How To Choose An Auto Shop To Repair Your Foreign Vehicle

While it's usually easy to find a reliable mechanic to service a domestic-made vehicle, finding someone who knows how to fix your foreign vehicle can be a bit more challenging. Dealerships that sell that brand of vehicle aren't always nearby, and local mechanics don't necessarily have the knowledge or equipment to do the job.

Following are some tips to help you decide whether the mechanics at an auto repair shop are qualified to work on your foreign vehicle.

  1. Specialty Auto Repair. Take your vehicle to a specialized auto shop. Like shops that service domestic vehicles, many shops that service foreign vehicles specialize in working on specific makes of vehicles. The mechanics at specialized shops often invest more time and effort in learning about certain auto makers and what they offer in vehicle brands and parts.

  2. Certification. Ask whether the shop's automotive technicians and mechanics are ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) certified. Certification shows that the mechanics have the skill and relevant work experience necessary to do the job.

    To be certified, mechanics must pass a series of tests designed to prove their knowledge and training in auto repair. Find out if a shop's mechanics are licensed by the state as well. ASE certification is a voluntary certification, and doesn't automatically qualify you as a certified mechanic in some states.

  3. Specialized Training. Find out if the mechanic working on your vehicle has specialized training in servicing that particular make and model. Since not all mechanics are foreign car specialists, those with the latest training in repairing vehicles manufactured by specific automakers are more likely to have the expertise necessary to accurately diagnose what's wrong with your vehicle.

    A mechanic who was factory trained by your vehicle's automaker will have expert knowledge on what your particular make of vehicle needs. Although specialty mechanics often are employed at dealership service centers, some independent auto repair shops that service foreign cars have factory-trained mechanics on staff. Factory-trained auto technicians and mechanics are trained on the manufacturer's latest models, tools, and equipment.

    Some auto mechanics also complete apprenticeship programs where they have the opportunity to work on specific foreign vehicle models, such as Porsche or Mercedes-Benz. Generally, to receive apprenticeship certification in a specific foreign-car repair, a mechanic must have a specified number of years experience and pass a competency test for diagnosing and repairing that type of vehicle for multiple model years.

  4. Warranties. Inquire whether a shop offers warranties on both parts and labor. While auto parts warranties on mechanical and electrical components provide security that you are getting what you pay for, a warranty policy that includes labor helps assure that your vehicle will be fixed right. Find out what warranties apply before you sign the work order.

    Also, make certain that the shop uses brand-name parts made specifically for the type of vehicle you drive, particularly a foreign-made model. You want a part that you know is made to fit your vehicle.

    Although aftermarket auto parts as replacement parts are designed to do the same job as the originals, some are cheaper parts that aren't made from quality materials. These parts also may be sold without a warranty. Usually, manufacturer parts come with a warranty that covers the labor as well as the part.

Locating a foreign auto mechanic like CIM Motorsports is just the first step. Before your vehicle requires major repairs, take it into the shop for a checkup or routine maintenance to start. This gives you the opportunity to see how professional and knowledgeable the mechanics are and if they do quality work.