Diamond Certified Companies are Rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise.

  • Why this rating is the most accurate.
  • Our editors gather deep company info.
  • Performance is Guaranteed.

Diamond certified companies are top rated and guaranteed

Why Trust Diamond Certified Auto Repair Shops Rated Highest in Quality?

Vehicles on lifts being repaired in a clean, organized auto repair shop.

You are the customer. If your goal is to choose an auto repair shop that will deliver high customer satisfaction and quality, you’ll feel confident in choosing a Diamond Certified automotive repair center. Each has been rated Highest in Quality in the most accurate ratings process anywhere. And you’re always backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. Here’s why the Diamond Certified ratings and certification process will help you find a top-rated auto repair service and is unparalleled in its accuracy, rigor and usefulness:

1) Accuracy: All research is performed by live telephone interviews that verify only real customers are surveyed, so you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews.

2) Statistical Reliability: A large random sample of past customers is surveyed on an ongoing basis so the research results you see truly reflect a Diamond Certified company’s top-rated status.

3) Full Disclosure: By clicking the name of a company above you’ll see the exact rating results in charts and read verbatim survey responses as well as researched articles on each qualified company.

4) Guaranteed: Your purchase is backed up with mediation and the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee, so you can choose with confidence.

Click on the name of a Diamond Certified company above to read ratings results, researched articles and verbatim customer survey responses to help you make an informed decision.

More than 200,000 customers of local companies have been interviewed in live telephone calls, and only companies that score Highest in Quality in customer satisfaction–a 90+ on a 100 scale–as well as pass all of the credential-based ratings earn Diamond Certified. By requiring such a high score to qualify, the Diamond Certified program eliminates mediocre and poorly performing companies. Read detailed information about the ratings and certification process.

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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Marin County – Auto Repair CATEGORY

Ken DeMartini is a certified auto mechanic at Japan Auto Repair, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2002. He can be reached at (415) 347-5928 or by email.

Ken DeMartini

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Ken DeMartini: Beyond the Shop

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN RAFAEL — When asked what drew him to a career in auto repair, Ken DeMartini credits a lifelong fascination that began in his childhood. “I got my first car magazine when I was five or six years old and that was pretty much the beginning,” he remembers. “It was the 1960s, so cars were all the rage. I started doing automotive work as soon as I was old enough to drive, and it just came naturally to me, so I stuck with it. I took auto shop in high school and continued to pursue it in college. Thirty-five years later, I’m still working on cars.”

After 20 years as a mechanic at Japan Auto Repair, Inc., Ken says he enjoys the dynamic of working at an independently run shop. “We don’t have to deal with the politics of a big dealership, so we’re able to focus on what matters most: doing great work and taking care of our customers.”

Ken resides in Marin County with his wife, Sue, where he appreciates the temperate Bay Area climate. “The weather here is not only nice to live in, it also affects my work,” he says. “I lived in Alberta, Canada for several years, and the extreme cold caused a lot of rust issues with the cars. When you’ve worked in those kinds of conditions, you realize that the climate here is pretty accommodating.”

Outside of work, Ken extends his love of cars beyond the shop to his personal life. “I do some hobby racing, which is the least expensive form of car racing you can do,” he explains. “We built our car from a 1985 Toyota MR2, and we race locally at the Infineon Raceway at Sears Point.” When he’s not on the racetrack, Ken enjoys spending time with his family, including his and Sue’s three children and two grandchildren.

In his professional career, Ken espouses the importance of keeping his customers’ best interests at heart. “We always try to look at things from the customer’s perspective, especially when it comes to costs,” he says. “That’s why we only recommend repairs that are really necessary, which isn’t always how the dealerships operate. Customers will often come to us after being told by a dealership what they needed, and we just shake our heads.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Ken says he’d spend more time in the shop—the one in his garage at home, that is. “When you’re obsessed with cars, you tend to accumulate parts, usually for future projects. If I retired tomorrow, I would probably start going through my parts collection and get it sorted out. Once I finished that, I’d get to work on a few car projects I’ve been putting off.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1967 Chevrolet Impala.

Q: What’s your “dream car”?
A: A Jaguar XKE.

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco Giants.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Fast N’ Loud.”

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: French bread, butter and salami.

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How to Prevent Catastrophic Engine Failure

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SAN RAFAEL — Most catastrophic engine failures stem from a lack of lubrication, whether engine oil or transmission fluid. In either case, being proactive about ongoing fluid maintenance is the key to maximizing the life of your vehicle’s engine. Engine oil One… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Engine Fluid Maintenance

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Complete Video Transcription:

SAN RAFAEL — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to maintaining your vehicle, one of the most important things you can do is pay attention to vital engine… Read more

Yann d’Argence is a 30-year veteran of the auto repair industry and owner of All Autos, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2003. He can be reached at (415) 493-8926 or by email.

