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

  • Why this rating is the most accurate.
  • Our editors gather deep company info.
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Diamond certified companies are top rated and guaranteed

Why Trust Diamond Certified Auto Repair Shops Rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise®?

Photo: Empire Auto Repair & Smog ©2014

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 and Helpful Expertise® 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 and Helpful Expertise®–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 Resource eliminates mediocre and poorly performing companies. Read detailed information about the ratings and certification process.

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Will Trbovich is a 50-year veteran of the auto repair industry and the owner of Acurit Auto Repair, a Diamond Certified company since 2003. Contact Will at(707) 722-7934or by email.

Will Trbovich

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Will Trbovich: Spirit of Sustainability

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ROHNERT PARK – Most people don’t associate auto repair with environmental consciousness, but for Will Trbovich, owner of Acurit Auto Repair in Rohnert Park, a passion for sustaining the planet goes hand in hand with his overall business philosophy. “As a Green business, we believe in repairing and maintaining things rather than throwing them away,” he explains. “By servicing each vehicle with a mind to maximize its lifespan, we do our part to prevent waste.” Will’s environmental awareness also includes specializing in hybrid vehicles and taking part in AAA’s battery recycling program, but when he first became interested in auto repair at the age of 16, he was less concerned about his carbon footprint than about getting behind the wheel of his dream car.

Many mechanics have stories about their first loves, and Will’s is a classic rendition of “the one that got away.” “It was a ’49 Oldsmobile Coupe with a beautiful yellow paint job and a green top,” he remembers. “I had just bought it and was driving it to show off to my friends when it just stopped running.” After taking the bus home, Will immediately resold the car to his friend who was a mechanic. What happened next would alter the course of his life. “I brought my buddy to where the car was parked. He lifted the hood, told me to turn it over, popped off the distributor cap, made a quick adjustment and it started right up. As I watched him drive away with my car, I remember thinking to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

Will immediately set to pursuing his newfound goal in the most direct way he could—by seeking employment opportunities that would immerse him in the field. “I would take a job at any place that would teach me auto mechanics, even if it was just a gas station,” he says. “I told the owners upfront, ‘I’ll work for you, but you have to teach me how to repair cars or send me to school, because that’s what I want to do.’” Over the next several years, Will would receive a thorough industry education between the shop and the classroom before eventually opening Acurit Auto Repair in 1996.

Having spent the bulk of his life in an urban setting, Will says he has a special appreciation for the natural beauty, temperate weather and slower pace of Sonoma County. His love of the outdoors is evident in the way he spends his time outside of the shop. “My main hobby is golf—I play three or four times a week. I’m a private pilot as well, so I do a little flying on the weekends with friends and family.” Will also volunteers at the Bouverie Preserve in Glen Ellen, where he facilitates nature hikes for elementary school classes. “I love being out in nature and I love kids, so it’s a really good fit for me. We take them on three-hour hikes through the preserve and show them what things were like before humans moved in and paved everything.”

Will’s dedication to educating the younger generation is yet another offshoot of the emphasis on sustainability and environmental stewardship that marks his business practices. “There’s a quote from an old Indian chief that I read to the kids during the hikes which says, ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for,’” he shares. “It basically means it’s up to each of us as individuals to protect the environment. I think that really speaks to the way I try to live my life and run my business.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could time-travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The future. I like the direction we’re going with technology, so I’d love to be able to travel more quickly and beam from one place to another—like, “Beam me up, Scottie,” you know?

Q: If you could drive any car, what would it be?
A: I would love to drive an Acura NSX. I have a bit of a heavy foot, so I’ve learned to stay away from those fast sports cars, but maybe now I’m mature enough to not put the pedal to the metal.

Q: Ever read a book more than once?
A: I think I’ve read Siddartha by Hermann Hesse four times. I’ve also read The Greatest Game Ever Played a couple of times.

