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Recommendations for auto service center

First time poster here so I hope I am posting this in the correct forum.

I just need recommendations for an auto service center in the Freehold/Manalapan area in New Jersey. For years I have been going to the dealership here in town but they cost an arm and a leg even for the most basic services. I know nothing about cars so when the service advisor says I need to have this changed or this done, etc. I go along with it even though it’s probably unnecessary.

Can someone recommend a car service center in my area who is honest and do a good job? Any info would be so appreciated.

Go to this site’s Mechanic’s Files to find recommended repair places in your zipcode:

Thank you! I just went to the sire and saw a couple of places near me that I can check out. Reviews are good, too. Thanks again.

That site contains only those recommendations that were not negative. Any negative comments made about repair places are removed.

That is an understandable position for cartalk to adopt.

Just understand the data you’re reading. If a repair shop gets 5 negative reviews and one positive review, you will only see the one positive review.

I didn’t know that. How did you find that out?

Check out the BBB in your city. Ask other owners of your make for independent mechanic recommendations. Look for an Internet forum on your make and ask others for suggestions.

I learned that from various past discussions on this board about that referral area.

ATTN: Doug Mayer, Web Lackey! Any truth to this as reported by JoeMario? Seems misleading to say the least. Not that I don’t believe JoeMario but you must have more details.

Could shops with bad reviews sue CarTalk?

In addition to getting the reference from the mechanic finder I suggest you go to the shop with all your senses on high alert. I like to look if the shop is clean (I am looking to hire in not bring my car in, this is different by has enough in common to be useful).Clean shop, are the people friendly, do they use fear to sell, what was going on with other customers during your visit, is the shop AAA approved, do they display credentials of the employees,how about any notice if the shop sponsors a local childrens sports team? There are a lot of ways to evaluate a shop,include how the shop determins pricing and if they get annoyed with you when you ask questions.

Another source of info can be AAA. Members of AAA can get a list of “AAA Approved” shops sorted by zip code.

I am really hoping someone would verify whether the referral site only shows positive recommendations. It would be very helpful if we can also see the negative ones so we can steer clear of them. I agree with mleich that removing unflattering comments is misleading.
The site should protect customers and not the business owners.

Doug Mayer, Car Talk’s Web Lackey explains their position on this in his 2008 post:

Put it this way, if you ask a mechanic (or any business for that matter) for references, you will get only positive ones from him, naturally. He’s not about to give you one from a disgruntled customer. So, I guess you would have to regard this site as a tool with the same gravity you would a reference. It’s a starting point, it gets you to a mechanic who at least has SOME positive feedback, but it’s not a guarantee.

Thanks for the link, Joe. I suppose I’ll have to look for another site then.

This is why I suggest you us your own senses as the major data gathering tool. Use mechanics files,and recommendations from friends, realitives as merely supplemential information. Many people cannot tell a good from a bad mechanic, they simpy do not have the skills. Recommendations are simply just this ones persons view on how a repair went, nothing more. The person making the postive report could have been sold unnecessary work, but as long as a good sales "spiel"was put to use and the original symptons do not return the mechanic gets called “good”.

Yes, thanks to JoeMario.

Carlene, you might try “Angie’s List”–I have never used it but have heard lots of radio ads.

One way to gauge a place would be to just take your car in for an oil change.
Do they offer oil changes with some kind of additives thrown in regardless? Do they tell you you’ll need something else done(i.e. bring in a dirty air filter even though you asked just for an oil change), or do they take your keys, change the oil, and hand them back?

Could shops with bad reviews sue CarTalk?

Anyone can sue anyone…the question is could they WIN…And the answer is NO.

If they could then places like Tirerack where drivers post how well the tire preformed would be sued by the big tire companies that got bad reviews (which they do).

mleich, I checked out Angie’s List. You have to pay for membership. $6/month.

This must be an awfully stupid question but who would be the better place in this case?
I’m assuming it’s the one who takes your keys, and just changes the oil?