Shahe Koulloukian

Even if your vehicle isn’t equipped with Bluetooth, Wifi, and other high-tech accessories, it’s the biggest, most expensive gadget you own. And unless you trade your car in as often as your cell phone, keeping that ride in peak operating condition is vital to keeping repair costs down over its lifespan. We’re not saying that every repair will be expensive, but some unexpected repairs could potentially turn a $180.00 oil leak into a $1,800.00 leak in your checking account.

To make sure you’re spending only the necessary amounts on maintenance and repairs, you’ve got to find a shop that won’t rip you off. Unfortunately, that isn’t always simple; from shade-tree mechanics to nationally branded repair centers and dealerships, many shops can be downright unethical when it comes to billing. So how can you know whether you’re dealing with a business that’s honest (versus honestly rotten)? We asked Shahe Koulloukian, owner of Mazvo Auto Care Center, to give us the lowdown.

“Great service boils down to trust; there’s a lot to be said for knowing you’re not being taken advantage of,” Shahe says. “Even if you’re mechanically disinclined, you should always be able to rest assured that the problem will be fixed, and fairly- not just a scenario where you fork over $1000, a guy turns the thingamajig and tweaks the flippidy-wazoo, and your engine still makes that funny noise.”

If you’re not sure whether you’re being taken advantage of, Shahe suggests watching out for the following warning signs.

  1. Failure to listen. You drive your car every day, and are the best source of information when it comes to describing a problem – so it’s important that the repair shop listens to what you’re saying!
  2. Not being available. Sure, the shop is busy, but so are you. If a repair shop can’t give you the courtesy of promptly returning your call (or asking if they can call you back), it’s a sign that they’re either unorganized, or lacking the manpower to handle the workload.
  3. Underperforming. As a customer, you want three things: speed, quality, and trustworthiness. A good repair shop should at least provide two out of three.
  4. Assuming you know the lingo. The thingamajig and the muffler zipadeedoo needs replaced, but what does that mean? Breaking it down to explain how the failed part works is much more valuable than giving me names that sound straight out of Star Wars.
  5. Getting angry or impatient. Absolutely no excuse for that! You’re there for a reason; anger and impatience have no room in the conversation, even if you can’t understand what he is trying to sell you. When you ask questions, the truth always comes out.
  6. Lying. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many businesses overpromise and underdeliver. There is nothing worse than being told your car will be done today, only to find out that he meant “today next week.”
  7. Lack of manners. One of the worst things a repair shop can do is disrespect their clients because of gender, age, lack of auto repair knowledge … or anything else, for that matter! You deserve a respectful explanation of services that informs you not just for the problem at hand, but for the future.

Auto maintenance and repair may not be your favorite thing, but it’s much more tolerable when you’re confident that you’re using a reliable, trustworthy mechanic – which is why Shahe and the Mazvo Auto Care team are devoted to empowering their customers. It’s about solving, not selling. “We’ve spent multiple sessions investigating some annoying problem only to figure it out, recommend a thirty-dollar fix, and teach the customer how to do it themselves next time,” says Shahe. “For my customers, that kind of integrity is priceless.”

This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of Uptown Magazine