The Best Auto Repair Shops in Tampa FL Are the Ones Verified As Safe To Hire
Auto repair shops in Tampa FL bearing The Prime Buyer's Report TOP 10 symbol are those that have exceeded the minimum Florida regulatory standard.
They are the car repair services proven by our independent research to have passed the TOP 10 requirements for value and honesty, carry liability insurance as protection for you the customer, and for whom our staff has called previous customers to verify high satisfaction with them for auto repair in Tampa FL, including tune ups, diagnostics, routine scheduled maintenance, fleet service and more.
Updated February 08, 2019
The Best Auto Repair Shops in Tampa FL Are the Ones Verified As Safe To Hire
The state of Florida doesn't require any state license of auto repair shops in Tampa FL merely a registration with the FDACS (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services), so there's no state standard for competency in auto repair.
So there's no guarantee that any particular car repair shop in Tampa FL is even competent, is doing business ethically, delivering value, or satisfying customers.
This makes it all the more significant that all services for auto repair in Tampa FL which bear The Prime Buyer's Report-TOP 10 symbol have been cleared by our research staff as passing all requirements for Prime Buyer's Report-TOP 10 status such as survey phone calls to their previous customers to verify high satisfaction, verified state registration, verified liability insurance for your protection, sufficient length of time in business, good complaint record, only employees legal to work in the U.S., and more.
The Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act
If the car repair services will cost more than $100, the law requires the auto repair shop to give you the option of:
- Requesting a written estimate,
- Being notified by the auto repair shop if the car repair exceeds an amount you specify, or
- Not requiring a written estimate at all.
You must sign and date one of the above options. Auto repair shops cannot force you to waive your right to an estimate.
When a written auto repair estimate is required, you must be given a copy.
The written estimate should clearly state if the price quoted is for new, used or rebuilt auto parts.
The auto repair shop must get your approval before exceeding the car repair cost by more than $10 or 10%, whichever is greater.
You can cancel the car repair services if they exceed the estimate and the auto repair shop must reassemble the vehicle, unless it is unsafe to drive. The auto repair shop may charge you for reassembly of the vehicle only if you were given notice of that charge on the estimate.
You are entitled by state law to get back any replaced parts if you requested them initially. However, the auto repair shop may charge a fee and, if the parts are under warranty agreement with the manufacturer or distributor, they may not be returned to you.
After auto repair services are completed, the written invoice detailing them must include:
Date and odometer reading.
Description of work.
Labor, parts and other merchandise costs.
Nature of parts (new, used, rebuilt, etc.)
Guarantee, if any.
Registration number from the certificate issued by FDACS identifying the auto repair shop.
Amount Over Written Estimate
If your auto repair bill exceeds the final estimate that you authorized by more than $10 or 10%, whichever is greater, and the auto repair shop refuses to give you your vehicle unless you pay, here is what you can do:
Obtain a copy of the bill from the auto repair shop and file a bond for the amount of the final car repair bill plus storage charges, if any, with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the auto repair shop is located.
The clerk will issue a certificate directing the auto repair shop to release your vehicle. A law enforcement officer will help deliver the certificate to the auto repair shop, if necessary.
The auto repair shop has 60 days to file a lawsuit to recover the bond as payment for the car repair. If the auto repair shop does not sue within 60 days, the clerk will return the bond money to you. The shop, however, can still file suit after release of the bond money.
Local Auto Repair Shops in Tampa FL Perform Many Services
Auto repair shops do everything from routine maintenance including the scheduled maintenance recommended by the manufacturer (30K/60K/90K), diagnostics including the use of sophisticated modern computers, car winterization, major engine overhauls, suspension work and fleet service for local businesses like taxi companies, rental companies, trucking companies, etc.
But some shops are better than others. Some have more investment in the latest diagnostic equipment, have more bays and lifts to reduce waiting time and increase turn around time, higher education and qualification levels of their mechanics. Some have more comprehensive experience and technical capability allowing them to perform all aspects in-house while others may have to send your car out to a specialist for certain aspects of the work.
If your car has started exhibiting symptoms like a lit check engine light, engine stumbling, trouble idling, lack of power, difficulty starting, or a number of related issues, you may need a mechanic who can perform a full auto diagnostic scan to find the exact problem. Most auto repair shops should be able to perform general auto repairs including tune ups, belt replacements, car radiator service and engine hose replacement.