Q: What’s your favorite winery?
A: Either St. Francis or Kenwood Vineyards, because they both make good wines for affordable prices. I’m not into wines that are $65 a bottle.

Q: Who’s your favorite musician?
A: Van Morrison.

Q: What’s your favorite smell?
A: A bakery.

Read more

Understanding Your Vehicle’s Air Filters


ROHNERT PARK — You’re probably aware that your home’s furnace has a filter that keeps your indoor air relatively clean. But did you know there’s a similar situation in your car? In fact, your vehicle likely has not one but two types… Read more

Proper Steps for a Vehicle Inspection


ROHNERT PARK — When taking your vehicle to a shop for a repair or maintenance service, one thing you should expect to receive is a full inspection. However, while most auto shops claim to provide inspections, it’s hard to know how thoroughly… Read more

Avoiding Unnecessary Caliper Replacement


ROHNERT PARK — Why is it that some brake jobs are more expensive than others? In some cases, it’s because an auto repair shop recommends replacing major components of your car’s brake system, such as the calipers. Replacing the calipers… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: What’s in a Vehicle Inspection?

Complete Video Transcription:

ROHNERT PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: Most auto shops claim to provide full vehicle inspections with every service, but what exactly should this entail? Today we’re in… Read more

Dave Proffer is owner of Empire Auto Repair & Smog, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 219-8325 or by email.

Dave Proffer

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Dave Proffer: Going Ashore

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SANTA ROSA — Dreaming of a life at sea, a young Dave Proffer enrolled at the California Maritime Academy to pursue a career in nautical industrial transportation. However, it didn’t take long for him to discover he preferred the comforts of dry land. “You don’t really appreciate land until you don’t see it for five days at a time,” he laughs. “In the end, I decided being out at sea just wasn’t for me.” Fortunately, Dave’s prior experience in auto repair gave him something to fall back on when he returned to shore. “I took auto shop in high school and spent a lot of time fixing cars, so I decided to get back into it on a professional level, and I’ve being enjoying it ever since.”

Today, as owner of Empire Auto Repair & Smog, Dave says one of his favorite parts of the job is surprising customers by radically transforming their vehicles. “I enjoy watching a customer’s reaction when they see their vehicle go from the ‘before’ stage to the ‘after’ stage. Every so often, a car comes in that the owner is ready to give up on, which gives me an opportunity to ‘wow’ them when they return to pick it up.”

Dave currently resides in Santa Rosa, the same town in which he was born and raised. “Having grown up here, I know a lot of people in the area, which is probably my favorite thing about living and working here,” he says. “Not only do I have a lot of longtime friends and customers, my local longevity also helps me get a lot of word-of-mouth referrals.”

Outside of work, Dave spends much of his time in the company of his two teenage sons, Justin and Cody. “We enjoy outdoor activities like camping, riding dirt bikes in the Indian Valley and water skiing at Lake Sonoma. The boys are also involved in martial arts and kickboxing, but I’m getting a little too old for that,” he laughs. At home, Dave can often be found absorbed in his labor of love: restoring a 1968 Pontiac Firebird convertible.

In his life and career, Dave espouses the importance of living life to the fullest. “You’re only here for a short time, so you might as well make the most of it,” he says. “Whatever you’re doing, whether in your professional or personal life, do it to the best of your ability, and don’t do anything halfway.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Dave says he’d get to work on completing his Firebird restoration. “It’s been a slow process because I don’t find a lot of time to work on it, so if I retired tomorrow, I’d commit myself to finishing that car.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A ’68 Chevy Camaro.

Q: If you could drive any car, what would you drive?
A: A Nissan GT-R.

Q: Who’s your favorite actor?
A: Jack Nicholson.

Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
A: There are actually a few, including Craigslist, Facebook and auto repair forums like Identifix.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Music.

Q: What’s your favorite fruit?
A: Watermelon.

