What Are the Ethics of Car Repair?

The Ethics of Car Repair

The ethical relationship is about trust.

Trade and professional associations serve an important function within numerous industries. It’s a networking and business development space; but also a platform for accountability, continuing education, mentoring, and direct access to experts.


Any organization can be a context in which corruption becomes systematized, so these entities are imperfect. There is a lot of diversity among associations – ranging from ones that have more scientific or knowledge-seeking emphases (e.g., Botanical Society of America, American Sociological Association, American Psychological Association) to ones that are more specifically based on exchanging business practices and ideas (Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Diving Equipment and Marketing Association, and Specialty Wine Retailers Association, etc.).


The best of these types of bodies make developing ethics and accountability central to their missions. A great example from the field of car repair is the American Service Association (ASA). Let’s go through some of the objectives or action items listed within the ASA’s Code of Ethics.


Related: Why Care About Your Customers?


To be clear, these ethical parameters are to some extent simply an expansion of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”; and these bodies do not hold the trademark on polite, conscientious, professional, friendly, and forthright behavior. Our shop doesn’t even belong to this group, or the one mentioned in the below section (a technician certification program). However, it’s helpful as a framework to discuss what matters to us.


  • 15 action items from ASA’s Code of Ethics
  • 8 statements from the ASE-Certified Technician’s Code of Ethics
  • FAQ: Customer gains from an ethical auto mechanic
  • Your own ethical mechanic


15 action items from ASA’s Code of Ethics


Here are the ethical objectives – really vows or agreed on terms – presented by the ASA:


  1. To perform car repair at a reasonable price that is not inflated.
  2. To only get parts and other supplies from vendors with established credibility.
  3. To hire the most proficient mechanics available. (For an independent shop such as ours, that means a technician who can be trusted to make the right decision for repair of a broad range of brands – Audi, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Lexus, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, etc.).
  4. To provide an invoice that labels all parts and labor transparently, indicating when the components are second-hand or refurbished. Any part that is taken out of the car should be made available for customer inspection as requested.
  5. To deliver services based on an ethos of responsibility to each individual relationship.
  6. To suggest changes that should be made and any maintenance that might be helpful – advising the customer, on the basis of their best interests, what represents a less urgent preventive step and what would resolve any current issues.
  7. To give a repair estimate to the customer. (We will add that the estimate should be an accurate gauge of the outcome you expect for the job.)
  8. To post or provide copies of all service and part warranties.
  9. To get full authorization from customers for any actions taken on the car.
  10. To make the customer aware as quickly as possible whenever there are delays and work cannot be performed within the timeframe initially established.
  11. To store all customer service paperwork for a minimum of 12 months.
  12. To be extremely conscientiousness and aware of the fact that the automobile is the property of the customer and should be handled with care.
  13. To establish a smooth process through which you justly resolve complaints made by those who entrust you with their business.
  14. To be accommodating with any consumer complaint entities that act as third-party advocates of any frustrated (and perhaps legitimately, though unintentionally, wronged) customers.
  15. To meet and exceed the most stringent auto repair industry standards and consumer expectations for business practices, perpetually reviewing and revising in order to remove all inappropriate, inept, or fraudulent activity.


8 statements from the ASE-Certified Technician’s Code of Ethics


Everyone can probably agree that the above guidelines suggest strong integrity from a car mechanic shop. However, beyond the level of the organization, it is interesting to discuss car mechanic ethics at the level of the individual technician. The National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence’s ASE-Certified Technician’s Code of Ethics focuses in that direction. Here are the 8 statements that are accepted and affirmed by those who sign the code:


  1. To proceed with excellence in all automotive service tasks.
  2. To continue to become increasingly educated on the field, staying abreast of innovations – and becoming more highly skilled and knowledgeable as you go.
  3. To limit any materials used to manufacturer-approved ones.
  4. To limit any suggestions made to customers, only advising repair and maintenance work that their car truly needs.
  5. To show the same care for the automobile as you would if it belonged to you.
  6. To try to rectify whatever accidental errors by another technician might occur in a manner that is not aimed at hurting their credibility.
  7. To abide by a core principle of service integrity – which entails striving for a win-win-win to meet the best interests of all parties: car owner, auto repair shop, and you as the individual mechanic or technician.


FAQ: Customer gains from an ethical auto mechanic


The above gives you a sense of the basic auto repair shop and technician ethics. Beyond just looking at the parameters, it helps to get a sense of why they are important for the customer. Here are answers to frequently asked questions on the topic:


  • Q: How do ethics impact car mechanic parts and labor?


A: Strong mechanics will either have signed a code of conduct or have a personal standard that they will perform repairs through proven methods and with components that have credibility through their production by a brand/firm that also embraces high standards. Consumers expect that when a repair or replacement of vehicle parts is conducted, the price will fairly reflect the amount of work performed without any price inflation.


Many car owners do not have the skills or environment in which to perform complex service tasks on their cars – and sometimes opt to save time and leverage professional care for simple maintenance activities that protect their automobiles. Anyone who has these needs should be able to confidently go to a mechanic, expecting an ethical framework that does not involve either swindling or price-gouging.


  • Q: What is an ethical approach to auto repair knowledge?

A: It is unethical to perform service on someone else’s property as a trusted professional when you have not been properly trained. It does not absolutely require a specific degree to become a car mechanic. However, you can get degrees on the topic, such as an associate’s degree in automotive service tech. You can alternately get other training or certificates that demonstrate your aptitude. Certification can be sought in niche areas, such as manual drive train or electrical systems.


Those who do not have these third-party credentials may have an extensive background instead. These credentials should not be understood as necessary for the car repair field of course; it is optional for a firm to establish credibility and officially demonstrate expertise in this manner.


  • Q: How does a mechanic approach customer service ethically?


A: You want to give reliable estimates; test-drive each car before and after service; and otherwise deliver impeccable and robust customer service. You need a system for systematically handling customer complaints. You must safeguard each car, taking every precaution to make sure it is not mistreated or damaged while in your care.


Your own ethical mechanic


Are you looking for ethically grounded, honest auto repair in Boulder? At Independent Motors, 90% of the work we do is repeat business. See our beliefs.