Different types of auto repair specialists and their classifications

Life exists outside of Authorized Service Centers, but it doesn’t end with your local FNG.

Greenhorn BHPian recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

This thread is for used car buyers, or those of you who are long-term car owners, with cars just out of warranty. You’ve come to realize that life exists outside of Authorized Service Centers, but doesn’t stop at your local FNG (Friendly Neighborhood Garage). Also, I’ve found that the specialists do a better job than the jack-of-all-trades shops (which are most likely going to outsource the work anyway. Of course, some shops will have a mix of different specializations depending on the staff, owner, etc.

Please note that the images I put are from Google – and in no way constitute a recommendation/endorsement for these places

Please use the Team Bhp directory or web searches (google, justdial, etc.) to find a nearby location

So without further ado.

1. Schedule Vanilla Workshops – this is the first level of support for any type of vehicle issue. Most FNGs fall into this category. Use them to

  • General maintenance (oil changes, filter changes, diagnosis and triage, etc.)
  • General powertrain issues – Engine, gearbox, clutch, etc.
  • General Maintenance – Body parts making noise, binding, needing lubrication, etc.
  • Brakes – leaky/weak brakes, hard brakes, etc.

Can usually do basic work for other categories as well

2. Body shops/paint shops

Nobody wants to go there, but we will all need it at some point. Go there for

  • Cosmetic improvements – Repainting, etc.

Things to look for – Ideally try to find a store with a paint booth, at least a makeshift shed. Otherwise you will end up with paint defects

Paint tends to be a bit of a commodity – try to get quotes from different stores.

3. Electrical workshop

Go there for

  • Dead battery, horns, lights
  • Alternator issues (dim lights, tachometer not working, battery not charging)
  • Install aftermarket horns, fog lights, etc.
  • Starter Related Problems – This is something you probably won’t be able to diagnose on your own, but will be told to you by the general shop
  • Some of these stores are battery stores, some are pure ac mechanics that will only do repairs on cars, and there are some larger ones that are authorized service centers for electrical component brands ( lucas tvs, valeo etc.).

Another thing to know is that most battery shops are happy to come to you if you have a dead battery. If your car breaks down somewhere because you left the headlights on and you need a jump start, it may be faster to call a local electrical store than wait for your RSA. You may have to pay a few hundred rupees (or not, if your battery gets too bad and you end up buying another one)

4.AC shop

Go if

  • Air conditioning does not work at all or makes funny noises

5. Wheel alignment workshop.

I hope if you are reading this article I assume that you are aware of the need to do periodic wheel alignments on your car. a rule of thumb is every 5K, but it can go either way. we have a great yarn for that.

But some things you need to know – You don’t NEED to do this at the service center. Though it’s handy if you’re doing service there anyway and their prices aren’t outrageous. I tend to stick with MRF T&S (although I will never buy an MRF tire!) because they have hunting machines, which are some of the best.

If you have an MRF Tyredrome in your area, even better. Remember to align your wheels after any repairs to the front suspension or steering, or if you have had catastrophic crashes, or if you feel the car pulling to one side (on all road types)

The above is pretty easy to find – it’s all just a Google search and won’t be too far. It helps to know which ones are closest to you, as it is often faster/cheaper to get to the nearest one than your usual workshop.

We are now entering the domain of specialists.

6. Pump Specialists

Typically, if your fuel pump fails, you’re going to be hit with a HUGE estimate. Don’t worry, find out who the OEM for your pump is, check their website/google and find out their nearest authorized service center.
You will also need to visit here if your injectors need repair or if you get a check engine light that points to your fuel system. There are a whole bunch of OEMs – Bosch, Delphi, Siemens are the most popular. It’s not just your injectors or your pump, your entire fuel subsystem needs to be calibrated correctly to make it work properly, and these guys will usually have the right equipment to do it.

If you are looking for a Lucas TVS Service Center, this is a good starting point

7. Turbocharger Service Centers

If you’re particularly unlucky, you may need to visit one of these locations. The small silver lining is if you use a locally made turbocharger.