Read more

Check Engine Light Tips


SANTA ROSA — Most drivers know to be concerned when their vehicle’s “check engine” light comes on, but few are aware of the potential complexity of the situation. Here are a few tips to help you better understand your “check… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Importance of Proper Fluid Levels

Complete Video Transcription:

SANTA ROSA — Host, Sarah Rutan: In caring for your vehicle, its vital to maintain fluid levels to avoid damage. Today, we're in Santa Rosa… Read more

Dave Erickson is owner of Automotive Excellence, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 652-9793 or by email.

Dave Erickson

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Dave Erickson: Taking the Long Road

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ROHNERT PARK — A lifelong veteran of the automotive industry, Dave Erickson has traveled a long and storied road to arrive at professional success. It all started when he was just a boy. “I grew up on a 100-acre ranch, where we had lots of tractors and other vehicles that needed to be maintained,” he remembers. “My dad was gone a lot for work, so I was the one who had to keep all the equipment running. I pretty much taught myself by reading books and tinkering around from a young age.”

When Dave was a teenager, he took a step further down the road when he got his first proper job. “When I was 16, I got hired as a technician at a Volkswagen repair facility. Later, I became a shop foreman for a Mercedes-Benz dealership. After that, I worked at several different auto shops in the Bay Area before I finally ended up at Automotive Excellence. When the owner, Mike, announced his plans to retire, I saw it as an opportunity to take the next step in my career. My wife, Terri, and I purchased the business from him and became the new owners in 2019.”

Today, Dave says his favorite part of his job is taking care of customers. “I like taking care of people in general, so taking care of customers is a pleasure. It’s very gratifying to see how happy a customer gets when you repair their vehicle for a cost they can afford. People also appreciate the fact that we help them prioritize services so they can budget accordingly and get the work that they need.”

A resident of Santa Rosa, Dave spends his time outside of work on a variety of pastimes. “Terri and I are outdoors people, so we go camping and fishing all over Northern California,” he details. “We also like going for rides up the coast on my ’99 Harley Fat Boy motorcycle.” Additionally, Dave enjoys spending time with his family. “Our son, David Jr., works for us as a technician, and our daughter and her family live with us, so we’re all very close. I enjoy the fact that I get to see my two grandkids every day.”

When asked about a professional philosophy, Dave espouses the importance of integrity. “Be honest and act as if everybody is watching you at all times,” he recommends. “That’s what integrity is all about—doing the right thing even when nobody is looking. Even if some customers don’t appreciate it, there are plenty who do, and in all cases there’s a sense of gratification in knowing you did right by them.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Dave says he’d take a road trip. “I’d pack up my travel trailer and hit every state in this country, just taking in the sights. I’d probably drag my motorcycle along, too—that way, Terri and I could go on rides along the way.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?

A: An early bird. I’m the guy who’s up at 4am, waiting for everyone else to wake up.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?

A: Fig bars.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

A: I would probably go to Germany. As a certified Mercedes-Benz technician, it would be neat to visit the headquarters.

Q: What kinds of books do you like?

A: I’m interested in engineering and the technical aspects of automotive work, so I read a lot of tech books and journals.

Q: Pancakes or waffles?

A: Pancakes.

Read more

Regenerative Braking: A Beneficial Prius Feature


ROHNERT PARK  — If you own a Toyota Prius, make sure you’re taking advantage of all the features it provides. One beneficial feature is regenerative braking, an automotive innovation found in most modern hybrid and electric vehicles. To utilize this feature in… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: A Beneficial Prius Feature

Complete Video Transcription:

ROHNERT PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: Do you own a Toyota Prius? If so, make sure you’re taking advantage of its regenerative braking feature. Today we’re in… Read more




  • ACDelco

  • Unocal 76

  • Acura

  • Honda

  • Hyundai

  • Infiniti

  • Jaguar

  • Conoco/Phillips/76

  • Delphi

  • Kendall

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

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

Agua Caliente
Alexander Valley
Bodega Bay
Boyes Hot Springs
Camp Meeker
Duncans Mills
El Verano
Fetters Hot Springs
Fort Ross
Glen Ellen
Mark West
Monte Rio
Rio Nido
Rohnert Park
Russian River
Russian River Meadows
Salmon Creek
Santa Rosa
Stewarts Point Rancheria
the Geysers
Sea Ranch
Two Rock
Valley Ford
Villa Grande


