Have a plan for when you see this.
A study by automotive research firm AutoPacific, shows that more Americans are planning to keep their cars on the road longer than they did their previous vehicle. They could be motivated by the economy (probably) or environmental concerns (maybe), but it could also be because cars are simply more dependable overall and don't need to be replaced as often as they were in the past.
Still, all cars need maintenance and most of them will eventually break or need some kind of repair, especially if you are trying to stretch the life of the car. When the Check Engine Light (CEL) goes on, do you know where to take your car? If your car is under warranty, then its a no-brainer - you should take your car to the local dealership. But once the car is out of warranty, where should you have it serviced? Does it make sense to continue taking it to the
stealership dealership? Aren't they too expensive? Is it worth finding an independent repair shop or mechanic? Maybe. Let me try to help.
These are my three top picks for the best Audi service in Austin. I have used all three and have been very happy with my experiences. More importantly, I think these picks represent a range of options that will fit a wide number of people and their individual needs.
Roger Beasley Audi
1. Roger Beasley Audi - Yes, shop rates and part prices tend to be higher at the dealership, but for the extra cost, you get first-class service and amenities. There is covered drop-off and pick-up, so that the rain doesn't muss your suede Tod's. Loaner cars and rentals are available, but for those who want to wait, there is the quattro Cafe, which features a nice, big screen HDTV, Internet access, and free gourmet coffee from a Keurig machine. There is also a playroom for your kids. And of course, if you get bored during a long wait, you can always test drive a car - it's free! The dealership has specially trained service technicians, special Audi tools and diagnostic equipment, and access to the latest factory technical service bulletins and recall information on your car. Also, your car is washed before it is returned to you, which I think is a nice touch. Info: (512) 219-3150, website
2. Northwest Imports - This import repair shop recently showed its support for the local Audi community by co-sponsoring the 2010 Texas Audi Group Statewide Meet. Northwest Imports touts itself as a "dealership alternative" offering the same level of service at a lower price. Before my friends and I began doing most of our own service work, I used to take my car to Northwest imports and I was always left impressed by their thorough work and great customer service. One time, I told the owner, David Wostarek, that I was going to attempt to do the suspension on my car and he photocopied the relevant pages out his shop manuals for me, so that I would have the correct torque specs. That kind of unselfish, friendly help can be hard to find, these days. Bonus points, because they also used to have a poster of an Audi IMSA race car over their counter. Info: (512) 331-7372, website
Open all night
3. Your Garage - That's right, YOUR garage. The dealership might have HDTV and coffee, but I'm guessing your house might have those things and more. And Northwest Imports might claim to have reasonable prices, but nothing saves money like doing the work yourself. Start with simple maintenance chores, like changing the oil and rotating the tires. Learn to change your wiper blades and your air filters. As you become more comfortable with your car, you might want to tackle more intimidating (though not necessarily more difficult) jobs, like changing your brake pads. To get started, join a local or national Audi forum, introduce yourself, and ask for help. Most folks are happy to help people who are trying to take car ownership to the next level. I might have some basic mechanical How-To articles here in the future.
Top Tip: No matter where you go to get your car serviced, if you are happy with your service, ask for the same service writer and service technician each time. The familiarity they develop with your car and the relationship that you develop with them is invaluable for a consistent, positive service experience.
If you have a favorite place to have your Audi serviced, share it with me in the comments. If you agree or disagree with my picks, let me know that, too.