Look for specialized expertise.
Different types of cars call for different skill sets. “At a shop that specializes in hybrids or full electrics, you’ll find technicians with certificates that show they’ve had specialized training,” Mock says. “If a technician doesn't possess that certification, but offers the service, it means they’ve most likely figured things out on the fly.” What’s more, Mock points out, many of today’s sophisticated cars require advanced scanners and other expensive diagnostic equipment that not all shops possess. Paying for expertise can be worth the price.
Weigh the cost and benefits of second opinions.
You can spend a lot of time getting multiple estimates. You can also spend a fair amount of money. Whether it’s worth seeking a second—or third, or fourth—opinion depends on what you’re looking for. If you trust that you’ve been given an accurate diagnosis, there’s no harm calling around for other estimates. “Let’s say you know for certain that you need to have your radiator replaced,” Mock says. Pricing out the job at other shops will cost you nothing. If, on the other hand, you have doubts about the original diagnosis and want to have it double-checked, most shops will charge you for that service, usually around $150 per estimate, although the cost can vary. In Mock’s analysis, “a lot of it really comes down to whether you believe the technician or not.” At AAA shops, he notes, technicians take photographs and videos of the problems they encounter to give customers greater reassurance, enhancing an already trusted reputation.