Yann d'Argence

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Yann d’Argence: An Inquisitive Inspiration

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN ANSELMO — When asked what led him to a career in auto repair, Yann d’Argence says it all stemmed from a youthful curiosity…one that got him in trouble on occasion. “As a kid, I had an obsession with taking things apart and seeing how they worked,” he remembers. “As I got older, this became concentrated on the family car. One time, while I was messing with the engine, I accidentally dropped a washer down the carburetor and damaged the valve. My mom said, ‘You broke it, you fix it,’ so I ended up doing a valve job. At 15, I had no idea what I was doing—all I had was a manual. I was basically flying by the seat of my pants, but I got it done!”

Not long after, Yann got his first job working at an auto shop in his hometown of Mill Valley. Following high school, he earned his AA in Automotive Technology from College of Marin and landed a job at a large auto repair facility. Over the next 13 years, Yann would increase his skills not only on the service floor, but also at the front desk and in the office. “Working on cars came naturally to me, but the nuances of running a business did not,” he explains. “Working for that big shop gave me valuable experience with managing a business and working with customers, which came in handy when I opened my own facility years later.”

Today, 20 years after founding All Autos, Inc., Yann says his favorite part of his job is helping customers get back on the road. “It feels good to take care of a customer’s needs, especially when they’re under a lot of pressure. I have a really loyal customer base, so it’s very rewarding to be there for them when they need me.”

A lifetime resident of Marin County, Yann spends the bulk of his free time outdoors. “I’m an avid mountain biker, and I also enjoy water skiing, snow skiing and range shooting.” Additionally, Yann likes hanging out with his son, Max, who works as a technician at All Autos, and his daughter, Alexa, who works as an interior designer.

In regard to his professional career, Yann espouses the importance of providing solutions for his customers’ problems. “In addition to resolving issues in a timely and cost-effective manner, we aim to fix them correctly the first time,” he affirms. “If it’s not done right the first time, we bend over backward to get it right the second time. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting our customers back on the road and making them happy with our service.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Yann says he’d hit the road. “I’ve traveled in Europe a lot, but I haven’t seen that much of the United States. I’d love to rent an RV and drive across the country. I’d see it all: The Grand Canyon, the Great Lakes, the Teton Range—you name it.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A Fiat 128 sedan—the one I had to fix when I was 15.

Q: What’s your dream car?
A: One of the new Teslas. They’re fast, they look great and they’re basically maintenance-free.

Q: What’s your favorite dessert?
A: Crème brûlée.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Standing up for the underdog. I was pretty much full-grown by the time I was 15, so I would protect the geeks from the bullies in exchange for help with my homework. It got me through high school!

Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: ’60s and ’70s rock.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The past. I’d love to go back to the turn of the 20th century, when cars were first being built.

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Demystifying the “Check Engine” Light

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The “check engine” light may be the most commonly known dashboard warning light, but it’s also the most misunderstood, and for good reason: Not only can any number of issues cause it to come on, it can also signify anything… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Understanding “Check Engine” Lights

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Complete Video Transcription:

SAN ANSELMO — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re unsure what the “check engine” light on your car’s dashboard means, you should take some time to… Read more

SELECTED PHOTOS FROM THESE TOP RATED COMPANIES

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INDUSTRY INFORMATION AND RESEARCHED ARTICLES BY THE DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESOURCE

  • ACDelco

  • Unocal 76

  • Acura

  • Honda

  • Hyundai

  • Infiniti

  • Jaguar

  • Conoco/Phillips/76

  • Delphi

  • Kendall

Acura MDX
BMW 3 Series
Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Equinox
Chevrolet Impala
Honda Odyssey
Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai Sonata
Kia Sorento
Mazda MAZDA 3
Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Nissan Altima
Nissan Murano
Subaru Outback
Toyota Camry
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Prius
Toyota RAV4
Volkswagen Jetta
Chevy Silverado
Dodge Ram Pickup
Ford F-150
Ford Fiesta
Ford Focus
Ford Mustang
GMC Sierra
Honda Accord
Honda Civic
Honda CR-V

air conditioner repair
car tire repair
muffler repairs
auto tune-up
auto diagnostics
clutch repairs
automobile oil change
auto ignition repairs
car problem diagnostic
mechanical auto repairs
auto smog repairs
rough idling
fuel injection repair
full engine overhauls
engine rebuilding
carburetor service
timing problems
hose replacement
domestic auto repair
foreign car repair
auto electrical repair
auto brake repair
European auto repair
Japanese auto repair
auto engine repairs
mobile auto repair
car window repair
auto radiator repair
transmission repair

Almonte
Bel Marin Keys
Belvedere
Belvedere Tiburon
Black Point
Bolinas
Corte Madera
Dillon Beach
Dogtown
Fairfax
Forest Knolls
Greenbrae
Ignacio
Inverness
Kent Woodlands
Kentfield
Lagunitas
Larkspur
Lucas Valley
Marin City
Marinwood
Marshall
Mill Valley
Mission Rafael
Muir Beach
Muir Woods
Nicasio
Novato
Olema
Point Reyes Station
Ross
San Anselmo
San Geronimo
San Marin
San Quentin
San Rafael
Santa Venetia
Sausalito
Sleepy Hollow
Stinson Beach
Strawberry Point
Tamal
Tamalpais Valley
Terra Linda
Tiburon
Tomales
Woodacre