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/)
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/)
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/)
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/)

Know What You Want
Know What You Want From Sonoma County Auto Repair Shops

Before you start looking for an auto repair shop in Sonoma County, it’s important to pinpoint what you want. If you’re unsatisfied with your current auto repair facility and need a new car mechanic to provide routine maintenance, ask yourself what it is you are unhappy with.

Is it the service you’ve received? The quality of the car repairs? Knowing exactly what you’re dissatisfied with in your previous Sonoma County auto shop will help you find a new auto repair shop that has all the qualities you’re looking for. That’s because 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.

On the other hand, you may be experiencing car problems and need to have your vehicle checked out by a good auto repair shop in Sonoma County right away. If so, it’s in your best interest to take note of exactly what you’re experiencing and when it’s happening before you start your search for an auto mechanic. That way, you’ll be able to gauge each technician’s response and decide which shop is best suited to handle your vehicle repairs. Be able to describe:

  • Do I want a Diamond Certified company that is rated best in quality and backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee?
  • What is the exact problem you’re experiencing? (Vehicle shaking, unusual car sounds, vehicle warning lights, car fluid leaks, etc.)
  • How long has the problem been occurring? Is it intermittent or constant?
  • When does it happen? (Note specific driving conditions, weather, driving maneuvers, etc.)
  • If it’s an unusual sound, where is it coming from?
  • Has your vehicle’s performance decreased?
  • Do you have to add fluids more often than usual?
  • Does the vehicle pull to one side or do you feel vibrations when you drive?
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What To Ask In Person
What to Ask Sonoma County Auto Repair Mechanics in Person

Once you’ve evaluated your reasons for selecting an auto repair shop, the next step is to interview some local shops in Healdsburg, Sonoma, Sebastopol and other areas of Sonoma County. Questions you may want to ask include:

  • How long will it take your auto repair center to complete my automotive repairs?
  • If my vehicle needs additional repairs you cannot do (body work, auto electrical repairs, warranty work), will you coordinate with other Sonoma 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 do you need in order to reach me with updates about my auto repairs?
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  • What To Ask References
    Talk to Previous Auto Repair Customers in Sonoma County

    How can you tell that auto repair facilities in Sonoma County are all they say they are?

    That’s where independent research and scientific surveys come in. All Diamond Certified auto repair shops have undergone a ratings process that most other companies can’t pass. If you want quality from a vehicle repair shop in Sonoma County and the Greater Bay Area, you’ll have confidence when choosing Diamond Certified companies. You can read Diamond Certified reports on all certified companies, including verbatim survey responses. And you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews because all research is performed 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 to get your repairs done right away, it is still a good idea to take a little time to check references. If you do, auto repair shops in Sonoma 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 customers surveyed during the Diamond Certified ratings process. That’s because references are “cherry-picked,” not randomly selected from all customers, so shops are likely just giving you a few satisfied customers to call.

    If you do call on references, specifically ask for a list of their 10 most recent customers (to help avoid them giving you only customers they know were satisfied) and call those references. Ask general questions about their experience with the shop’s personnel as well as specific questions about the car repairs. Questions you might want to ask include:

    • What auto repairs did _(auto repair shop name_) do for you?
    • Were you satisfied with the car repairs from this Sonoma County auto repair shop?
    • If you live in a smaller town such as Bodega, Penngrove, Fulton or Sebastopol or in rural West County, was your auto shop willing to tow your car or truck to their auto repair garage?
    • Were you pleased with the auto repair technicians’ turn-around time?
    • Did the auto repair mechanics and service writers listen to and communicate with you?
    • Do you feel the price was fair for the auto repairs you had done?
    • What did you like best about this particular Sonoma County automotive repair shop?
    • Would you go back to this car repair facility if your vehicle needed additional work?
    • Would you/have you recommend this auto repair garage?
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  • Review Your Options
    Decide on an Auto Repair Service in Sonoma 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, you can feel pressured to choose the nearest auto repair shop in Sonoma County, regardless of whether it’s the one you feel most comfortable with. That’s why it’s a good idea to find a reliable auto repair shop before you need one. Having a working relationship with an automobile repair shop you already trust will give you confidence when you need auto repairs done in a hurry.

