What does your lawyer, real estate agent, doctor, exterminator, plumber, electrician, barber, hairdresser, and manicurist have that your local auto mechanic, or factory dealership service technician does not have?
All the listed professions have minimum established criterion for education and training and a formal process for recognition before they can practice their trade. There are no standards enforced for auto repair.
Before an exterminator can open shop he must pass a test of competency, get a license and provide proof of insurance to protect his clients from damage caused by his workmanship or product liability. You, yes you, could open an auto repair shop tomorrow, with no insurance, no license and no proof that you are suitably qualified to even change the oil in a car.
Lawyers, doctors, exterminators and real estate agents are required to attend annual ongoing education to stay current and proficient in their craft. There are no education or continuing education requirements for an auto technician.
What this mean to you is that when you are seeking out a repair shop it is really a “buyer beware” situation. The average person has very little means of telling the truly qualified shops from the “other” ones. The best indication of a shop’s qualification that I know of is the AAA Approval.
When AAA considers a shop for approval it requires that the shop have technicians that are certified by ASE (National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence) in each area that they offer service. It requires the shop to provide proof of garage keepers liability insurance. It also inspects the shop’s equipment to insure that they have the right tools, in working order, to do the jobs they claim to do. Finally AAA gets 200 recent, consecutively numbered repair invoices and calls the clients to confirm that the shop does a good job. This inspection and customer survey is repeated annually.
The automotive repair industry, both on the independent and dealership level, has resisted licensing and government oversight. This is part of the reason for the poor public image that we suffer. Until the industry as a whole becomes professional enough to endorse licensing you, the motorist, can help raise the standard by insisting on a AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility.
This will help to insure that you are at a qualified repair shop and send a message to the repair industry that you expect a high standard from the people servicing your car.
To find a AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility near you go to www.aaa-texas.org