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RepairPal is Establishing a National Network of the Best Auto Repair Shops

Did you know that April is National Car Care Month?

That means it’s the perfect time to look into SF-based RepairPal, which helps you locate the very best mechanic to help you maintain your car within a fair price range.

Over coffee in a local café recently, RepairPal CEO Art Shaw shared with me some data from a survey by Harris Interactive his company commissioned recently:

  • 66 percent say a car repair shop has ripped them off
  • 76 percent of Millennials think a car repair shop has ripped them off
  • 16 percent of people who own or lease autos name their car
  • 30 percent of Millennials name their car
  • 16 percent think the Internet is a trustworthy source of finding information
  • 38 percent think they cannot trust their mechanic
  • 66 percent think car repair shops charge women more for repairs than men
  • 41 percent say they would rather do their taxes by hand than get their car repaired
  • 75 percent say they have delayed a car repair for some reason (44 percent because they did not have money)
  • 11 percent won’t even take their car in to be repaired
  • 66 percent of women and 56 percent of men say it is sexy if their significant other is knowledgeable about cars

So there's some data.

RepairPal screens auto repair shops for quality, skill, parts, price and customer satisfaction to award them Top Shop status, a designation some 200 shops in 35 states have earned to date.

“There are four components to Top Shop,” Shaw explains. “First is a technical assessment, which is a professional review. Second, unbiased customer satisfaction reviews. Third, the shop has to offer a warranty on its repairs of at least 12 months or 12,000 miles. Fourth, they have to commit to never charging more than what we’ve determined is the fair price for a repair.”

RepairPal started out almost six years ago focusing on what a fair price is for repairs, based on the model, make, and year of a car, the parts involved in the repair, and the zip code where the work is done.

It now provides a fair price range for some 135 of the most common repairs, using data that is licensed by Consumer Reports, NAPA, Cars.com, and AOL Autos.

Repair shops can apply online or call the company to apply for Top Shop status. Shaw says the process takes about two weeks, because the company makes on-site inspections and considers multiple data points when making its determination.

He believes that only a relatively small subset (20-25 percent) of the estimated 80-100,000 repair shops in the country will qualify.

“We are the number one site for auto repair,” Shaw says. “We have 1.2 million active users per month, which is up 70 percent since June 2011.”

The cost of maintaining an auto is one of the major expenses most of us face, and that is even more true now than in the past. That's because people own their cars for an average of 11 years now – as recently as 1998, that average was only 8 years.

Shaw says he believes that’s mostly due to the fact that cars are built better now, and through various regulations most of the clunkers that abounded in the past are now off the road.

Since the average warranty on a new car is only three years, that leaves the vast majority of the responsibility for repairs to the vehicle owner.

RepairPal, with a staff of 25, recently raised a $13 million round of funding led by industry leaders Cars.com and Castrol innoVentures.