Navigating the Tricky Relationship Between Customers and Auto-Repair Shops

Navigating with a compassThe relationship between customers and those in the auto-repair industry has long been a tough one. Almost anyone in the car industry who has anything to do with selling or repairing cars often get a bad reputation for seemingly only looking to make more money. So, as customers, it can be hard to know who to trust and who to avoid.

Often times, choosing who you trust your vehicle with is like trying to decide on which doctor or dentist to go to: your having to trust someone who has more expertise and knowledge of your body (or in this case, your car) and it’s workings to make the right call and not take advantage of any lack of knowledge about a particular issue you may have.

So how can we make this relationship between customers and those in the auto-repair industry work? First, we must identify the problems that customers are seeing and complaining about, and find ways that these issues can be avoided and cleared up.

Consumer Reports did a study on the top complaints about auto-service. By looking at the two largest complaints, we can find solutions to create a more cohesive and trustworthy relationship between customers and their auto-service dealer.

The Number One Complaint: “Did not fix problem properly”

50% of those surveyed stated this as the main reason they switched to a different shop.

But this one’s completely on the auto-servicers, right?

Not necessarily.

There are some ways you can help your shop really understand your problem and therefore be able to make the correct repairs needed. The best ways to go about this is through communication. Just like when you go to the doctor, and you tell him all your aches and pains (often more than are probably necessary) it is up to the customer to give a full description of all the symptoms and when they happen.

And just like it makes your doctor’s job a bit easier when you can show them your rash or let them hear your cough, it can be easier for the mechanic to diagnose and fix a problem if he can hear or see it. So if you can demonstrate the problem, do so!

After you’ve fully communicated, then it is up to the shop to take into account the symptoms that are relevant to the real, underlying problem and find a way to fix it.

You may be a little wary about doing this because then you are opening up a whole bunch of problems that the shop may then want to “fix” for you. But this is where you really take the time to discuss all the possibilities, and make them explain to you what could be the problem, and what symptoms it will fix. Ask them if they think all the symptoms are the same problem, and make it clear what results you want from their work.

The Number Two Complaint: “prices are too high”

34% cited this as a reason they broke up with their repair shop. This goes along with the one above. If you’re very curious and show a great interest in what the mechanic is suggesting doing to your car, it will be hard for them to hide what exactly it is that is really needed, and what is more a suggestion. This can definitely save you money.

Plus, you wouldn’t take medicine from your doctor, if you didn’t know exactly what it was for would you? So don’t take a repair from your shop without knowing for sure what it is supposed to do for your car. And always get a price quote, this can really narrow down where you should be going to get your repairs done. And remember, you don’t have to stick with the first auto shop you find, just like you don’t typically find the right doctor right away!


Just like with any relationship, communication is the key to having a good and lasting relationship with an auto-service shop. Show a great interest in what is going on with your car, and it will be easier for you to really see who wants to building a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with you, and who is just looking to get the most money from you as possible. And just like with any relationship, don’t settle, because you and your car deserve the best!