College Students: Don't Forget About Auto Maintenance

College bound? Here is one more item to add to your checklist before heading off to campus this fall: a vehicle checkup.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) recommends that you make sure your vehicle is in good working condition. Unless you are a dedicated do-it-yourselfer, you'll want to find a reputable shop to take care of maintenance and service for you.

ASE, a nonprofit organization that tests and certifies automotive technicians, offers the following tips on choosing a repair facility.

* Start shopping for a repair facility before you need one.

* Ask your friends and associates for their recommendations or consult local consumer groups.

* Arrange for transportation in advance so you will not feel forced to choose a shop based on its location.

* Look for a neat, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service areas.

* Look for a courteous staff, with a service consultant willing to answer all of your questions.

* Check the shop's policies regarding estimated repair costs, diagnostic fees, guarantees and acceptable methods of payment.

* Ask if the repair facility specializes or if it usually handles your type of repair work.

* Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area, such as civic, community or customer service awards.

* Look for evidence of qualified technicians, such as trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced course work and certification by ASE.

* Look for the ASE sign. ASE-certified technicians wear blue-and-white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of certification. Their employers often display the ASE sign.

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