How to Pick an Auto Repair Shop

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Finding a good, reputable automotive maintenance or auto repair shop used to be a shot-in-the-dark proposition. That was before the Motorist Assurance Program (MAP) was formed. Now, consumers can tap into a list of more than 10,000 MAP participating shops around the U.S.


MAP was formed in June 1992 by a group of service providers, manufacturers, associations and others who were concerned about the reputation of the automotive repair industry. The organization works to strengthen communication and trust between the industry and its customers. MAP is improving the relationship between the motorist and the automotive service and repair industry through education of both the motorist and service provider, and through the creation of industry standards.

MAP has also established relationships with many consumer groups and regulatory agencies, including the American Association of Retired Persons, American Automobile Association, Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council, Car Care Council, Consumer Information Center, Council of Better Business Bureaus, National Association of Attorneys General, members of the National Association of Consumer
Agency Administrators, National Association of Consumer Protection Investigators and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

MAP realizes that most people like to take their car in for service and repairs about as much as they like getting a root canal! Often consumers feel uncertain, overwhelmed, and distrustful when they arrive at a shop. 

The reasons consumers dislike service facilities vary. Expected poor service, confusing explanations, inconsistent diagnoses of a problem from one shop to another, differing prices, general fear and distrust arising from ignorance of what the vehicle needs all of these problems and more can contribute to consumers' car-care wariness.

MAP is dedicated to helping the automotive service and repair industry communicate more effectively and consistently with consumers. Both the shop and the consumer will get off to a better start if they share a common road map to the customer's car, something each could follow to help prevent misunderstandings.

MAP-accredited auto shops use such a road map: the Uniform Inspection & Communication Standards developed over the past several years through MAP by the industry. The standards give the shop a customer communication/education tool to use before proceeding with any work. Service staff can review the industry standards with the consumer and give him or her a copy of the MAP-required written estimate, which explains in clear language what will be done to the vehicle and why.

All MAP-participating shops use the same guidelines and materials. This assures consumers they'll get consistent service and repair recommendations, based on the uniform industry standards, from any MAP-participating shop.

Locating Participating Auto Repair Shops

How can consumers locate MAP participating shops? The easiest route is via the Internet. MAP's web site is at http://www.motorist.org. Consumers without Internet access can either call MAP at 703-538-3557, or request a list of shops via the mail by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Motorist Assurance Program, 201 Park Washington Court, Falls Church, VA 22046.