Automotive Maintenance

Auto repair customer skepticism is widespread

Mechanic under car

You know that sinking feeling when your car’s dashboard lights up, telling you it’s time to see a mechanic?

If you instantly worry you may be scammed or pressured into paying for extra repairs that you don’t need, you’re not alone, a new AAA survey shows.

Distrust in industry

2 out of 3 U.S. drivers do not trust auto repair shops in general. The top reason consumers said they struggle with the industry is because repair shops tend to recommend unnecessary services: 76% of those surveyed cited this as their biggest trepidation.

Other top reasons U.S. drivers said they do not trust repair shops included:

  • Overcharging for services (73%)
  • Negative past experiences (63%)
  • Concerns that the work will not be done correctly (49%)

Despite the distrust toward the automotive repair industry as a whole, 64% of drivers surveyed said they have found a service provider they trust.

Survey results

Established relationships

Finding at least 1 reliable vehicle repair shop can help alleviate stress when your dashboard lights come on. Moving forward, this kind of established relationship can become even more important. As modern cars collect vehicle data, a majority of drivers report wanting the ability to send their vehicle’s data directly to a repair shop of their choice. This kind of communication will become even more essential as “connected cars” and other automated technology move to the forefront.

There also appears to be a difference among generations when it comes to distrust of the automotive repair industry. Baby boomers are twice as likely as younger generations to fully trust auto repair facilities in general, with 1 in 5 reporting they “totally trust” the industry. A majority of baby boomers (76%) have a chosen auto repair shop that they trust, compared to only 55% of millennials and 56% of Gen-Xers.

AAR Infographic

An established relationship with a reliable mechanic grows more important as distrust of the industry is on the rise, based on generational perceptions. Here are a few suggestions to finding an automotive repair facility worthy of your business moving forward:

  • Research online. Pick a few mechanics you may be interested in and see what you can learn online. How long have they been in business? Often, a longstanding reputation is a sign of good business. How do they respond to complaints? In addition to sites like Yelp (which customers often use simply to vent frustrations), you can research the Better Business Bureau or your state's consumer protection agency.

  • Start with a minor job. Before you have to worry about an emergency, take your car to a shop for a relatively simple service like an oil change or tire rotation. Use the time your car is being worked on to talk with shop employees and inspect the business’ appearance, amenities, and credentials. The service you receive on a small task may indicate what you can expect down the road.

  • Use a AAA Approved Repair facility. Let AAA take the hassle out of the whole process for you with the AAA Approved Repair program. Approved facilities must meet specific certification, technical training, cleanliness, and insurance requirements. Once qualified, the shops are inspected annually to assure ongoing satisfaction. AAA members who use these facilities receive benefits including priority service, warranties, discounts, and AAA assistance with any disputes or unsatisfactory service. Learn more about the program or find a facility.

As technology in vehicles continues to advance, it will be more and more important for drivers—especially younger generations—to have an automotive repair facility they can trust.As this new AAA study shows, both the industry and consumers have a long way to go before that can be a reality. In the meantime, however, AAA aims to simplify the process with endorsed shops and helpful tips.

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