94901
94903
94904
94912
94913
94914
94915
94920
94924
94925
94929
94930
94933
94937
94938
94939
94940
94941
94942
94945
94946
94947
94948
94949
94950
94956
94957
94960
94963
94964
94965
94966
94970
94971
94973
94974
94976
94977
94978
94979

National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) (http://www.asecert.org/)
American Salvage Pool Association (ASPA) (http://www.aspa.com/)
Automotive Warehouse Distributor Association (AWDA) (http://www.awda.org/)
American Automobile Association (AAA) (http://www.aaa.com/)
Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) (http://www.carcrash.org/)
Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) (http://www.aftermarket.org/)
Alliance Of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) (http://www.autoserviceproviders.com/)
Automotive Composites Alliance (ACA) (http://www.autocomposites.org/)
Association of Diesel Specialists (ADS) (http://www.diesel.org/)
Engine Builders Association (AERA) (www.aera.org)
Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) (http://www.aiag.org/)
Automotive Recycler’s Association (ARA) (http://www.a-r-a.org/)
Automotive Service Association (ASA) (http://www.asashop.org/)
California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) (http://www.autorepair.ca.gov/)
California Service Station and Automotive Repair Association (CSSARA) (http://www.cssara.org/)
Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) (http://www.i-car.com/)
Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) (http://www.jama.org/)
Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) (http://www.mema.org/)
National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF)

Know What You Want
Know What Auto Repair Services You Want from Local Vehicle Repair Shops in Marin County

It’s important to pinpoint what you want in a mechanic before you start looking for an auto repair shop in Marin County. If you’re unsatisfied with your current auto repair facility and need a new car mechanic, ask yourself what it is you are unhappy with. Is it the service, the quality of the car repairs, difficulty in scheduling, or something else? Knowing exactly why you’re dissatisfied with in your previous shop will help you find a new auto mechanic that has all the qualities you’re looking for. You’ll have a better idea of what questions to ask to ensure your next shop is better than the last. You’ll also be aware of what can go wrong, so you’ll know to seek shops that offer high quality auto repairs rather than cut-rate services that leave you discontented.

If you’re experiencing car problems and need to have your vehicle checked by a good auto repair shop in Marin County, you’re wise to take note of exactly what you’re experiencing and when it happens. That way, you’ll be able to gauge each technician’s response and decide which shop is best suited to handle your vehicle repairs.
Pay special attention to these questions:

  • Do I want a Diamond Certified company that is rated best in quality and backed by the Diamond Certified Guarantee?
  • What is the exact car problem you’re experiencing? (Faulty engine sensor, catalytic converter problems, check engine light, car battery problems, etc.)
  • Does the vehicle pull to one side or do you feel vibrations when you drive?
  • How long has the car problem been occurring? Is the problem intermittent or constant?
  • When does the problem happen?
  • Do you have to add fluids more often than usual? If so, which fluids—engine oil, automatic transmission fluid, anti-freeze or engine coolant, brake fluid, washer fluid or differential fluid?
  • Has your vehicle’s performance decreased?
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What To Ask In Person
What to Ask Marin County Auto Repair Mechanics In Person

The next step is to interview local car shops in Larkspur, Corte Madera, Tiburon, Novato, Sausalito and other areas of Marin County. Questions you may want to ask include:

  • How long will it take to complete my repairs?
  • Will my vehicle be stored inside the shop or outside while it’s on your premises? If it’s stored outside, what steps does your shop take to guarantee its safety?
  • If my vehicle needs additional repairs you cannot do (body damage repair, auto electrical wiring, auto warranty work, auto glass repair), will you coordinate with other Marin County auto repair shops to have the repairs done?
  • Will you warranty the repairs those other shops perform, or will they be responsible to provide any warranties?
  • What contact information do you have on file for me? What else do you need in order to reach me with updates about my auto repairs?
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  • What To Ask References
    Learn from Previous Marin County Auto Repair Customers

    How can you know that auto repair facilities in Marin County will live up to their word? That’s where independent research and scientific surveys come in. All Diamond Certified auto repair shops have passed an in-depth ratings process that most other companies can’t.

    If you want quality vehicle repairs from an auto shop in Marin County, you’ll have confidence when choosing a Diamond Certified company. You can read detailed Diamond Certified reports on all certified companies, including verbatim survey responses. And you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews because all research is carried out by live telephone interviews of a large, random sample of real customers.

    If you can’t find a Diamond Certified car repair shop within reach, you’ll need to conduct some research of your own. Even if you’re in a hurry, it is still a good idea to check references. If you do, good auto repair shops in Marin County should be willing to give you a list of recent customers you can call. Keep in mind, though, that references provided by the shops are not equal in value to the large random sample of previous customers surveyed during the Diamond Certified ratings process. That’s because references are often cherry-picked, not randomly selected from all company customers, so many shops will likely give you a the numbers of a few satisfied customers.