    Start by researching and trying out local auto repair shops in Sonoma County when you need preventative maintenance. Get to know the car mechanics and build a working relationship with them so that you’ll know you can trust them with more expensive or unexpected repairs. If possible, go to the same shop for all of your routine maintenance and repairs.That way, the auto mechanics can keep a record of your vehicle repair services, so you aren’t wasting money by having repairs done before they’re needed.

    In order to choose a shop, review the notes you took during phone and in-person interviews with the auto repair shops and determine if one stands out from the rest. Pay attention to the following:

    • Can an auto repair shop in Sonoma County satisfy your requirements for scheduling, auto repairs, part preferences (OEM parts or aftermarket auto parts) and customer service?
    • Does the service writer at the car repair shop communicate clearly and effectively?
    • Is the auto repair shop as devoted to safely getting your car back on the road as you are?
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  • How To Work With
    How to Get Accurate Auto Repair Estimates From Sonoma County Car Mechanics

    Emergency car repairs don’t have to be such a setback. Now that you’ve found a local Sonoma County auto repair shop you trust for regular vehicle maintenance, it will give you peace of mind while dealing with your mechanics even if your repairs are unexpected.

    First, you’ll want to meet with the service writer and explain what the problem is. Use the notes you took so that you’re able to accurately describe the concerns you have and what you’re experiencing. Be as detailed as possible, and don’t let the mechanic or service writer rush you. It’s important to answer their questions and listen to their suggestions and observations. If you don’t understand what the repair shop representative is telling you, ask for an explanation. You deserve to completely comprehend the problem and the solutions.

    All estimates must be provided to you in writing before the work begins. This estimate must include the total estimated cost for all parts and labor and an itemized list of all parts needed and the method of repair. Remember, for your protection, never sign a blank work order.

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

    Sign a Contract with Your Repair Shop for Auto Repair Work
    When you’re satisfied with the information your Sonoma County repair shop has given you, sign the estimate and service agreement. Verify that the repair shop has a phone number where they can reach you at all times while your vehicle is in the shop. They must get your approval for any repairs or additional work, and it can slow down or even stop progress on your repairs if they can’t reach you to get consent for work not listed on the original work order.

    Once they’ve identified the problem or needed repairs, most mechanics in Sonoma County including the larger cities of Santa Rosa, Windsor, Petaluma, Rohnert Park and Healdsburg, will allow you to see the damaged auto parts. Remember, it’s your legal right to have damaged parts returned to you if you ask the car repair shop for them when they’re writing up the service request.

    If the actual repair costs exceed the amount agreed upon on your estimate, the auto repair shop must get your approval before moving ahead with the car repairs. Your approval must be noted on the estimate and the invoice.

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  • Be a Good Customer
    How Can You Be a Good Vehicle Repair Shop Customer?

    It’s the auto repair shop’s responsibility to perform a thorough and complete repair job on your car. But you play a big part in the success of your automobile’s repair, too. Here are a few simple steps you can take to be a good customer when you take your van, minivan, truck or car into an auto repair shop.

