideally be helpful, warm, and receptive to your questions. If the salesperson seems annoyed or too busy to field your questions, it’s likely not the right shop for you. 

Verify It’s a Full-Service Repair Shop

It's always great to have a one-stop shop that can do everything for you, including regular maintenance, repairs, tire changes, and more. That is why, during your call with the repair shop, it is important to verify that it is indeed a full-service repair facility. 

It’s not a deal-breaker, mind you, as there’s nothing wrong with going to multiple shops to service your vehicle’s diverse needs. But it can certainly be a tie-breaker, since it’s obviously more convenient to have a single place handle all of your car maintenance and repair requirements. 

Plus, that shop will slowly build a history with your vehicle and better understand its needs over time. 

Schedule a Test Service

At this point, you’ve likely narrowed your selection down to two or three shops in your area. Now it's time to test them in person to see if they deliver fair, honest, quality service. Call one shop to schedule your next routine maintenance item (e.g., an oil change). 

One benefit of scheduling an in-person test service is that it allows you to see how backed up the shop is. If they are weeks away from an opening for a simple oil change, this is likely not the shop for you. Second, it lets you find out just how thorough they are. 

Unless you own a new car, your oil change will likely come with a list of recommended or required services and repairs. If they recommend nothing, this should be a red flag indicating that they weren’t thorough. You should see a handful of items, including any necessary repairs, such as belts, hoses, wipers, wheel alignment, and air conditioning. They should also list recommended upcoming maintenance, like cooling system flushes and transmission services. 

At a good repair shop, the salesperson will sit with you and review the recommended and required services and explain what each of them is. They should never make you feel intimidated or scared to drive your vehicle. 

Ideally, the car repair shop should offer to make those additional repairs today or at least to schedule an appointment for future repairs without becoming pushy. This is a sign of a great automotive repair facility. 

Perform this test with each of your shortlisted repair facilities and eliminate any that make you feel uncomfortable. 

Compare Other Automotive Services They Offer

After finding several reputable and honest repair shops, the final tie-breaking item will be the additional services they offer. The more services they offer, the more convenient they become down the line when you really need them for something. Here are a few services to call and ask about: 

  • Free diagnostics: Almost every shop will charge upfront diagnostic fees for tough-to-find car problems. However, it's best practice to credit this fee back toward the repair. Call each shop and verify that they offer this with their services.
  • Towing: Call each shop and ask if they offer towing services. Many shops will work with third-party tow companies to bring your car in if it's not running. You may also ask if towing is free with the repair.
  • Roadside assistance: While not as popular as it once was, some shops may still offer roadside assistance. So, if you're stuck on the side of the road with a dead car battery, broken belt, or blown hose, the shop can dispatch a technician to your location to complete the repair on-site. 
  • Pick-up and drop-off service: If your car will be in the shop for a while, or if the shop is just too busy, some car repair facilities will offer to drop you back off at your home and pick you up when the car is finished. This service can help you save big on taxi or ride-sharing fees. 
  • Warranty: Finally, any repairs completed at a legitimate auto service centre should include at least a 90-day warranty. Check with your shortlisted repair facilities to find out which one offers the most comprehensive warranty.

Get a Quality Pre-Owned Vehicle at Clutch

At Clutch, Canada’s largest online used automotive retailer, our vehicles undergo a 210-point inspection and reconditioning process to ensure you won't need a repair shop for a while. To back this up, we also include a 90-day or 6,000-km warranty. 

Regardless of the condition of your vehicle, however, it's still important to find a great auto service centrer to keep your Clutch vehicle's maintenance up to date. 

At Clutch, our online experience allows you to skip the stress of a car dealership and complete your car purchase online. We then deliver the vehicle straight to your door. 

We’re proud to offer a 10-day or 750-km test-own period. This means that if you don't love your Clutch vehicle during this period, simply return it for a full refund or apply its value towards another car. No questions asked.

We also handle auto financing and accept trade-ins

View our vast inventory of quality pre-owned vehicles today and choose the one that suits your needs.