If you don't know much about the workings of your vehicle, you'll need to know how to locate a qualified mechanic when problems occur. If the car is still under warranty, you may be required to have the repairs done at a factory-authorized or franchised dealership. If it's not, or if you'd prefer an independent repair shop or individual, ask friends and family for recommendations. You may want to check with your local Better Business Bureau about the shop or individual's reliability. Some shops display certifications, such as the Automotive Service Excellence seal. ASE (A-S-E) certification indicates that some, or all, of the technicians have met basic standards of knowledge and competence in specific technical areas. Make sure the certification is current, but keep in mind that certification alone doesn't guarantee good or honest work. If major repairs are required, you may want to find a dealer or repair shop that specializes in the specific type of repair. If you're not sure what the problem is, let the shop diagnose it. If you request a specific repair, it may end up being more costly if it turns out not to solve the problem. Always obtain an estimate for parts and labor, and make sure the estimate states that the shop will notify you before performing any work that exceeds a specified amount of time or money. When you pick up the car, ask for an explanation of all work completed and all replacements made. If the shop guarantees its work, get it in writing, and make sure you know how long the repairs are warrantied for, both parts and labor. Be sure your bill is itemized, so if there's a problem later, you can prove that the item in question is covered by the guarantee.
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