How to choose a transmission repair shop
Having a transmission shop that you can trust and refer to at any point - for maintenance or for a serious repair - is very advantageous and stress-saving. Below we prove several pieces of advice on how to select a shop you can count on.
Tip 1: Find a transmission mechanic before you start experiencing serious transmission issues
You don’t need to wait until your automatic transmission seriously breaks down to start looking for a qualified transmission repair professional. You may start by visiting a reliable transmission shop to have your vehicle examined. Check out the level of expertise and type of attitude that the specialists of this shop provide. When you opt for an expert repair service which is shown in the way the shop presents itself and how they handle any sort of inquiry, you can make sure that you will be getting high-quality work and a lasting result.
Tip 2: Get an estimate
Unless you find yourself in a hurry to get your vehicle repaired it will be very opportune to request an estimate, in writing, from any transmission mechanic prior to committing to any labor. A general price estimation before performing any thorough in-depth diagnostics, which is time-consuming and may involve removal of your transmission off the vehicle, will give you an understanding if this is a reputable shop where you want to have the repairs completed. It is highly likely that an experienced transmission shop should diagnose the problem early on. All of this will help you understand what the expected cost for total repairs will be.
By having an estimate in writing you protect yourself against some unexpected additional costs, revealed when the repair procedure is completed. Basically, it is not legal for a transmission shop to overcharge above a pre-quoted estimate unless you agree for this rise. Having proof of a prior agreement serves as a good protection from spending more than you agreed upon.
When it comes to comparing various estimates on transmission repair cost, keep in mind that differences in price quotes often are due to multiple factors:
- level of technician expertise,
- quality of parts,
- inclusion of additional parts and services,
- provision of warranties.
The lowest cost is not necessarily the best option. Remember to clarify those factors to ensure that you are receiving a high-quality repair that will last above the warranty term.
Tip 3: Ask around
Your friends, relatives, colleagues with huge driving experience and, ideally, familiar people from the automotive repair business shall give good recommendations. If you will be talking to your friend who’s a valve body repair specialist, ask who they’d refer to for transmission repair. They shall easily address you to a fellow professional from the industry they work in.
Tip 4: Look for a transmission service and repair shop with membership in associations and with skilled mechanics in the team
Actually, there is no legal certification obligation for a person who took up working as a mechanic. Therefore, finding someone specialist who took the effort to confirm their level of expertise is truly a smart move, which guarantees choosing real professionals. Having achieved various certifications does not mean doubled costs just for the sake of getting more profit. Regularly, a true transmission specialist with confirmed skills will do a professional job at a fair price simply because that is their prime business.
When it comes to choosing a mechanic, it is recommended to confirm that they have certification by the ASE National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. If they are not displayed in the shop's office, you shall ask to look for the ASE Blue Seal of Automotive Excellence and, what will be useful, ask to see technician certifications if they are ASE Certified Transmission Repair Mechanics.
Another association with wide recognition is ATRA (Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association). It is a nation-wide entity that tests transmission specialists, organizes tech seminars, and verifies that its members abide by the code of ethics. It is quite a task to obtain this certification and the mechanic will have to pass a series of specialized tests related to transmission maintenance and repair. Another advantage provided by ATRA is offering a nationwide warranty for transmission repairs..
Tip 5: Look for the promo, coupons, discounts, and free services
Many serious transmission repair and service shops organize certain discounts and promos in order to make their business stand out. Such an offer may save you 10-20% and it is a huge saving if you are in for a thorough transmission repair. Such options can be found in your newspapers or by checking websites. Some shops make special conditions for seniors and military people. To make transmission services more economic for them.
Oftentimes, you can get the inspection, test-drive, estimation, diagnostic procedures with no charge at all. That is depending on the internal customer service policies used within this shop.