    • Be clear and upfront with the auto repair representative. Let them know what the problem is, what outcome you’re expecting from the vehicle repairs and specific ways they can satisfy your expectations.
    • Remember, a friendly smile goes a long way!
    • Before you leave your car, truck or van at an auto repair shop in Sonoma County, restate your expectations and goals, and reiterate to the auto repair technicians your understanding of the agreement. Most problems with auto repair shops occur because of a breakdown in communication. By being clear about the expectations you and the auto repair shop have, you can avoid most conflicts.
    • Ask your service writer if they will call you with updates or if you should call to check on the progress of your vehicle repairs.
    • Be sure your service writer has a phone number where they can reach you at all times while your car or truck is in for car repairs. Your repairs will move along more smoothly if your service writer can reach you for any necessary updates or authorizations for car repair work.
    • When your shop contacts you, return calls promptly to keep the repairs on schedule.
    • Pay for the car repairs promptly.

    Why would you want to be a good customer when visiting an auto repair shop in Sonoma County? Vehicle repair centers 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. Your repairs may very well go smoother and problems may be more easily resolved.

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Check The Work
Verify the Completed Auto Repairs Against Your Written Invoice

When the work is completed, your mechanic is required to give you a written invoice. This must include:

  • The name and physical address of the shop and their auto repair registration number.
  • A list of all work performed, including warranty work done at no charge.
  • An itemized list of all replaced parts. This list must state whether the parts installed were new, used, salvaged, reconditioned, or rebuilt auto parts.
  • The total auto repair cost, including the amount charged for auto repair labor.
  • Any applicable hazardous waste disposal fees and the shop’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) number.
  • Your vehicle’s odometer reading at drop off and pick up, if you asked for the reading before signing the service agreement.

Remember, you’re entitled to have original parts returned to you, but only if you asked for them when you signed the estimate. Your mechanic may not be able to return to you parts that are under warranty as they may need to return them to the supplier, but you still have the right to see them.

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Written Warranties
Protect Your Investment With Written Warranties From Sonoma County Auto Repair Mechanics

Before leaving the auto repair shop, confirm any warranties offered by the repair shop or the parts manufacturer. Not all auto repair shops offer guarantees on their work. But those that do should give you a written warranty document that must detail:

  • The auto repair shop’s name and physical address.
  • What the warranty covers. This should include whether the shop will replace or repair failed parts or give you a refund. Any exclusions must be explicitly stated.
  • Your responsibility in the case of a product failure and what you need to do in order to redeem the warranty.
  • How long the warranty is valid, and whether it expires on a specific day or if it is prorated.
  • If automotive repair shop will transfer warranty coverage to the new owner if you sell the vehicle.
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Top 10 Requests
Common Vehicle Repair Shop Services in Sonoma County

Automotive repair shops in Sonoma County provide all types of maintenance and vehicle repair services. However, some repairs are more common than others. The following are the most familiar requests for local auto repair shops.

Routine Vehicle Maintenance
Also known as a tune-up, routine vehicle maintenance is the regular check-up schedule recommended by vehicle manufacturers. It is usually recommended at 30-, 60-, and 90,000-mile intervals. Routine maintenance usually involves checking and replacing air filters, fuel filters, cabin filters and spark plugs. Most car mechanics in Sonoma County will also check, flush and refill auto fluid and ensure the engine, exhaust and electrical systems are functioning correctly. These routine vehicle maintenance checks allow auto repair mechanics to prevent expensive car repairs by seeing small issues before they become big problems.

Auto Electrical Repair
As vehicles become more computerized and complex, auto electrical repairs become more common. Most auto electrical repairs are required for the alternator, the component that continually charges your battery. Vehicle starter repairs are also common. Experts recommend checking your entire auto electrical system every two years and whenever you experience drivability problems that appear to be electrical in nature.

Automobile Brake Repair

Brake repairs are a common request made of local auto repair mechanics in Rohnert Park, Cotati, Sebastopol and all throughout Sonoma County. This is because brakes wear down as you use them. Most brake repairs are simple replacements of the brake pads, and are relatively inexpensive. Because you rely on them to stop your car on time, brakes should be checked regularly, especially if you experience any of these signs:

  • The brake pedal feels hard when you step on 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 Sonoma 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.

