Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Shop Talk: The No. 2 rule of thumb for choosing a vehicle repair shop

Forrest Garrett offers advice in his "Shop Talk" column.

Last month we began discussing my "Ten Rules Of Thumb" to help readers find the best shop for their vehicle repair needs.

In part one we discussed the importance of word of mouth in finding the right shop for you.

Now, it's time for the second rule of thumb: Calling the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).

A quick call to the BAR, or a visit to their Web site at will reveal if a repair facility is currently licensed and if that facility has had past violations.

No repair facility has the right to charge you anything without your prior approval. No repair facility has the right to do any repairs even if they are free without your prior consent. A current license from the BAR and a customer rights and entitlement sign must be visible and in a conspicuous location to be seen easily along with a current city or county license of operation.

An avid motorcycle rider who followed my rules of thumb reports the following findings after calling the BAR: "One shop had a delinquent license, so perhaps they do not have an active repair facility. Yours and others had current valid licenses with no disciplinary actions. I could not find licenses on two other shops. One shop I found interesting is that it is owned by a woman. Don't get me wrong, there nothing wrong with that, I don't want to sound sexist. My wife runs and operates her own business successfully for many years and makes more money than I do, but a woman owning a motorcycle repair business was a surprise. I would like to talk more with this owner and find out why she started her repair business and what her experience and background in the industry is. She may be another Shirley Muldowney or the Motorcycle Hall of Famer Theresa Wallach. This alone I find interesting and unusual and if the owner does come from a motorcycle background than I would find it a plus for that shop."

My comments on “Mr. Rider's” Findings: Good for you for using the sources at hand to find the information to draw your opinion from. As far as a license being delinquent, a shop does not need a BAR license to sell parts but cannot do repair work while their license is in a delinquent status.

There is no reason for a repair facility to have their license in a delinquent status ever. If a shop is changing from a parts and repair facility to strictly retail selling then they must submit a form of

canceled to BAR. If in the case of my shop you have two facilities that merged together, Lakeport Garage / Ironhorse creations at the same address, then in that situation BAR only allows there to be one license permitted at a single address. So I canceled my Ironhorse Creations BAR license and it is the motorcycle retail sales end of the business while Lakeport Garage is the repair facility with the current BAR license.

As far as finding current licenses on businesses, remember you’re looking for it from a California state agency and sometimes their information is slow to get on line. Also if you do not match the name and information of the shop up correctly the Web search can give you a bad or non report of that business.

If one wants to be sure then all one does is makes the simple phone call to Bureau of Automotive Repair at 1-800-952-5210.

Next time: The third rule of thumb and using the Internet.

Forrest Garrett is owner/operator of Ironhorse Creations and Lakeport Garage, family-owned and operated since 1968. E-mail him your questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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