    To avoid this, specifically ask for a list of their 10 most recent customers and call them. Ask general questions about their experience with the shop’s personnel as well as specific questions about the car repairs they had done and the outcome.

    Sample questions you might want to ask include:

    • What car repairs did _(auto repair shop name_) do on your vehicle?
    • Were you satisfied with the automotive repairs from this Marin County auto repair shop?
    • Was your auto shop willing to tow your car or truck to their auto repair garage if you live out of town or in a smaller town such as Almonte, Nicasio, San Quentin, Sleepy Hollow, Tamalpais Valley, Woodacre or in the rural North Bay area,?
    • Were you pleased with the auto repair shop’s turn-around time?
    • Did the mechanics and service writers listen to and communicate well with you?
    • Was the price fair for the auto repairs you had done? Did it reflect the estimate the auto repair center initially provided you?
    • What did you like best about this Marin County auto repair shop?
    • Would you go back to this car repair facility if your vehicle needs additional work in the future?
    • Would you recommend this auto repair garage?
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  • Review Your Options
    Find Good Auto Repair Services in Marin County

    The Diamond Certified symbol has been awarded to companies that scored Highest in Quality in an accurate ratings process.

    When your car breaks down unexpectedly, you can feel pressured to choose the nearest auto repair shop in Marin County, regardless if it’s the shop you feel most comfortable with. That’s why it’s a good idea to find a trustworthy auto repair shop before you need one.

    Additionally, having a good relationship with a local automobile repair shop you trust will give you confidence when you need car repairs in a hurry. Start by researching and visiting good auto repair shops in Marin County for simple repairs and preventative maintenance. Get to know the car mechanics and build a working relationship with them so that you’ll trust them with more expensive and unexpected repairs in the future.

    Try to go to the same shop for all routine maintenance services and minor repairs. That way, the auto mechanics can keep a record of your vehicle repair services, so you aren’t wasting money on repairs and scheduled maintenance items before they’re needed.

    To choose the best shop for you, review the notes from your telephone and in-person interviews with local auto repair technicians and determine if one Marin County auto shop stands out from the rest. Ask the following questions to narrow down your choices to the car repair shop that most closely matches your expectations:

    • Can one of the Marin County auto repair shops you interviewed satisfy your requirements for scheduling repairs, types of car repairs needed, auto part preferences (OEM parts or aftermarket auto parts) and customer service?
    • Does car repair shop staff communicate clearly regarding needed repairs and why they’re required?
    • Is it as important to the vehicle repair shop as it is to you to safely and quickly get your car repaired?
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  • How To Work With
    How to Get Accurate Auto Repair Estimates From Marin County Car Repair Shops

    Emergency car repairs don’t have to be a major setback. Once you’ve found a local Marin County auto repair shop you trust for regular maintenance, that should give you peace of mind even for emergency car repairs.
    When getting car repair estimates, you’ll first want to meet with the shop’s service writer and explain what the problem is. Bring your written list of the car trouble you’re experiencing so you can accurately describe your concerns. Be as detailed as possible.

    It’s important to answer the auto shop staff’s questions and listen to their suggestions and observations, just as it’s important for them to listen to you. Ask for an explanation if you don’t understand what the repair shop representative is suggesting or if they’re using terms you aren’t familiar with. Remember, the mechanic and service writer should never rush you. You should completely grasp the problem and solution before you sign any agreement or leave your vehicle at the shop.

    By law, auto repair shops must provide written auto repair estimates before the work begins. Estimates must include the total (estimated) cost for parts and labor, an itemized list of all parts needed and a description of the method of repair. Never sign a blank work order.

    Sometimes a thorough diagnosis is needed before a shop can give you an accurate estimate. In this case, the estimate you sign may only include the cost of the car repair diagnostics and labor. However, if the actual auto repair costs end up being more than the original estimate, the technicians must contact you before they move ahead with the repairs.

    Sign an Auto Repair Contract with the Marin County Car Mechanics
    Only when you’re satisfied with the information your Marin County repair shop has given you and all your questions are answered should you sign the estimate and service agreement. The shop must get your approval for any additional repairs or if the actual repair costs exceed the estimate. It can slow down or even stop progress on your repairs if the service writer can’t reach you, so verify that your repair shop has a phone number where they can reach you at all times.

    It’s your legal right to have old auto parts returned to you. You simply have to ask for them when the auto repair shop is writing up the initial service request. Most mechanics in Marin County, including those in the larger cities of San Rafael, San Anselmo, Novato, Mill Valley and Larkspur will allow you to see the damaged auto parts once they’ve identified the problem. If the shop you’re considering tells you this isn’t possible, you may want to ask them to explain why or reconsider choosing that shop. Understand that mechanics may need to return to the supplier parts that are under warranty, so they may not be able to return them to you, but you still have the right to see them.