If so, you are very lucky. You can have it rebuilt locally. find the nearest service center.

You can find them in the “ASC” section here. Keep in mind that getting a brand new turbo is rare. Usually for older cars they stock new gaskets and cores, but whole stock turbo units are usually refurbished. If your old turbo housing is intact, you better have your old turbo overhauled. Finding these stores tends to be difficult as they are few and far between and are usually very small. They usually won’t entertain you if you show up with your car and ask them to take it out and fix it. You will need to ask your current workshop to pull it out and give it to them. This is where I went. I think it’s closed now, and even they were very hard to find. they had an old faded plank and were on the first floor of a wedding hall! I couldn’t find any photos on the internet and had to get one from my own archives.

8. Car upholstery stores

You might be thinking – these are the guys who make seat covers, why go there for repairs?

As your car ages, different pieces of fabric start to come out – door cushion inserts, roof liners, bits of leather such as gaiters, etc.

These guys (and not all) can fix these things. Some things you need to consider are – Many places that say “auto upholstery” on Google search tend to be bike seat specialists. Even those who do automotive upholstery are sometimes lazy/not so skilled and won’t work on these minor repairs. Calling often is easier than visiting random stores. Sometimes you might even get a referral to an auto accessory store’s captive upholstery shop. Make sure you’re very clear with the upholstery guy on what fabric he’s going to use on your car – I’ve been burned at least once when the guy decided to do some last minute bait and change. Also have low expectations. These repairs tend to last 3-4 years depending on your usage. Considering the costs, I think it’s fair, and your car gets a new set of interiors.

9. ECU Technicians

You will need this if you have a check engine light. Usually there is no “there” – The exception is VAG cars where (to me as an outsider) you have to involve the software even if you have to change a light bulb, and their dashboards have tend to light up frequently, so Scanning for German cars is a profitable niche where a certain amount of cross-functional skill is needed to fix problems, so they tend to set up their own facilities. For my Indica, My Shop has a guy on call who comes in, runs his scans, then provides diagnosis and next steps to my regular shop (or sometimes they just rent his tools depending on whether the senior mechanics are around).

Each car needs its own set of reading tools etc. – and these guys have it all. It is best to contact them through your existing workshop, as they only deal with testing/diagnostics/consultations. The actual work must be done by the workshop. If you have a German car, their specialists are easy to find due to the nature of their target demographic. They will be active on social media, have a website and lots of fancy signage. They will sometimes also provide Softmodding and Tuning services.

10. Engine rebuilders

I haven’t had to go to any of these places yet, and usually it’s something that can be done by a local shop, but if you’d rather have it professionally done then these are good options . They generally cater to the commercial market and may not be interested in smaller motors – I’ll let those of you with experience share your thoughts on these places

Now some places I wish we had

A. Automatic transmission rebuilders.

In the United States, they’re everywhere, and having a transmission rebuilt is a fairly straightforward process. In India however, getting an AT rebuilt is a waste. Heck, getting regular service is complicated. Most bhpians complain about wrong class of ATF used etc. There are dedicated AT rebuilders in India but their feedback has been bad so I’ll wait for a decent place. Hopefully, as AT cars gain market share in India, demand for these will increase and more will open up, some of them actually capable.

B. Battery Reviewers –

Again, adoption of the proper hybrid in India has been low (Maruti’s “smart” hybrids aren’t even close). In the US, outfits have sprung up that overhaul old Prius and Leaf batteries. Hopefully in 10 years we will have more, so today’s EV owners don’t end up with $$$ battery replacements

And now a note on a few things you *SHOULD NOT* revise/reuse

Suspension – You can get rebuilt suspensions at your local junkyard place – I wouldn’t touch them. You’re just asking for trouble

Tires – Buses can retread their tires, but radial tires for passenger cars – don’t even think about it. I don’t think the security trade-off is worth it

Motor Oil – Filtering used motor oil is now a thriving business. Saved motor oil may look clean, but it’s nowhere near as effective as the crappy new oil.

Read BHPian’s comments for more ideas and information.

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