The best car repair services will also be able to do more complicated auto repairs like fuel injection and carburetor service, ignition and battery checks, suspension sales and service, performance add-ons and aftermarket accessory installations, engine overhauls, valve jobs, head gasket replacement, and even full engine replacements.
Check Engine Light / Free Check Engine Light Diagnosis
A trip to the mechanic is often preceded by a check engine light warning. A check engine light can be due to something as simple as a loose gas cap or the need to add oil. But it can also be an indication of a more serious problem that will get worse the longer it goes unattended. Various national chains have advertised a free check engine light diagnosis in Tampa FL.
Bear in mind that free check engine diagnosis probably consists of just a few moments to connect a scanner to your vehicle and get the read out of the trouble codes. The problem with this is that trouble codes are just a starting clue to a technician as to what might be wrong.
Some trouble codes will indicate a failed sensor that hasn't really failed. One of the most common trouble codes indicates a misfire and the easiest suggestion by a shop is start with a tune-up and see if that fixes the problem. Then when it doesn't you've paid for a tune-up you didn't need, and wasted time and money. Another code indicates that a new catalytic converter is needed at $2,000 but might really be just the need for an exhaust gasket or O2 sensor. That's why good, honest mechanics will follow up the engine diagnostic and trouble codes by a test drive and a closer look at the engine.
Another issue is the scanner used for that free check engine light diagnostic. Likely it is done with the OBDII scanner, a low cost generic scanner that can cost as little as $35 but it will not display all the information that the appropriate scanner for your make and model would. A model-specific OE scanner can cost as much as $5,000 so usually only an auto repair shop that regularly services your make and model is likely to use it.
Before undertaking that free check engine light diagnosis, ask if the generic OBDII scanner will be used or one specific to your vehicle and if you will get written documentation rather than a recommendation only. Often, a mere verbal recommendation is a sign they're just guessing at what's wrong, where getting written documentation means they've done what's necessary to know for sure, such as a test drive or using a scanner specific to your car.
The documentation prior to undertaking repair work gives you potential recourse for a refund for that work if the solution proscribed in writing turns out to be wrong, which is usually not the case if you spend for services based on a verbal recommendation.
Electric Car Repair Shops in Tampa FL
Battery electric cars require less maintenance than gas or diesel cars since there are no oil changes, spark plug changes, muffler repairs needed and the engine has fewer moving parts, but there is still a need for electric car repair services. For example the Tesla has a differential gear box with transmission fluid inside that still needs scheduled changing. And electric cars still have air conditioning systems to be recharged, coolant to be replaced, and brake replacement or repairs that will be needed.
EVs (electric vehicles) can also have issues with the batteries, most certainly the eventual need to replace the entire battery pack since nickel-metal-hydride and lithium-ion batteries have a limited lifespan and will eventually become less efficient.
Regularly scheduled maintenance for electric cars is required.
Some auto repair shops in Tampa FL might encourage you to come in for electric car repairs simply because they're eager to take a crack at your car and gain some learning experience, but you don't want your electric car to be their guinea pig. So when choosing an electric car repair shop in Tampa FL make sure they have manufacturer training on electric vehicles and/or that they have serviced or repaired a lot electric cars before yours.
The following tips will also help you to choose and communicate with a local car repair service.With so many different types of cars, trucks and SUVs, auto repair shops can fill many different niches, from BMW repair only to the most affordable for that old get-around car. There are a few basic steps you can take when looking for a place you can be confident about.
Don't wait until you have a car repair emergency. Shop around for good car repair shops and auto mechanics in Tampa FL before you really need them. You'll likely make a better decision when you're not rushed by having to deal immediately with a breakdown or major car repairs, so it pays to do some research ahead of time. Choosing a good auto repair shop with honest mechanics now for regular maintenance is also the best way to avoid major car repairs by keeping your vehicle in top running condition.
Plan ahead. If you can, arrange for a ride before you take your car or truck in for repairs. This way, you won't need to pick a shop just because it's closer to home.
