No matter what kind of car you drive, chances are, you will eventually need to have it repaired. Some cars are a little more difficult to repair, due to the complexity and the equipment needed to properly service them. Unfortunately, not all repair shops are created equal. It used to be, most garages could perform most repairs, on most cars. Now that electronics are found on almost every square inch of the car, only the shops that specialize in particular brands can truly offer the same level of expertise as the dealer.
Finding the right shop for you and your car is important, not only for your regular service intervals, but also to have a trusted place to go, should an actual problem arise. Having an established relationship with a shop can help facilitate the repair process and put your mind at ease. Returning to the same shop for repair, that also services your vehicle, means the techs are familiar with your car and usually know your wants and expectations.
So where do you find such a shop, that’s local to you? There are many locator services on the internet, that can help you find those “specialty” shops you seek. Here are a few that I know of:
1) Extremewrench.com You can search for shops in general in a given zip code or you can narrow it down by vehicle brand, such as BMW or Mercedes. This site gives ratings, lets you see what conveniences they offer was well as any affiliations (like BIMRS, a trusted BMW community).
2)Saabshops.com A listing of Saab specialty shops by state.
3)Bimmershops.com A listing of BMW shops by state.
4)FourRingsRepair.com This is a listing of independent Audi repair shops by state.
5)Lexusshops.com This is a listing of independent Lexus repair shops.
These are just a few, you can typically GOOGLE keywords like “Mercedes shop locator” and similar sites will show up.
Once you find a shop near you, make sure you look at pictures. See what the shop looks like, what other kinds of cars they have there, read any reviews or comments and definitely, if they have a website, check it out! Here is an example of a BMW shop’s website: BMW Repair There are a few key things you will want to look for. First, looking through the pictures, are there other BMW’s in the shop? Just because somebody says they work on them, doesn’t mean they really do. Its good to see other cars like yours in the shop. Also, see if there is any mention of what kind of tools they use. For a BMW, either a GT1, ISTA or Autologic is a must. If the shop doesn’t use one of these three, they are not fixing BMWs. Shops that don’t have the proper tooling usually do the “easy” and “money making” repairs and then refer you to the dealer for everything else. A properly equipped shop can handle all aspects of your repair, preventing you from having to make a trip to the dealer, which can cost you more money and eat up more of your time.