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  • Be a Good Customer
    Simple Ways You Can Be a Good Auto Repair Shop Customer in Marin County

    It’s your auto repair shop’s responsibility to perform accurate and careful automobile repairs. But you play a big part in the success of your car’s repair too. Take these easy steps to be a good customer when dropping off your minivan, van, truck or car at local auto repair shops in Marin County:

    • Remember, a friendly smile goes a long way.
    • Carefully explain to the auto repair representative the problem you’re experiencing, what outcome you’re expecting and specific ways they can satisfy you.
    • Before you leave your car, truck or van at the Marin County auto repair shop you’ve chosen, restate your expectations and goals, and reiterate your understanding of the agreement. Most problems with local auto repair shops are due to miscommunication, so you can avoid most conflicts by being clear about the expectations you and the auto repair shop have.
    • Be sure your service writer has a working phone number where they can reach you at all times while your car or truck is in for repairs. Ask your service writer whether they will call you with vehicle repair updates or if you should call them.
    • Return calls right away when your auto shop contacts you,.
    • Pay for the car repairs promptly.
    • Why would you want to take steps to be a good auto repair shop customer? Car repair shops in Marin County appreciate customers who are straightforward, honest and easy to work with. Your good customer behavior sets the tone from your end and creates an environment conducive to a good relationship and may help your repairs go smoother and more easily resolve any problems.
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Check The Work
Check Completed Car Repairs Against the Written Invoice

When your auto repairs are completed, your mechanic is legally required to give you a written invoice that includes:

  • The auto repair shop’s name, physical address and auto repair registration number.
  • A list of all work completed, including repairs covered under warranty.
  • An itemized list of all replacement parts. This list must also clearly state whether the replacement auto parts were new, used auto parts, salvaged car parts, reconditioned auto parts, or rebuilt parts.
  • The total cost for your auto repairs, including itemized labor charges.
  • Any hazardous waste disposal fees and the shop’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) number.
  • The vehicle’s odometer reading at drop off and pick up, if you asked for the confirmation of the numbers before signing the service agreement.

And remember, it’s your right to have any original car parts returned to you, but only if you asked for them when you signed the estimate before the repairs.

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Written Warranties
Insist on Written Warranties from Vehicle Repair Mechanics in Marin County

Confirm the warranties offered by the repair shop and the parts manufacturer before you pay for the work or remove your vehicle from the auto repair shop. Warranties can be voided and your ability to demand warranty coverage on repairs can be limited if you don’t confirm warranties before leaving the premises.

Not all auto repair shops guarantee their work, and they are not required to. However, those that do must give you a written warranty document including:

  • The repair facility name and physical business address.
  • Parts under warranty and the extent of coverage, including whether the shop will replace or repair failed parts or give you a refund in the event of auto parts failure.
  • Your responsibility in the case of product failure, including actions you must take in order to redeem the warranty.
  • How long the warranty is valid, if it expires on a specific day, or if it is prorated.
  • Whether the automotive repair warranty coverage is transferrable to a new owner if you sell the vehicle. And, if it is, what steps you need to take to transfer the warranty.
  • All exclusions must be explicitly stated.
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Top 10 Requests
Top Marin County Auto Repair Services

Car repair shops in Marin County provide all types of maintenance and automotive repair services. However, some repairs are more common than others. The following are the most familiar requests for local auto repair shops in Marin County, including those in Mill Valley, Larkspur, San Anselmo, San Rafael and Novato and the surrounding areas.

Routine Vehicle Maintenance
Routine vehicle maintenance is the regular car check-up schedule recommended by vehicle manufacturers. Routine maintenance occurs at regular intervals and typically involves replacing air filters, fuel filters, cabin filters and spark plugs. Most car mechanics in Marin County will also check, flush and replace car fluids and ensure the auto engine, car exhaust and vehicle electrical systems are functioning properly. Routine vehicle maintenance checks are also known as a car tune up. Vehicle tune-ups can prevent expensive car repairs by fixing small issues before they become big problems.

Auto Electrical Repair
Auto electrical repairs become more common as vehicles become more computerized and complex. Most auto electrical repairs in Marin County are for alternator repairs. Vehicle starter repairs are also common. Experts recommend checking your entire auto electrical system every two years and whenever you experience drivability problems that may be electrical in nature.

Auto Engine Repair

Often signaled by a lit Check Engine light, vehicle engine problems can also present themselves as sputtering, choking, fast or rough idling, slow acceleration or the vehicle not starting even though the ignition turns over. Because there is such a range of engine problems that can cause these symptoms, few car owners attempt do-it-yourself engine repairs. There are automobile mechanics throughout Marin County that specialize in automotive engine repairs.

Auto Ignition System Repair

Automobile ignition system repairs include battery, starter and car ignition replacements. Starters and ignitions can be expensive, but they are necessary in order to guarantee your car will start reliably.

Auto Electrical Repair

Auto electrical problems can be as simple as blown fuses or burned-out headlights or as serious as electrical problems that keep you from safely driving your vehicle. Because these auto repairs demand special equipment, tools and repair methods, most auto electrical repairs are best left to automobile electrical repair technicians in Marin County.