Tip 6: Check shop’s reviews and recommendations and number of years in the industry
A little research always pays out. Especially, when you are choosing who to trust with your vehicle's transmission repairs. Some sources advise checking the business's BBB (Better Business Bureau) rating. That will tell you if there were any complaints and how they were resolved. We wouldn’t go this far as to BBB but Google reviews, Facebook, some discussion boards, Repair Pal and Yelp give a good picture on what the shop is capable of in terms of their integrity, customer service, and ethical business practices.
Multiple negative reviews are a definite sign you shall not work with this shop. Overwhelming number of positive reviews among a few negative usually indicate that the shop has done huge work to inspire some of their clients to spend time and effort and share that positive experience with others.
Note: not all warranties issued by transmission shops are the same so we advise to select a business with a serious track record, positive customer reviews, and inclusion of coverage for all parts, labor expense and towing in case the warranty term doesn’t last.
Tip 7: Note signs of high quality, professional auto repair shops
- Garage and office areas that are tidy and well-organized are typically signs that the specialists here care for their surroundings and they are very likely to deliver the same quality attitude to their clients.
- Modern equipment and tools are not for a show and cost serious investments. This is a sign that a shop is highly motivated to deliver quality of repairs and diagnostic services. In fact, lack of proper equipment often means that the repairs may not be completed properly, or on time. Advanced diagnostic equipment (like valve body testing machines) greatly reduces chances of a misdiagnosis which saves clients’ time and money.
- Knowledgeable mechanics are confident and perform operations in a friendly way. A good transmission technician should suggest a range of potential problems and recommend best repair options based on your symptoms, as well as evaluate the overall condition of your vehicle and clarify your concerns.
How not to be ripped off and avoid scams at transmission repair services
- Forget about estimates made over the phone. It is virtually impossible to make a quote for transmission repairs without seeing a unit which will be repaired. Just be totally wary if a transmission shop offers estimations without a visual inspection.
- Do thorough searches online. Nowadays, Internet reviews, feedback posts, interest groups, and forums provide plenty of information to consider and, thus, track reputation, quality of service, level of customer care, fairness of prices on almost any type of business and transmission repair shop business is covered seriously in this. So spend your time online in order to send your funds on transmission repairs in a good manner.
- Evaluate the visual presentation of the repair shop. An impression that you receive is a good marker of whether this business shall be trusted or not. Tidiness, attitude and level of professionalism - all give you an understanding whether you can count on these mechanics or not. Also, it is recommended to check if a transmission ship has memberships in professional associations - such as ATRA (Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association), ATSG (Automatic Transmission Service Group), ASA (Automotive Service Association) - which all contribute to better education of their members and their grade of competence.
- Don’t fall for lowest prices. It is important to ask yourself whether you want to achieve true quality and whether you want your vehicle to last and endure. If it is in fact so, remember that a professional transmission repair shop typically has higher prices for a reason. Especially, if you want your car to be protected by a solid warranty. It is simple highly-skilled mechanics with practical experience will deliver top-quality repair services, which is reasonably costlier.
- Get references. Mere asking around and talking to your friends, relatives and fellow transmission repair people will certainly give you a clear understanding on where to get great quality/price ratio.
- Attend the diagnostics process. If you can be present at the check up, you will see the mechanics’ attitude and also, importantly, scanner reading for error codes.
- Read the results of computer diagnostics. Those error codes that will be revealed during scanning will give you a clear understanding of what is failing in your vehicle and, thus, you will be better prepared to pay for that. If you are not sure about average prices related to these error codes, you can consult with mechanics from other transmission repair shops and get a complete picture of the required repair measures and their prices.
- Remember to take note of the odometer reading, if you decide to leave the car at the shop. Sometimes staff of repair shops exploit their privilege and drive clients' cars for personal objectives, not related to the repair process itself.
- Ensure dismantling of your automatic gearbox in the repair process. It is really next to impossible to do a transmission repair if your automatic gearbox is not dismantled. Therefore, watch the state of fastening elements of your gearbox. It is advisable to present the process of pan removal.