Do a test run with a shop. It's a good idea to work with a car repair shop on small repairs before trusting their mechanics to handle a major car repair. Call ahead and schedule a basic service such as a tune-up. Usually, customers with appointments have priority over walk-ins. This will give you a chance to see how they operate and experience their customer service. Are they busy? Do they get your work done quickly? Are the other customer vehicles in their parking lot the same make or same value as your car or truck? Note how clean and organized the office and shop are. Pay special attention to the attitude of the car mechanics and the staff.
Understand the basics. Mechanics should be able to answer your questions and make time to discuss your concerns. The best auto repair shops in Tampa have professional staff. Make sure they answer your questions and give you the information you need to make a good decision. Some shops specialize in certain makes of car or in certain repairs. It is important to know an auto repair shop is able to work on your car and handle your particular car repairs.
Pricing. If your vehicle is still under warranty, make sure they will honor the warranty. Find out how they price auto repairs-is there a flat rate for each type of repair job or are prices based on parts and labor? Get in writing a detailed estimate and contract before going ahead with any car repairs. But remember-price shouldn't be the only factor. Cheap rates can mean lower standards, cheap knock-off parts or less-experienced mechanics. Look for shops with both fair pricing, experienced repair technicians, and quality parts.
Warranties & Guarantees. Find out if the car repair shop is backed by a national warranty plan, especially if you travel out of the local area frequently in your car. Such national warranty plans typically cover parts and labor on your vehicle anywhere in the country for 12 months or 12,000 miles.
Get it in writing. Policies such as guarantees, labor rates, accepted methods of payment and business hours will be posted in good auto repair shops. You should also be able to get in writing quotes for specific services, detailed estimates and exact warranty coverage for your car's repairs. Keep all paperwork the shop gives you. Even though they keep customer files, it is a good idea to keep your own records.
Discuss any problems. If you are unhappy with the service, give them a chance to make it right. Communication is important, so talk with the owner. The management at good shops will listen to your concerns and work to fix the problem. They have a personal interest in making you happy and keeping your business. Honest auto repair shops in Tampa FL will take responsibility for their work.
Some Auto Repair Shops in Tampa FL Are Much Better Than Others
The Prime Buyer's Report lists these auto repair shops in Tampa FL: Sunpoint Automotive Ruskin FL, Tuffy Auto Service Center Riverview FL, Tampa Auto Service Tampa FL, Larry Cothron's Auto Service Tampa FL, Vortex Motorsport Tampa FL, Bennett's Auto Care Brandon FL. Others car repair shops in Tampa FL that might still be in business include: Autoworks Auto Repair Brandon FL.
Tips About Car Repair Services in Tampa FL
SIGN AN AUTHORIZATION FORM PRIOR TO ANY DIAGNOSIS OR INSPECTION
Ask for a written authorization to sign which authorizes the shop to inspect and diagnose the car problem, and which outlines all costs for this inspection, any additional costs that you will incur if you choose not to have them do the car repairs, and in what state the car will be returned to you (assembled or disassembled). You do this because some auto repair shops will agree to what you think is a free diagnosis, but then when the car has been taken apart, only then do they tell you about an exorbitant charge to have the car reassembled to working order.
GET ESTIMATES IN WRITING, IN DETAIL, EVEN IF THE SHOP ALREADY TOLD YOU
Get the estimate put in writing and detailed, even if the auto repair shop has given it to you verbally in person or on the phone. A written estimate can avoid misunderstandings later, and having it written out in detail could remind you of something to ask, add, or remove that you would have overlooked. You are not troubling the shop by asking them to put it in writing. Any professional repair shop will be used to doing so.
REVIEW THE WRITTEN ESTIMATE THOROUGHLY
Verify that the written estimate includes all charges, i.e. labor, towing, parts, storage, rental car, or any other charge.
GET COMPELTE DETAILS ABOUT THE CAR PARTS
If the work includes replacing parts, make sure the estimate specifies whether the parts are brand new or instead are refurbished, and whether they are OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or not. OEM parts are those made by the company who supplies the parts to the auto maker and which your car came with. Non-OEM parts, often referred to as aftermarket parts, are often cheaper but they will not last as long. That might be okay with you depending on your plans for the car but you deserve to make an informed decision and give your consent either way.