Automobile Brake Repairs

Vehicle brake repairs are a common request made at local auto repair shops in Mill Valley, Fairfax, Sausalito and all throughout Marin County. This is because car brakes wear down with use. Most brake repairs are relatively inexpensive brake pad replacement. Because you rely on your car or truck brakes to stop your vehicle, brakes should be checked regularly. Bring your car in for brake inspections immediately if you experience any of these signs:

  • The brake pedal feels hard when you press it
  • Low or spongy-feeling brake pedal
  • The brake warning light stays on continuously
  • Squealing or grinding sounds when you brake

Vehicle Brake Replacement
Like brake repair, auto brake replacements are common car repairs in Marin County. Full brake replacements, including the brake disc, drum and rotor can be costly, but may be necessary if you’ve been driving with worn or damaged brakes that have warped or damaged the brake system.

Mobile Mechanic (Mobile Auto Repair)

Mobile mechanic shops in Marin County including those Belvedere-Tiburon, San Anselmo, Santa Venetia, Greenbrae, Fairfax and Corte Madera are increasingly popular. Instead of having vehicles towed to repair shops, many customers opt to have licensed mechanics come to them. Mobile auto repair services provide auto tune-ups, routine maintenance, auto electrical repairs and belt and hose replacement.

Auto Fuel System Repairs

Clogged fuel pumps are a common problem for Marin County drivers who regularly run on less than a quarter tank of fuel. Other auto fuel system problems include clogged fuel filters, engine flooding and choking sounds. Auto fuel system repairs are usually best handled by professional car mechanics who have the experience and tools to clean, repair and replace fuel system components.

Auto Belt and Automotive Hose Repair / Replacement

Vehicle belts and hoses including the drive belt, fan belt, serpentine belt, timing belt, heater hose and fuel hose keep your engine and vehicle systems running smoothly. Signs that can indicate problems with belts and hoses include squeaking noises, vehicle fluid leaks, warning lights / check engine lights and car engine overheating.

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Glossary Of Terms
Auto Repair Glossary of Common Terms

Below are key auto repair terms and descriptions that will help you communicate more effectively with your marin County auto repair shop and navigate your way through your auto’s repair from beginning to end.

air filter
Auto air filters are paper or synthetic filters that block dust, dirt and debris as air enters the vehicle engine.

Also known as: auto air filters, auto cabin air filter, car air filter, performance air filter, auto air filter replacements


aftermarket auto parts

Auto repair parts not made by the original manufacturer. Aftermarket auto parts are made to fit and function like original parts, but they’re frequently less expensive than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. Some aftermarket auto parts are redesigned to increase performance in high-performance vehicles.

Also known as: aftermarket parts, functionally-equivalent auto parts, off-brand auto parts, off-make auto parts, performance aftermarket parts


auto repair shop

An automotive repair shop that maintain and repair the internal working parts of automobiles. Some Marin County auto repair shops specialize in specific repairs, such as auto electrical repair shops, automobile brake shops, muffler repair shops and automobile engine repair shops. Other vehicle repair centers in Marin County are general repair garages that do all types of maintenance and service repairs.

Also known as: car repair shop, automobile repair shop, auto mechanic shop, car mechanic shop, auto repair garage

all-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive systems increase wheel traction on slippery roads and during off-road driving. All-wheel drive is different from 4-wheel drive because drivers cannot disengage AWD systems.

Also known as: AWD

anti-freeze
Liquid in cooling systems that dissipates heat is known as anti-freeze. Antifreeze prevents freezing during winter, cools the engine in summer and protects the cooling system from rust and corrosion.

Also known as: coolant, auto anti-freeze, antifreeze

auto electrical repair
Auto repairs to the electrical system of a vehicle. Auto electrical repairs may include alternator repair, auto starter repair, ignition repair, and auto electrical wiring repairs or replacement.

Also known as: automobile electrical repair, automotive electrical repair, car electrical repair, auto electrical service

catalytic converter
A vehicle’s catalytic converter separates exhaust particles and burns them before they leave the tailpipe, ensuring cleaner auto emissions

Also known as: catcon, cat

chassis
The undercarriage of a vehicle is known as the chassis. The chassis carries all power train and suspension parts.

Also known as: framework, auto case, auto frame, auto undercarriage, car chassis, auto chassis

control arms
The moving suspension components mounted between the vehicle frame and the wheels are known as control arms.

Also known as: car wishbone, auto double wishbone, vehicle suspension, car control arms, vehicle control arm repairs

crankcase
The largest engine section, the crankcase contains the crankshaft.

Also known as: crank case, automotive crank-case

crankshaft
The rod that transfers power from the engine to the transmission.

Also known as: crank, crank-shaft

differential
The differential is important for turning and cornering. It’s the gear system that allows one wheel to rotate faster than the other.

Also known as: rear differential

domestic auto repair shops
Auto repair garages in Marin County that specialize in repairing domestic vehicles are known as ‘domestic auto repair shops’. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler (also known as The Big Three) are considered domestic vehicle manufacturers.

