The average age of a personal vehicle on the road today is more than 11 years, according to recent news reports. In tough economic times, it’s natural to rein in spending. But the experts at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) warn that putting off routine auto maintenance or ignoring service intervals is false economy. Small issues can morph into more expensive repairs. For example, failure to replace worn brake pads or a faulty oxygen sensor — both relatively easy services for qualified auto technicians — can result in expensive brake rotor service or costly replacement of the vehicle’s catalytic converter. Frequently neglected items include oil changes, tire and brake service, wheel alignment, air and fuel filters, and transmission service, according to ASE-certified auto technicians.
Besides, a well-maintained vehicle gets better gasoline mileage, pollutes less, is safer to operate, and lasts longer than one that’s neglected, notes ASE. To help consumers choose a repair shop that fits their needs, ASE offers the following checklist: * Look for a neat, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays.
* Look for a courteous staff, with a service consultant willing to answer all of your questions. * Look for policies regarding estimated repair costs, diagnostic fees, guarantees, and acceptable methods of payment.
* Ask if the repair facility specializes or if it usually handles your type of repair work. * Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area, such as civic, community, or customer service awards.
* Look for evidence of qualified technicians: trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced course work, and certification by ASE.
* Look for the ASE sign or logo; it means the shop employs nationally certified technicians.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) was founded in 1972 as a non-profit, independent organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive technicians. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of certification. Their employers often display the blue and white ASE sign. Visit www.ase.com for seasonal car care advice and more.