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Old 18th May 2022, 19:14   #1
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Default Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists

This thread is intended for buyers of second hand cars, or those of you who are long term car owners, with cars falling just out of warranty. You have realized that life exists outside authorized service centers, but does not end with your local FNG (Friendly Neighborhood Garage) . Also, I've found that specialists do a better job than jack of all trades workshops (who are most probably going to outsource the work anyway. Of course some workshops will have a mix of different specializations depending on the staff, owner etc.

Please note, picture I've put are from google - and do not constitute any sort of recommendation/endorsement for these places
Please use the Team Bhp Directory ( or web searches (google, justdial etc) to find a place nearby

So without further ado.

1. Plan vanilla workshops - these are the first level of support for any sort of vehicle issues. Most FNG's fall into this category. Use them for
  • General Maintainence (oil changes, filter changes, diagnosis and triage etc.)
  • General Powertrain related issues - Engine, gearbox, clutch etc
  • General Servicing - Body parts making noise, getting stuck, needing lubrication etc
  • Brakes - leaky /weak brakes, hard brakes etc
  • Usually can do basic work for the other categories as well

2.Body Shops/Paint Shops
Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-jayadendlevelingandbodypaintingpazhavangadithiruvananthapuramcarwashingservices18f0ercokm.jpg

Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-jayadendlevelingandbodypaintingpazhavangadithiruvananthapuramcarwashingservicesekeb4mubgp.jpg
Nobody wants to go there, but we all will need to at some point. Go there for
  • Scratches and damage
  • Rust
  • Underbody Coatings
  • Accident related damage
  • Cosmetic upgrades - Repainting etc
Things to look for - Ideally try to find a shop with a paint booth, at least a makeshift shed. Else you will end up with paint defects
Painting tends to be a bit of a commodity item - try to get quotes from different shops

3. Electrical shop
Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-karnatakaautoelectricalworkskadugodibangalorecarrepairandservicesi47jtrzf39.jpg
Go there for
  • Dead Battery, horns, lights
  • Alternator issues (dim lights, tachometer not working, battery not charging)
  • Install aftermarket horns, fog lights etc
  • Starter motor related issues - This is something probably you will not be able to diagnose yourself, but will be told by the general workshop
Some of these shops are battery shops, some are pure AC mechanics who will do only repairs to cars, and then there are larger ones which are authorized service centers for electrical component brands (lucas tvs, valeo etc). Another thing to be aware of is that most battery shops are happy to come to your place if you have a dead battery. If your car dies somewhere because you left the lights on, and need a jump start, it may be faster to call a local electrical shop than wait for your RSA. You may need to pay a few hundred rupees though (or not, if your battery ends up in too bad shape and you end up buying another one from them)

4.AC shop
Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-mastercoolernakulam1rtniy87ps.jpg
Go there if
  • Low AC cooling
  • Ac not working at all or making funny noises

5. Wheel Alignment shop.
Hopefully If you are reading this article, I assume you are aware of the need to do periodical Wheel alignments on your car. a rule of thumb is every 5K, but it can go either way. we have an excellent thread for it - (Everything about Wheel Alignment: Post your queries here)
But some things you should be aware - You don't NEED to do it at the service center. Though its convenient if you are doing a service there anyway and their prices are not outrageous. I tend to stick to MRF T&S (even though I will never buy an MRF Tyre !) because they have hunter machines, which are among the best.
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If you have an MRF Tyredrome in your area, even better. Do remember to get your wheels aligned after any Repairs to the suspension or front steering, or if you have had any catastrophic falls, or if you feel the car pulling to one side (on all different types of roads)

The above are fairly easy to find - all of these are just a google search away, and won't be too far. It helps to know the ones nearest to you, because its often faster/Cheaper to go to the nearest one than your regular workshop

Last edited by greenhorn : 10th June 2022 at 21:46.
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Old 9th June 2022, 23:57   #2
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Default re: Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists

Now we are getting into the realm of specialists.

6.Pump Specialists

Generally if your Fuel pump fails, you are going to get hit with a HUGE estimate. Do not worry, Find out who the OEM is for your pump, check their website/google and find out their nearest authorized service center.
You will also need to go here if your injectors need repairs, or if you get a check engine light which points to your fuel system. There are a whole bunch of OEM's - Bosch, Delphi, Siemens are the more popular ones. It's not just your injectors or pump, your entire fuel subsystem needs to be calibrated correctly to get it running right, and these guys will usually have the right equipment to do it.
Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-unnamed-4.jpg
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if you are looking for a Lucas TVS service center, this is a good place to start

7.TurboCharger Service centers

If you are especially unlucky, you may need to visit one of these places. the small glimmer of hope is if you use a locally manufactured turbocharger.
(Check this pdf for TEL manufactured turbos) . Please note that this is not an exhaustive list - There are plenty of other companies that Make Turbos in India - just that this was the only OEM with a public catalog I was able to access.
Application Catalogue