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 Sonoma County that specialize in automotive engine repairs.

Auto Ignition System Repairs
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 Repairs
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 Sonoma County.

Auto Fuel System Repairs
Clogged fuel pumps are a common problem for Sonoma County drivers who regularly run on less than ¼ 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 Hose Repair and Replacement
Vehicle belts and hoses including the drive belt, fan belt, serpentine belt, timing belt, heater hose and fuel hose keep your engine and other vehicle systems running smoothly. Signs that may indicate a problem with belts and hoses include squeaking noises, leaks, warning lights and engine overheating.

Mobile Auto Repair (Mobile Mechanic)

Mobile mechanic shops in Sonoma County are increasingly popular. Instead of having vehicles towed to repair shops, many customers opt to have licensed mechanics come to them. From tune-ups and routine maintenance to auto electrical repairs and belt and hose replacement, mobile mechanics come to your home or place of business by appointment to service your vehicle.

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Glossary Of Terms
Car Repair Glossary

Below are key auto repair terms and descriptions that will help you navigate your way through your auto’s repair from beginning to end in the Sonoma County vehicle repair shop of your choosing.

air filters
A paper or synthetic filter that blocks dust, dirt and debris as air enters the engine.

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

aftermarket auto parts
Auto repair parts not made by the original manufacturer. Aftermarket parts are made to fit and function the same as the original parts, but they’re often less expensive than OEM parts. Some aftermarket auto parts are redesigned to increase performance.

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 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 are general repair garages that do all types of maintenance and service repairs.

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

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

Also known as: AWD

Liquid in the cooling system that dissipates heat. Antifreeze prevents freezing during winter, cools the engine in summer and protects the cooling system from corrosion and rust.

Also known as: coolant, auto coolant, vehicle coolant, liquid coolant

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 isolates exhaust particles and burns them before they leave the tailpipe.

Also known as: cat, catcon

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

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

Also known as: car wishbone, auto double wishbone, vehicle suspension

The largest engine section, the crankcase contains the crankshaft.

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

Also known as: crank

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

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

Also known as: American car repair, American car shops, domestic vehicle repair shops

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

flooded engine
When too much fuel is in the cylinders and makes starting difficult or impossible.

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

foreign auto repair shops
Foreign auto repair shops perform repairs and maintenance on vehicles manufactured by foreign car companies, including some models 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

fuel injection
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)

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

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

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

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

The term used to describe a vehicle that is stationary but running.

Also known as: idling

An auto mechanic is a professional who repairs and maintains vehicles.

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

mobile auto repair
A mechanic who repairs vehicles on-site is considered a mobile auto repair service. Mobile auto repair shops 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.

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.

RPM (Revolutions Per Minute)
The speed at which the engine crankshaft is turning.

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

salvage 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 auto parts, salvage car parts, salvaged parts, used auto parts, replacement parts, used car parts

serpentine belt
Serpentine belts are also called multi-vee or multi-rib belts. They are a long, continuous belt that runs several automotive engine components, indulging the alternator, power steering pump, air pump and water pump.

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

The term for a side-to-side motion that causes a vehicle’s tires and steering wheel to shake.

Also known as: car shaking, vehicle vibrations

sluggish performance
When a vehicle does not accelerate smoothly or quickly enough.

Also known as: auto hesitation, vehicle loss of power

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.

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

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

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.

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Frequently Asked Questions
Auto Repair FAQ for Sonoma County Vehicle Owners

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified auto repair shop?
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 and Helpful Expertise® 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: What rights do I have as a consumer in Sonoma County when it comes to automotive repair?

A: The Automotive Repair Act of 1974 entitles all customers to a written estimate for all repair work, detailed invoices that list work done and parts supplied, and the return of the old auto parts if customers request their return when placing the work order. For more information, visit the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s website.

Q: Is it a good idea to choose an auto repair shop that has certifications?