- After inspection of your car is completed, carefully read the written estimate document. Once the diagnostics test is done, the shop technician should know quite clearly the failure causes in your car. A written estimate precisely identifies those issues and the repair cost. It is highly advised that you get this document and read it carefully before signing. This is quite a standard practice for reliable transmission repair shops. Thus, a complete range of provided services will be given out to you. Covering it from diagnostics to the repair.
- Beware of promises to bring your vehicle back on the road in just 1 day. Gearbox repair is a complex and time-consuming process, it is very seldom that such a procedure is completed in a very quick way. Be prepared to wait and spend at least a couple of days without your car.
- If you really target to save money, consider buying a remanufactured gearbox yourself. If you understand that the transmission replacement cannot be refuted, check prices for reman transmissions. If you come across a good option, buy only from reliable suppliers. In this scenario, you only pay a local transmission shop for the installation labor. In such a situation, you avoid paying surcharge if this shop buys a gearbox for you.
- If you have suspicions after the transmission repair has been done, visit some other repair service shop to have your car lifted and transmission inspected. An unbiased specialist will be able to see it straightaway if your gearbox was properly dismantled or not.
- Remember to verify if your warranty is still valid. If your vehicle is still new or has run a low mileage, before going to a transmission shop you are to check your powertrain warranty and see if it covers your transmission’s issue.
Typical transmission repair scams
Lowballing. This samming method lies in a very plain tactics of attracting customers with very low prices or massive discounts. To avoid biting on this track time it takes the shop's mechanic to estimate the time needed to do your car’s transmission repair and the cost of it. Proper diagnostics of transmission issues are not quick and may take several hours. You should also be skeptical about bottom prices. These often grow considerably after disassembly of your transmission is done.
Fake rebuilds. Some indecent transmission service technicians may claim that your transmission is in poor state while in fact it only needs adjustment of your shift linkage. Such frauds turn a $100 job into a $1000 ‘operation’. They may even avoid removal of your gearbox off the vehicle and simply will keep it in their shop for a lengthy period to make an impression of serious services being performed. There were cases when dishonest technicians used the following pretext for a costly repair: they would put some metal chips on the pan when doing an ATF change treatment.
No quote without car disassembly. If a transmission mechanic tells you that he cannot give an accurate price for services if your car is not disassembled, be cautious: once the car is disassembled, you become quite dependent on the situation, as transferring a car in such a state is very problematic and also risky. Just ask for a worst-case and best-case price tags so you can know what to expect before any serious moves.
Online fraud is as popular these days as ever. Fraud artists are taking advantage of customers who want to be tight with money by buying a transmission or spare parts on the Internet—especially refurbished transmissions. Undoubtedly, online commerce is very efficient and there is a huge number of trustworthy online transmission suppliers. However, be watchful of those offers when high-quality rebuilt or remanufactured transmissions are put on auctions for suspiciously low prices. It can turn out that way that you end up with a used transmission that had not been rebuilt but simply cleaned. If you are offered a short-timed warranty for the services, it is the first sign that such fraud takes place.
Transmission flushing is not always needed. Some shops may advise that a transmission flushing is needed 100% and it will give your transmission back its ideal operating condition. Primarily, many carmakers advise to be considerate and refute too persistent claims to have flushing for no obvious reason. It is vital to know that some warranties on your transmission will be cancelled, if you get a flush performed against the manufacturer's guidelines.
Quality of purchased new transmission warranty. There are many warranty options on the market but not all of them are fully reliable. Remember to thoroughly read warranty conditions before signing up for anything. Oftentimes, the verbal promises by the sellers are not as good as the written automatic transmission warranty.
Before buying the warranty, visit a local transmission repair shop and ask if they would repair your car under the warranty that you are considering. If the shop refuses, you have grounds to change your opinion and buy another type of warranty, from another provider.
Shop does not repair automatic transmissions. Oftentimes, auto repair shops service various parts of vehicles but not automatic transmission themselves. If you opt to work with them, you will end up overpaying for having your transmission taken off the vehicle and then driven to a transmission repair station. You can easily do it on your own and avoid paying extra for almost nothing.