Automotive Services - How do I choose a reputable Service Provider?

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For most South Africans a motor vehicle is so much more than a status symbol or a convenient way to get from point A to point B. A lack of reliable public transport in most parts of the country has forced nearly all South Africans to acquire motor vehicles, and with motor vehicles comes the need for reliable automotive services.

An automotive service provider inspects, maintains and repairs cars and light trucks. In the United States of America, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certifies professionals and shops in the automotive repair and service industry. However, lacking a similar certification body in South Africa, most South Africans rely on recommendations from friends or car dealerships when it comes to choosing automotive services.

The Automobile Association (AA) could provide valuable insight in this regard. The AA has been operating in South Africa since 1930. It is a non-profit organisation and its services include roadside assistance, technical and motor-related legal advice.

Its Quality Assured accreditation programme (AAQA) identifies prospective partners across a wide spectrum of automotive services, including auto body repairs, vehicle maintenance and repair centres, auto electricians, locksmiths, accessory fitment centres and specialist repair centres. They not only check to ensure that the facilities and services of these service providers comply with the AA’s stringent quality assurance requirements, but also that they will deliver on the expected service to ensure customer satisfaction. It would be wise therefore to check whether your chosen automotive services partner is accredited with the AA.

Consumers should also be aware of scare tactics. The number one tip on the Reader’s Digest’s list of 29 tips from mechanics and car experts is to always get a second opinion when a mechanic claims that substantial work needs to be done. It’s also wise to ask for old parts back, to ensure that they have in fact been changed and that they were worn out.

Finally, there is something to be said for a good old gut feeling. If your gut is telling you to go somewhere else, listen to it. Automotive services hardly ever comes cheap; make sure that you get the best you can possibly afford.

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