3-On Your Side: Best And Worst Auto Repair Shops

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Do you wonder if you’re being taken for a ride every time you have your car serviced by a mechanic? After all, it’s not always easy determine the best auto repair shops from the worst. So 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan teamed up with the researchers at Consumers’ Checkbook Magazine so you can find quality help for under your hood.

When it comes to auto repairs, most mechanics aren’t created equal. “We rated 451 shops at Checkbook.org and found dramatic differences in these shops in terms of how good a job they do on these people’s cars,” says Robert Krughoff, President of Delaware Valley Consumers’ Checkbook, a nonprofit magazine dedicated to helping consumers find high quality, reasonably priced services.

Recently Consumers’ Checkbook asked their subscribers to evaluate their local auto repair shops. Among the questions asked of them says Krughoff, “Did they get it right on the first try so that the car was working right as soon as you got it back? Did they let you know what the cost would be in advance? Did they tell you what your options are?

Common complaints about auto mechanics include incorrect estimates, work not being done right, and shops performing unauthorized work. Checkbook also compared prices for some common repairs and found they could vary widely. For example the cost to replace the front brake pads and rotors on a 2004 Dodge Stratus ranged from $252 to $610.

Krughoff says, “It is strikingly true in the auto repair field that price has nothing to do with the quality of work to be done.” About ten percent of the shops surveyed received top ratings for quality and price. “Checkbook found and has consistently found that independent repair shops score better than dealers in terms of doing the job properly,” says Krughoff.

“We are confident in our pricing and our repair abilities, says Scott McKittrick. He’s the owner and operator of Bob Adams Auto Service in Lansdale, a shop that received Checkbooks’ top rating for quality and price. “We’re an old-style neighborhood shop, we have upgraded and updated obviously but we’re still part of the neighborhood and the community,” says McKittrick.

Checkbook suggests that you speak directly to the repair technician who will be working on your car and that you get either a written estimate in advance or write on the repair ticket that no work is to be done without your approval.

If you’ve been looking for a quality auto mechanic in your neighborhood and haven’t been successful, or if you want to see how your auto repair shop scored, 3 On Your Side wants to help.

CBS 3 viewers will have exclusive FREE access to look at the full results of Checkbook’s survey online, that’s 451 auto repairs shops, organized by county, up until Sunday, November 27.

 Just visit this link: http://www.checkbook.org/cbs3/autorepair/ and click “Go to Ratings of 451 Delaware Valley Area Auto Repair Shops”

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3

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  • Elen Evans

    Please pass on to checkbook.com that they need to review Delaware Valley Transmission located on Haddon Avenue in Collingswood, NJ. It took 4 times for them to fix my daughters transmission. This is the second timesheI went their because my regular mechanic Fanelli’s in Collingswood, NJ said the first time was probably a isolated incident. NOT! Please help others from bad transmission repairs. Thank you

    • jimdonovancbs3

      Elen – Checkbooks survey is based on its subscriber reviews. If the transmission shop that you mentioned wasn’t on the list that means that they didn’t have enough feedback from subscribers to include it. I believe they need a minimum of 10 customers to offer feedback in order to add it to the survey. Jim D.

  • Jack

    Had to give checkbook my email address to see report then it would only give me the first 100 not the entire report. Now, they have my email address which will onlyh add to my spam after they sell my address. I value your reports Jim, but nthere’s always a catch whether you know it or not.

    • jimdonovancbs3

      Jack – You didn’t have to give your email address to see the report and survey. That was optional. In addition, the entire report and full list of shops were visable via the link, I just checked it. Finally, Checkbook doesn’t sell your e-mail address. Regards, Jim D.

  • Dave

    Hey Jim,I thought you might have included us in this issue.You have been to my shop for a Lemon Law issue on flood cars.We have very good reviews.Maybe next time?

  • Ray

    This is a bad story. The example they give for a brake job $252 – $610, they make you think you are getting ripped off or over charged. A brake job may require replacement of Rotor’s, Caliper’s, Brake Hose’s Or even more hard wear. Flushing of Fluid Or Turning of Rotors. All can add to a cost of a Brake Job. They should have used an example that does not have so many variables as a Brake Job.
    And they should have included why the cost can vary as much as their example.

    • jimdonovancbs3

      Ray – the example we gave is one of 8 used by Checkbook to determine price. Click on the link in the story to see the other examples. Due to time constraints we can’t elaborate in these stories like we’d like to. That is why we post all of the additional information online. I can assure you that the research was comprehensive when it came to the price checking. Jim Donovan.

    • Nostromo

      So true. I’d read something, over a decade ago, pertaining to flushing the brake lines as being very important to the continued functioning of the Anti-Lock feature. This has stuck with me since then and I have the lines flushed every two years as a precaution and on general principles. Brake fluid tends to absorb moisture over time and I do notice a firmer feel to the pedal after the ‘transfusion’.

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