TIP #2: LOOK FOR CARS IN THE LOT
Cars in the lot is a good thing. Junky cars in the lot? Not such a good thing. “Shops with cars or lawn mowers or bikes for sale can be a sign of many things,” adds Miller. “It’s a great selling point for a client to have a reputable shop that can attest to the service and maintenance history of that vehicle.”
If a car is sitting on their lot collecting dust and rust for months, it can spark a couple of questions: "Is the shop unable to fix them? Do they not care about the appearance?" asks Docimo.
A steadily-rotating crop of cars in decent/good condition suggests that the shop runs smoothly, and maintains a consistent customer base.
TIP #3: REQUEST TO SEE THE ITEMIZED ESTIMATE OR BILL
The same way you'd request an itemized bill at a diner to ensure you're not being overcharged for extra bacon, do the same at the auto repair shop. (And if you're charged for extra bacon along with your oil change, call a lawyer.) It demonstrates transparency and offers you an idea of what the hell is making your car run so shitty. Plus, an itemized list can easily be cross-referenced or compared by a second opinion. "Almost every estimate I give to a customer has every part or labor charge itemized," Docimo says. "That’s done to avoid discrepancies, and to make sure the customer is comfortable with the job. I want my customer to know exactly how much they're paying, and for what – even if it's a two dollar hose clamp.”