KEEP ONLY ONE POINT OF CONTACT WITH THE CAR REPAIR SHOP
Don't have someone else like your boyfriend, child, or sibling also get involved with the shop during the process of getting an estimate. Dishonest repair shops will use that as an excuse to later say you owe for repairs that other person supposedly gave permission for.
GET A WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION FORM TO SIGN BEFORE ANY WORK BEGINS
Make sure the written authorization form details all charges, states that there are no other charges besides those outlined in the form, and states a date on which the work will be done and your car returned to you. Tell the auto repair shop to state in writing that you are to be given any old parts that were replaced, along with the box the new ones came in. That gives you more assurance that the new part you paid for really was installed. Some car repair shops have been caught defrauding customers by charging for parts that were never installed.
DON'T REFUSE TO PAY THE BILL IN A DISPUTE
It will only make things worse for you. If there's a disagreement with the shop which you can't resolve, don't refuse to pay the bill. They have the legal right to keep your car until you pay them and they can add daily storage charges than can run into the thousands. So pay the bill but put in writing that you don't agree with the charges and are paying under protest. Then pursue a complaint with the Florida State Attorney General's office and/or a civil suit like in small claims court. Don't pay with a check with the intention to cancel the check once you have your car back, since the shop can legally repossess your car as a result.
Research on Car Repair in Tampa FL
Common Auto Repair Terms and Definitions
Active suspensions / active suspension systems - Also called a computer-controlled suspension system. A computerized vehicle system able to control body roll, body pitch, brake dive, acceleration squat and ride height. Suspension systems are controlled by double-acting hydraulic cylinders or solenoids (actuators) mounted at each wheel. Actuators support the vehicle's weight, instead of conventional springs or air springs.
Axle / Front axle / Rear axle - A cross member supporting a vehicle on which one or more wheels are mounted. Can also refer to a pair of wheels on a vehicle.
British Car Repair Shops - Are those that specialize in British car repairs for popular models such as Jaguar and Mini Cooper repair services, and also luxury british cars with Bentley and Rolls Royce repair services. Sporty models like like MG, MGB, and the Triumph are no longer in production but British car repair specialists in Tampa FL are more familiar with car repairs on these British car models than average car repair shops. The same is true for Austin Healey and Aston Martin repairs in Tampa FL.
Check Engine Light - A warning light, usually located on the instrument cluster. When lit, it indicates possible engine problems or system problems that require engine repair or other auto repair services.
Cylinder - The round holes inside an engine block that make space for the pistons.
Cylinder Block - The basic framework of an engine. All other parts and assemblies are installed or attached to the cylinder block.
Cylinder Head - The part of the engine that covers cylinders and pistons.
Detroit Diesel Two-Stroke Engines - A type of engine where air enters the cylinder through cylinder liner ports
Diesel Engine - A compression-ignition engine that runs on diesel fuel. Many popular German auto brands are known for their diesel engines, such as Mercedes Benz and BMW (Bavarian Motor Works). The popularity of diesel engines for German cars and European cars generally has several reasons. A diesel engine is cheaper to run than a gasoline engine, since diesel fuel is less expensive. Next, diesel fuel has 20% more energy per gallon than gas, and almost double that of ethanol. Diesel engine repair shops in Hillsborough County including Mercedes & BMW repair shops in Tampa FL will repair diesel cars, but may also repair diesel trucks and buses, bulldozers, tractors and other large vehicles.
Engine - The device within cars and trucks that burns fuel to produce mechanical power. It converts heat energy into mechanical energy.
Engine Overhaul - To perform engine repairs on an auto that are more than simple repairs but not as extensive as an engine rebuild.
Engine Rebuild - To perform an extensive engine repair including machining, reboring, and honing to factory-stock specifications. This is a much more extensive process than an engine overhaul.
Flooding the Engine - When too much gasoline is metered into an engine for combustion.
Front Suspension - The system that supports the weight of the front of the vehicle. Most cars have an independent front suspension.
Front-Wheel Drive - A drive system that transmits power from the engine through the front wheels. The rear wheels do not power the vehicle.
Gasoline Engine - An engine that runs on gasoline, a liquid blend of hydrocarbons used as automotive fuel and processed from crude oil.