A: While certifications don’t guarantee you’ll get better repairs or better service at Sonoma County vehicle repair centers, they are often an indicator of how serious an auto repair shop is about satisfying customers and performing reliable repairs. Certifications such as ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) and memberships in automotive service organizations show that the car mechanics have sought and attained a higher level of professionalism.

Q: What are OEM auto parts?

A: OEM parts are made by the same manufacturer that produced the original auto parts in your vehicle. Most automobile manufacturers do not make auto parts, instead they rely on outside companies to design and produce the parts. After a certain time, these OEM parts are available for resale through wholesale distributors. Once available through auto part wholesalers in Sonoma County, OEM parts are often much less expensive than when sold through the dealer.

Q: What are aftermarket auto parts?

A: Aftermarket parts are not produced by the original parts manufacturer, but they 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 auto repair shops in Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Windsor and other areas of Sonoma County use aftermarket parts to lower the price of their repairs, so it’s important to ask your car mechanic what type of parts they’re installing. However, some aftermarket parts have been redesigned to fit or function even better than OEM parts, so your auto repair shop may recommend them as an alternative based on functionality rather than low price.

Q: Is there a reason I should request OEM parts instead of aftermarket auto parts?

A: Because aftermarket parts are often cheaper than OEM parts, some auto repair garages in Sonoma County install them to make car repairs less expensive. However, some aftermarket parts aren’t the same quality as original manufacturer parts, so they can end up costing you money in the long run because you’ll have to repair or replace them sooner. And, if the aftermarket parts don’t fit correctly, they can even cause expensive damage to your vehicle. However, some aftermarket parts are designed to fit and function better than original parts. Your mechanic should be able to explain why they recommend the specific auto parts they do. If it’s to provide cheap auto repairs, you may be better off requesting OEM parts. But if it’s for better performance, aftermarket parts may be a wise choice.

Q: Is there a difference between independent auto repair shops and dealership repair shops in Sonoma County?

A: Where you take your vehicle for maintenance and repairs is a personal decision based on where you feel most comfortable and where your car receives the best repair service. However, there are differences between independent auto repair shops and dealerships located in Petaluma, Healdsburg and the rest of Sonoma County. Local independent repair shops have the freedom to use any brand or quality of parts they choose. They’re also able to install used or salvage parts based on the customers’ preferences. This, along with the fact that they usually have lower hourly rates for car repairs, can mean big savings.

However, dealerships may have an edge when it comes to training on newer makes and models, as their car repair technicians are usually trained in maintenance and repair methods months and even years before those classes are available to independent shops. Many newer cars are also still under warranty, meaning some repairs can be done for free at a dealership. In fact, in some cases, having warranty repairs done at an independent automotive repair shop can void any further warranties.

Q: Is it really important to take my car to a local repair shop for regularly scheduled maintenance? Isn’t that just a way for them to make more money?

A: It may seem that regularly scheduled maintenance is unnecessary, especially when your vehicle is running well. However, it’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to keep your car running and avoid expensive repairs in the future. Your car’s maintenance schedule should be listed in your owner’s manual, and your local Sonoma County auto repair shop can help you decide when your car is due for regular tune-ups and maintenance visits.

Q: Car repairs and routine maintenance are so expensive. Can’t I save money by going to a discount auto repair garage in Sonoma County?

A: While it may look like you’re saving money by going to a cheaper auto repair shop, keep in mind that margins are often tight for auto repairs and there are only a few ways shops can offer prices dramatically lower than the competition’s. They may install used or salvage parts instead of new OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts. They may also hire mechanics that aren’t certified or who are new to auto repair. This might make their rates seem lower in the short term, but you can end up having to replace parts sooner and can even cause lasting damage to your vehicle, costing you much more in repairs down the road. Some auto repair shops have even been known to advertise low hourly rates, but purposely take longer to repair your car, leaving you with a much higher bill than if you would have gone to a shop with more experienced technicians.

For other questions and those that specifically relate to your vehicle, call your auto repair technician.

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