All Things Automotive: Making car maintenance easy

Gerald Dong

In today’s world, we’re often overwhelmed by all the choices we face on a daily basis. One of the areas that can feel particularly overwhelming is deciding where to get your vehicle serviced. The last thing you want is to feel confused or cheated when you walk into a repair shop.

We spend hours in our cars every week and rely heavily on them to get us where we need to go, and now is a great time to get any maintenance done on your vehicle before winter sets in. So with hundreds of options around us, how do we choose which shop to trust? Or even know what to ask once we get there? That’s where AAA comes in. We’ve done the hard work of finding trustworthy repair shops, so you don’t have to!

For more than 30 years, AAA’s Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program has simplified the process of finding a place to maintain your vehicle. Our extensive network of more than 7,000 repair facilities nationwide, and more than 130 here in Colorado, provide exceptional service you can trust to do what’s right.

We regularly inspect each AAR facility to make sure they meet our stringent quality standards in the areas of: community reputation, facility appearance, customer service, staff qualifications and training, and tools and equipment.

Ask the right questions

If you are looking for a quality repair shop, here are some good questions to ask:

  • What training and certifications do their technicians have and are they current? Expired certifications may be a sign of lax training routines.
  • Is the technician working on your vehicle certified to do the work? Not every technician in a shop will be certified in every technical discipline.
  • How will they communicate with you—by phone, text, or even email?
  • How long will it take them to diagnose your vehicle and contact you with an estimate?
  • What will the estimate include, and will it specify the amount for parts, labor, fees, and tax?
  • What is their warranty and what does it cover? If you are going on a long trip, you might ask how they would handle the warranty if you needed repairs.
  • When you receive a diagnosis, ask if it will resolve the issue you brought the vehicle in for. Sometimes a diagnosis finds a condition that must be corrected prior to continuing/confirming the rest of the repair.

Other things to know

It’s common practice for repair shops to provide you with a list of other repairs or maintenance that your vehicle may need soon (or even now). This is typically done to advise you of any potential dangers and/or to prevent more-costly repairs later. Just ask how urgent each item is, and then decide. You can always ask for pictures for your records.

To find your nearest Approved Auto Repair facility, visit

Exclusive Member Benefits

  • Fair pricing You will be provided with easy-to-understand, written estimates for all work, and your final bill will not exceed the estimate by more than 10 percent  without your approval.
  • Quality of work guaranteed All the repairs performed on your vehicle are guaranteed for at least 24 months/24,000 miles, whichever comes first.
  • Priority service If you have your vehicle towed into one of our AAR facilities from a AAA roadside event, you will be notified within 60 minutes of arrival to discuss your vehicle’s needs and provided with an estimate of the work.
  • Discounted labor AAA members receive a minimum of 10 percent off labor costs (up to $50).
  • Advocate on your behalf If you ever have an issue with an AAR shop, we will investigate your issue and work with the facility to quickly come to an appropriate resolution.

Gerald Dong is the director of automotive repair programs for AAA Colorado.