German Car Repair Shops - German auto repair shops in Tampa FL are those that specialize in repairs of German cars such that they have special expertise in repairs for BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Porsche, BMW Mini and others. Being an expert in German car repair often means expertise in diesel car repair services, as well as the greater precision that is often required of German car brands known for being high performance cars. Since the best German auto repair usually means greater experience or even foreign factory training, hourly labor rates for German auto repair are understandably often a little higher than for domestic car repairs. Since parts usually come from Germany, often made with greater precision, part costs can be a little higher too.
Hot Rod Repair Shops - Car repair shops that specialize in hot rod repair in Tampa FL are servicing typically American cars with big engines modified for high speed. These are often older models like Ford, Mercury, Chevy models from the 1920's to 1960's. These can include heavily modified hot rod models like the Ford Model T, Ford Model A, Ford Coupe, Chevy Master Deluxe, Hudson Hornet but also more modern and foreign makes like Volkswagen Beetles or Fiat. Hot rod repair shops in Tampa are familiar with highly modified, large, high performance engines.
Italian Auto Repair Shops - These are Italian car repair services Tampa FL that specialize in Italian cars like Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini, Maserati, Lancia, Fiat, Bugatti, DeTomaso, and others.
Muscle Cars / Muscle Car Repair Shops - American made rear wheel drive cars of the late 1960's to mid 1970's that were 'small' cars (compared to their engines) which came with large powerful V8 engines and sold as everyday cars for regular street use. Common examples still being serviced by muscle car specialists in Tampa are the Plymouth Road Runner, Pontiac GTO, Chevy Chevelle, Dodge Charger, Ford Gran Torino, Oldsmobile 442, Mercury Montego, AMC AMX, Plymouth GTX, AMC Rebel, Chevy Nova, Chevy Malibu, Dodge Demon, Ford Cobra, Plymouth Duster, Oldsmobile Cutlass. These muscle cars were mass-marketed, but the automakers understood that they would attract customers interested in what was essentially a turn-key racing machine. Although sales were modest, they were considered prestige cars for the automakers. Muscle car repair shops in Tampa FL will be very familiar repairing & restoring the Hemi engines and other large V8 engines found in American muscle cars. A sub-set of the muscle cars are known as "pony cars" and include smaller-sized large-engine cars like the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro and Plymouth Barracuda. There are muscle car repair experts in Tampa FL who specialize in Ford Mustang repair, and repair of other pony cars.
Radiator - A heat exchanger that removes heat from the cooling system coolant, containing a vertical-finned or horizontal-finned tubing section connected between two tanks.
Rear-Wheel Drive - Autos powered by the engine through the rear wheels
Turbo Charger Repair (Turbocharger Repair) - A turbochargers purpose is to boost horsepower. A turbo charger should last as long as the engine but it's possible for debris to get into the turbine or compressor. Turbo charger repairs may also be needed if the lubricant is dirty or too low, or if the exhaust gas temperatures from the injection system are too high. There are some turbocharger repair shops and turbo charger repair experts in Tampa who can perform a turbo charger inspection. If turbo charger repair services in Tampa FL cannot repair the turbo, then they can install a new or refurbished turbocharger. While you might attempt turbocharger repairs yourself, you're best off finding an expert in turbo charger repair in Tampa FL.
Winding the Engine - Running the engine at top RPM (Revolutions Per Minute).
Questions to Ask Auto Repair Shops in Tampa FL
If possible, speak with the most senior mechanic there or the owner. Ask the following questions about their abilities, credentials, and experience. Write down their answers.
• How long has this auto repair shop been in business?
• Is there a fee to inspect and diagnose the problem?
• Can they give names and numbers of customers you can call as references? (All auto repair shops bearing the Prime Buyer's Report-TOP 10 symbol have already had their customer references verified by our research staff so you don't have to.)
• How do they charge? Is it a flat fee per type of repair, or based on the number of hours worked?
• Will the put the repair estimate in writing?
• How often do they service your exact car model and make?
• Do they have OE diagnostic scanners specific to your make and model? An OBDII scanner is a low-cost generic scanner that will not show all the possible trouble codes for your specific car. A make/model specific scanner, referred to as an OE scanner (Original Equipment), is specific to a certain make of car. It's more expensive for the shop to own, so not every shop will have one for your car.