Also known as: repair for domestic cars, American-made car repairs, domestic automobile repair

engine hesitation
The momentary loss of power on acceleration that causes a vehicle to hesitate when gaining speed.

Also known as: car hesitation, engine sputtering, auto stumbling, vehicle hesitation

fast idle
When a vehicle’s engine runs fast while the vehicle is stopped and idling.

Also known as: fast motor idle speed, fast idling, car idling fast

flooded engine
A vehicle engine is said to be flooded when too much fuel is in the cylinders and makes starting difficult or impossible. Flooded engines can be a sign of fuel system problems or can be driver error.

Also known as: engine flooded with gas, car flooded, engine stall, flooded vehicle

foreign auto repair shops
Foreign auto repair shops in Marin County perform repairs and maintenance on vehicles manufactured by foreign car companies, including some automobiles built in the United States, including BMW, Toyota, Honda and Lexus.

four-wheel drive
4WD is a drive system that powers all four wheels and provides better traction during off-road use and poor weather conditions.

Also known as: 4WD, 4×4, four by four, sport utility vehicle

front-wheel drive
A driving system that powers the front wheels of the vehicle. Front-wheel drive systems can be automatic or manual shift.

Also known as: FWD, front wheel drive, frontwheel drive

fuel injection repairs
The fuel delivery system where injectors (also known as nozzles) spray fuel into the cylinders, giving better fuel control and efficiency.

Also known as: electronic fuel injection (EFI), fuel injection system repairs

horsepower
The amount of energy produced by a vehicle’s engine.

Also known as: HP, mechanical horsepower, car horsepower, vehicle horsepower, electrical horsepower

idling
Idling is the term used to describe a vehicle that is stationary but running.

Also known as: auto idle, slow idle, fast idling, automotive idling, car idle speed

mechanic
An auto mechanic is a professional who repairs and maintains vehicles. The best mechanics are those that have a combination of natural ability, training, experience and professional certifications.

Also known as: auto mechanic, automobile mechanic, auto repair technician

mobile auto repair
Marin County mechanics who repair vehicles on-site are known as mobile auto repair services. Mobile auto repair shops in San Rafael, Novato, San Anselmo, Larkspur and Mill Valley can often do minor and major repairs and tune-ups.

OEM auto parts (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
Auto parts made by the vehicle manufacturer. While they may cost more than aftermarket auto parts, OEM parts usually fit better, last longer and are covered by warranties.

Also known as: Original Equipment Manufacturer parts, stock vehicle parts, stock parts

power loss
When an engine runs at reduced speed or requires more throttle to maintain speed, a car is suffering power loss. This can be indicative of an engine problem or auto electrical issue. See your mechanic for accurate auto diagnostics when it comes to vehicle power loss.

Also known as: auto power loss, low power output, automobile hesitating

power train
The term referring to the transmission and engine, the parts that deliver power to the vehicle.

revolutions per minute
The speed at which the engine crankshaft is turning.

Also known as: RPM

rebuilt auto parts
Rebuilt auto parts are used auto parts that have been remanufactured, reconditioned and restored.

Also known as: salvage auto parts, salvage car parts, salvaged parts, used auto parts, replacement parts, used car parts, refurbished auto parts, rebuilt auto parts

rough idle
Rough idling is when the engine shakes and vibrates while the vehicle is running and stationary.

Also known as: vibrations, auto choking, engine sputtering, engine idling roughly, rough engine idling, rough idle repairs

salvage auto parts
Auto parts taken from recycled vehicles are called salvage auto parts. These are often inexpensive auto repair parts, but they usually don’t come with warranties because they haven’t been repaired or altered so their reliability can’t be guaranteed. Salvage auto parts are often a last resort for vehicle owners looking for hard-to-find parts for rare or older vehicles.

Also known as: salvage parts, salvage car parts, salvaged parts, used auto parts, replacement parts, used car parts

serpentine belt
Serpentine belts are long, continuous belts that run several automotive engine components, indulging the car alternator, power steering pump, air pump and vehicle water pump.

Also known as: multi-vee belts, multi-v belts, multi-rib belts

shimmy
The term for a side-to-side motion that causes a vehicle’s tires and steering wheel to shake is shimmy. All vehicle vibrations, including car shimmying, should be diagnosed by a qualified auto repair technician to rule out major vehicle problems.

Also known as: car shaking, vehicle vibrations

suspension
The shock absorbers and springs that create a smoother ride by dampening the motion of a vehicle as it drives.

Also known as: suspension system

timing belt
The timing belt is a toothed belt that is operated by the crankshaft and drives the camshaft in a vehicle Broken timing belts cause valves to remain open and can cause engine damage when the valve is struck and bent by a piston.

undercarriage
The underside of a vehicle that supports the car and creates the framework.

Also known as: automobile framework, car body, auto frame, vehicle chassis, car undercarriage, automotive undercarriage, undercarriage repairs

vacuum hose
A hose that creates vacuum suction force in the engine. Vacuum hoses move fluids from one part of the engine to another.

water pump
The pump that moves coolant (antifreeze) through the radiator and engine.