If yes, you are very lucky. You can get it rebuilt locally. find their nearest service center.
You can find them in the "ASC" section here. Bear in mind that getting a brand new turbo is rare. Usually for older cars, they stock brand new seals and Core, but whole turbo units in stock are usually remanufactured. If your old turbo housing is intact, you are better off getting your old turbo overhauled. Finding these shops tend to be hard as they are few and far in between, and are usually very small. They will usually not entertain you if you show up there with your car and ask them to take it out and fix it. You'll need to get your current workshop to take it out and give it to them. This is the place i went to. I think its closed now, and even they was very hard to find. they had an old faded board, and was on the first floor of a marriage hall! I couldn't find any pictures on the internet and had to get one from my own archives

Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-24059273_1958793597469616_3275046718517819185_n.jpg

8.Car Upholstery shops
Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-img_2022_06_10_14_40_26.jpeg
You might be thinking - these are the guys who do seat covers, why go there for repairs?
As your car gets older, different bits of fabric start coming out - Door Pad inserts, Roof Liners, Leather bits such as gear bellows etc.
These guys (and not all of them) can fix these things. Some Things you need to consider are - A lot of places which say "auto upholstery" on google search tend to be bike seat specialists. Even the ones that deal with car upholstery are sometimes lazy/not so skilled and will not work on these minor repairs. Calling around often is easier than actually visiting random shops. Sometimes you might even get a reference to the captive upholstery workshop of some car accessories shop. Make sure that you are very clear with the upholstery guy on what fabric he is going to use on your car - I have been burned at least once where the guy decided to do a last minute bait and switch. Also have expectations low. These repairs tend to last 3-4 years depending on your usage. Given the costs, I think that's fair, and your car gets a new set of interiors.

9.ECU Techs
You'll need one of these if you have a check engine light. Usually there is no "there" - The exception is VAG cars where (to me as an outsider) you need to get the software involved even if you need to change a bulb, and their dashboards tend to light up frequently, so Scanning for German cars is a Profitable Niche where some amount of cross functional skills are required to fix issues, so they tend to set up their own facilities. For my Indica, My Workshop has a guy on call who comes, runs his scans, and then provides diagnosis and next steps to my regular workshop (or sometimes they just rent his tools depending on if the senior mechanics are there)
Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-img_2022_06_10_14_43_03.jpeg
Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-img_2022_06_10_14_48_17.jpeg
Every car needs its own set of reading tools etc - and these guys have it all. It's better to go to them via your existing workshop, because they deal in just testing/diagnosis/consultation. The actual work will need to be done by the workshop. If you have a german car, their specialists are easy to find because of the nature of their Target demographic. They'll be active on social media, have a website and plenty of fancy signage. They will sometimes provide Softmodding and Tuning services as well.
10.Engine Rebuiders
Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-img_2022_06_10_14_59_41.jpeg
Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-img_2022_06_10_14_57_58.jpeg
I have not had to go to one of these places yet, and generally this is something that can be done by a local workshop, but if you want prefer getting it done at a professional place, then these are good options. They generally cater to the commercial market and may not be interested in doing smaller engines - I will let those of you with experience share their thoughts on these places

Now a couple of places I WISH we had

A. Automatic Transmission Rebuilders.
In the US, these are everywhere, and getting a transmission rebuilt is a fairly straightforward process. In India however, getting an AT rebuilt is a mess. Heck, getting regular service is complicated. Most bhpians complain about the wrong class of ATF being used etc. There are some dedicated AT Rebuilders in india, but their feedback has been bad, so I will wait for a decent place. Hopefully as AT cars gain marketshare in india, demand for these will go up, and more will open, with some of them being actually competent.

B.Battery Overhaulers -
Again Proper Hybrid adoption in India has been low, (Maruti's "Smart" hybrids are not even close). In the US, outfits have sprung up that overhaul old prius and leaf batteries. Hopefully in another 10 years we will have more of them, so that EV owners of today dont end up with $$$ Battery Replacements

And now a note on a couple of things you *SHOULDNT* overhaul/Reuse
  • Suspension - You may get rebuilt Suspensions at your local scrap place - I wouldnt touch them. You are just asking for trouble
  • Tyres - Buses may Retread their tires, but Passenger car radials - don't even think about it. I don't think the safety tradeoff is worth it
  • Engine oil - Filtering scrap engine oil is now a blooming business. Registered engine oil may look clean, but its nowhere near as effective as even the crappiest new oil
Attached Files
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Last edited by greenhorn : 10th June 2022 at 21:41. Reason: Attachment link
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Old 11th June 2022, 07:33   #3
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Default re: Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th June 2022, 14:27   #4
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Default Re: Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists

The general practitioner, whether it be in medicine or automobile repair, seems to be a gradually disappearing breed. Everyone wants either a specialist, or a corporate hospital / workshop to go to. The dealerships' authorized workshops do employ a lot of 'specialists', and most are trained to repair / service a particular brand / model of car, but troubleshooting anything unusual is not their forte.

The problem begins when an old car has some unusual problem. While an authorized workshop would randomly replace parts while the car is under warranty, and if one replacement doesn't achieve results, replace something else, such a practice becomes prohibitively expensive for the owner of an out-of-warranty car. To reduce costs, they depend on these so-called FNGs, who in turn depend on certain shops that only cater to these FNGs. So the pump, turbocharger, engine, ECU, paint matching etc. shops depend on their FNGs to provide them adequate business.

