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Top 10 Tips for Good Auto Repair Service

Recently I took a basic course in auto mechanics so that I could become more wheels-savvy. Plus, I wanted to bond with my teenage son. Hey, I didn't grow up doing wheelies in parking lots or tooling around under the hood, learning car repair. This was all new to me.

Our professor, Vittorio Principe, who owns Vittorio Auto Repair in Bronx, New York, called the owner's manual to our vehicles the "forgotten bible" and used it as our basic auto repair guide. Having previously viewed the owner's manual as an oversized book that was way too complicated, I was delighted to learn that it was both user-friendly and full of valuable information.

Principe, who tunes Ferraris for Michael Schumacher and hosts the Auto Lab audio program, clued me in to what you should (and shouldn't) look for when you need auto repair service. Following, 10 tips to get you started, in no particular order because all are helpful:

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Dog-ear your owner's manual.

Yes, it's your car's bible! Knowing where to find information quickly can help in identifying causes when trouble arises. You may even be able to avoid a trip to the auto mechanic in the first place if you discover that your "problem" stemmed from not understanding your car's controls. Beyond knowing the make and model of your vehicle, it also helps to have the specific trim level on hand for the service technician, as that often identifies the engine size and configuration, transmission and other included features that vary across the model line. Be aware of your exterior paint and interior color codes in case body or upholstery repair is necessary. Keep your vehicle identification number (VIN) available, as this code will likely be required when scheduling service.