Also known as: car water pump, car coolant pump

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Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about Vehicle Repairs in Marin County

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified Auto Repair Shop in Marin County?
A: We end the guessing game by offering a list of top-rated local companies that have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Most companies can’t pass, so only local auto repair shops rated Highest in Quality earn the Diamond Certified award. American Ratings Corporation also monitors every Diamond Certified company with in-depth and ongoing research and ratings. And your purchase is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. So you’ll feel confident choosing a Diamond Certified auto body shop for your vehicle repair.

Q: Should I look for a local auto repair shop that has certifications such as ASE certification?

A: While certifications don’t guarantee you’ll get better repairs or better service at the Marin County vehicle repair centers that hold them, they are often an indicator of how serious the auto repair shop is about satisfying customers and doing good auto repairs.

Certifications such as ASE (Automotive Service Excellence), professional recognition and memberships in automotive service organizations show that the car mechanics have sought and attained a higher level of professionalism.

Q: What rights do I have as a consumer in Marin County when it comes to car repairs?

A: The Automotive Repair Act of 1974 entitles all auto repair customers to a written estimate for all vehicle repair work, a detailed invoice that lists all work done and an itemized parts list, and the return of the old car parts if customers request their return when placing the work order. For more information, visit the Bureau of Auto Repair website.

Q: What are aftermarket auto parts?

A: Aftermarket parts are those not produced by the original parts manufacturer, but are made to perform and fit like the original parts. Aftermarket parts may look or feel different than original parts since they’re manufactured on different equipment. Because of this, aftermarket parts are often less expensive than OEM parts. Some aftermarket parts have been carefully redesigned to fit and function better than OEM parts, so your auto repair shop may recommend them as a good alternative.

Some auto repair shops in Corte Madera, San Rafael, San Anselmo and other areas of Marin County use aftermarket parts to lower the price of their repairs, so it’s important to ask your car mechanic what quality of parts they’re installing.

Q: What are OEM parts?

A: OEM auto parts are Original Equipment Manufacturer parts and are made by the same manufacturer that produced the original auto parts. Most automobile manufacturers rely on separate auto parts manufacturers to design and produce auto parts. After a certain time, these OEM parts are available through wholesale car parts distributors. Once available through auto part wholesalers in Marin County, OEM parts can be much less expensive than when sold through the car dealer.

Q: Should I request OEM parts or aftermarket auto parts?
A: Because aftermarket parts are often cheaper than OEM parts, some auto repair garages in Marin County install them to make car repairs less expensive. However, aftermarket parts may not be the same quality as original manufacturer parts, so you’ll have to repair or replace them sooner. And aftermarket parts can cause expensive damage to your vehicle if they don’t fit properly. However, some aftermarket auto parts are designed to fit and function better than original parts. Your mechanic should be able to explain why they recommend certain auto parts. If it’s to provide cheap auto repairs, you may be at an advantage by requesting OEM parts. But aftermarket parts may be a wise choice if it’s for better performance.

Q: Is there a difference between independent auto repair shops in Marin County and dealership repair shops?
A: Which shop you choose for vehicle maintenance and car repairs is a personal decision based on where your car receives the best repair service and where you feel most comfortable. However, there are differences between independent auto repair shops and vehicle dealership repair centers located in Novato, Larkspur and the rest of Marin County. Local independent repair shops have the freedom to use any brand or quality of parts they choose. This, along with the fact that they usually have lower hourly rates for car repairs, can mean big savings.
Auto dealership repair shops may be better choices for owners of newer makes and models, as dealership car repair technicians are usually trained in new vehicle maintenance and car repair methods long before classes are offered to independent shops. Many newer cars are also still under warranty, meaning some repairs can be done free at a dealership. In fact, in some cases, warranty repairs at independent automotive repair shops can void warranties.

Q: Is it important to take my car to a local repair shop for regular maintenance?
A: Regularly-scheduled auto maintenance is the most cost-effective way to avoid expensive car repairs. Your car’s maintenance schedule should be listed in the owner’s manual, and your Marin County auto repair shop can help you decide when your car is due for regular tune-ups and vehicle maintenance visits.

Q: Will I save money by hiring a discount auto repair garage in Marin County?
A: When choosing a car repair center, keep in mind that margins are tight for most auto repairs. There are only a few ways shops can offer radically lower prices than the competition. They may install used auto parts or salvage parts, or they may hire mechanics and auto technicians that have little experience. So on the surface, their rates may seem lower, but their lack of experience and dedication to quality can mean you’ll have to replace parts sooner. Shoddy repairs can even cause permanent damage to your vehicle, creating larger repair bills and lowering its resale value.
The same warnings ring true for auto repair shops that advertise low hourly rates. While some are honest shops that have lower overhead or other factors that decrease their bottom lines, some are shady shops that can purposely take longer to repair your car and leave you with a higher bill than if you had gone to an honest auto repair shop with experienced technicians.

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