Here's a shop where they do engine overhauling and turbo repairs, but as a car-owning customer, I would be unable to use their services directly - I cannot dismantle an engine or turbo and take it to them, and refit it back into the car, just because I don't have the tools and facilities.

Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-img_20211016_104718.jpg

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Originally Posted by greenhorn View Post
As your car gets older...
Often, even FNGs do not bother with component level repairs of certain parts - if your alternator isn't working, they advise a new alternator rather than get one of these specialist electricians to open up the unit and replace just the AVR or bearings or the stator. A malfunctioning speedometer often means the FNG asks you to replace the whole unit, and not just a motor inside, such as (Repair of Automotive Meters, Axles, Dampers & ORVMs - Javed (New Delhi)).
Originally Posted by greenhorn View Post
Now a couple of places I WISH we had...
B.Battery Overhaulers -
Battery overhaulers are another category of people whom we don't usually meet as direct customers. Lead acid batteries usually come in sealed cases, and most of us have a use-and-throw approach towards them. When it comes to Li-ion or Ni-MH batteries, the electronics industry does have specialists who will refurbish your laptop battery at roughly half the cost of a new battery. Recently, I had occasion to replace a battery pack on one of my professional instruments. Unfortunately, the original battery was not available immediately, with a wait time of over 3 weeks.

Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists-20220405_205154.jpg

So I got my computer maintenance chap to take it to his trusted batterywala, who replaced the cells, and I had it back the next day, at less than half the cost of the original (that includes the money my computer chap made for picking up and delivering the battery). It has been working as good as new for the last 2 months. Similar cell swapping can well be done for EV batteries, I am sure, except that no one has reported yet about a failed EV battery out of warranty.
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Old 11th June 2022, 16:05   #5
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Default Re: Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists

Very informative article. Thanks for compiling this, we could also have a database of all such specialists available in major cities of each states,I guess all bhpians can help in compilation of this database for their respective cities.
Based on the past experience we have had in getting repairs from them we can even rate them too.such database can be of immense help for long term car owners.
May be an idea worth exploring?
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Old 11th June 2022, 16:23   #6
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Default Re: Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists

Would like to add professional detail shops to the list.

A car detailer will provide anything from simple foam washes to high end forms of paint protection like ceramic coatings and paint protection film (PPF). They will fall under the specialist category, not to be confused with a carwash.
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Old 11th June 2022, 16:47   #7
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Default Re: Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists

A few more that can be added:

1. Automobile glass shops : Windscreens and glasses tend to crack and break. Going to an authorised service centre can be very exorbitant if it's a non insurance job.

2. Car detailers : Interior polish, exterior polish, anti rust coating, car wrapping etc are done by specialised shops now. Many companies like 3M also give franchisees.

3. Lathe Machine Shop : We might not see them but workshops whether authorised or FNGs take their services. Skimming of brake drums, brake discs, flywheel etc. can save lots of money for the customer.

4. Number plate shop : Found a dime a dozen. You might need to replace your car's number plate a few times during it's life cycle.

5. In Car Entertainment Specialised shops : The car's inbuilt music system can develop issues after a few years. Speakers can go bad or some wiring issues here and there. These shops can be much more helpful than authorised service centres.

6. Car Wash Shops : Simple place where they can give a good wash to your car including underbody. They might also vacuum and clean your car's interiors. Authorised Service Centres are heavily loaded and hence they don't give a proper wash. These guys aren't so busy and can give a good wash. Never allow them to wash the engine bay. Just ask them to blow compressed air. I guess days of washing the engine bay with water is now long gone!

7. Auto paint suppliers : Most authorised service centres have inbuilt facility and have to only have shades of the OEM they represent, but FNGs with paint booths don't create the paint plus they deal with multiple brands and hence potentially hundreds of shades! White color of Hyundai and Maruti and different shades for example. Same OEM might have different shades of same colors options as well. FNGs have to get paint from a specialised supplier. It's very important to get the exact shade or else there will be a mismatch and one panel will not match with other. They are experts. If the exact color name and code is not known, they usually ask the FNG to send the fuel filler cap to them and with that they are able to generate exact shade.

Last edited by fazayal : 11th June 2022 at 16:48. Reason: Typo
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Old 13th June 2022, 21:11   #8
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Default Re: Different types of Car workshops - Navigating the specialists

Very interesting thread, thanks for sharing.

If you read my thread about fiddling with cars, you will notice I have a large network of various specialist that help to keep my cars going.

I am a big believer in small service centres, who specialise in one brand only, sometimes even only one type of car. E.g. Mercedes W123 or Jaguar X300/308.

As these cars get older the main stream dealers just donít have the knowledge and the competence anymore. Such brand/model specialists are a Godsend.

Not sure if there are such brand/ model specialists in India? Cars are getting more complex and more often than not require special tooling and scanning equipment beyond what a generalist type of service shop has on offer.

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