• Will they provide a written authorization for you to sign before beginning repairs? Written documentation is their assessment of what work is required. In case they're wrong about the problem, you might be able to get a refund or the additional repair at no cost. Their verbal recommendation on what they think you should do does not provide the same protection for you.
• Have they had other instances of this make and model needing the exact service you're asking about?
• Do they use OEM parts (original equipment manufacturer) or instead, lower quality aftermarket parts, or refurbished auto parts? Those lower quality options are cheaper, but a good shop would only use them after first explaining it as an option and letting you decide on the risk versus the short term cost savings. The best car repair shops use OEM parts. Cheap shops will use low-quality substitute parts without telling you, which is how the shop appears to be cheaper but really isn't.
• Do they have liability insurance that will reimburse you in the event of damage to your car while it's on their property or as a result of repair mistakes? (All shops bearing the Prime Buyer's Report-TOP 10 symbol have already had their insurance verified by our research staff so you don't have to.)
• Will the repairs invalidate or affect your manufacturer's warranty in any way?
• Will they honor your car warranty?
• What kind of written guarantee do they give on their repair work?
• How long will it take to finish your car repairs?
• What action would the car mechanic take personally if this was his car?
When you've chosen the best car repair shop for your needs, make sure it is registered with the State of Florida and has any legally necessary license from Tampa. (All shops bearing the Prime Buyer's Report-TOP 10 symbol have already had their state registration and county license verified by our research staff so you don't have to.)
Resources About Auto Repair in Tampa FL
Licensing & Trade Associations Related to Car Repair in Tampa FL
AAAM Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine www.carcrash.org
AAIA Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association www.aftermarket.org
AASP Alliance Of Automotive Service Providers www.autoserviceproviders.com
ACA Automotive Composites Alliance www.autocomposites.org
ADS Association of Diesel Specialists www.diesel.org
AERA Engine Builders Association www.aera.org
AIAG Automotive Industry Action Group www.aiag.org
ASA Automotive Service Association www.asashop.org
ASA-FL Automotive Service Association of Florida https://www.facebook.com/Automotive-Service-Association-of-Florida-ASA-Florida-1744198785836905/
ASE National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence www.asecert.org
BBB The Better Business Bureau www.bbb.com
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services www.freshfromflorida.com
NARSA National Automotive Radiator Service Association www.narsa.org
NATEF National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation www.natef.org
SAE Society of Automotive Engineers automobile.sae.org
SEMA Specialty Equipment Market Association www.sema.org
Magazines/Media Related to Auto Repair in Tampa FL
Car and Driver
Road & Track
Sport Compact Car
Turbo And High Performance Magazine
Turbo And High Tech Performance
US Auto News
The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Auto Repair in Tampa FL within the following zip codes:
33569, 33527, 33604, 33578, 33558, 33611, 33594, 33568, 33511, 33603, 33575, 33550, 33610, 33592, 33567, 33510, 33602, 33573, 33549, 33609, 33586, 33566, 33509, 33601, 33572, 33548, 33607, 33584, 33565, 33508, 33598, 33571, 33547, 33606, 33583, 33563, 33503, 33596, 33570, 33534, 33605, 33579, 33559, 33595, 33647, 33619, 33681, 33625, 33612, 33689, 33646, 33618, 33679, 33624, 33688, 33637, 33617, 33677, 33623, 33687, 33635, 33616, 33675, 33622, 33685, 33634, 33615, 33674, 33621, 33684, 33629, 33614, 33673, 33620, 33682, 33626, 33613 and 33694
The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Car Repair in Tampa FL within the following cities:
Apollo Beach, Bloomingdale, Brandon, Carrollwood, Cheval, Citrus Park, Fish Hawk, Gibsonton, Keystone, Lake Magdalene, Lutz, Mango, Northdale, Plant City, Riverview, Ruskin, Sun City Center, Tampa, Temple Terrace, Thonotosassa, Town n Country, University, Valrico, Westchase, Carrollwood Village, East Tampa, Lake Fern, Orient Park, Egypt Lake, Leto, Palm River, Clair Mel and Sweetwater Creek