How To Find A Good Car Mechanic – Choosing the Right Shop

Maybe you’re new to the area… or maybe your old shop closed. Whatever the reason, there may come a time when you have to look for a new repair shop. But how do you choose the right one?

How To Pick An Auto Repair Shop

When it comes to trying to find a good car mechanic, it can be a difficult decision. Here are some tips to keep in mind on how to choose the right auto shop:

  1. Start with recommendations from friends and family. See who other people in your neighborhood use.
  2. Once you have a few names, go online and research those shops. Start with their websites. Do they present a professional presence? Do they have relationships with organizations that serve the public, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), American Automobile Association (AAA), or the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA)?
  3. Check customer feedback. Is the majority of their feedback positive? Keep in mind, sometimes you’ll find a negative comment for even the most reliable service provider. But the feedback should be overwhelmingly positive.
  4. Consider a franchise shop. Don’t forget the benefits of doing business with a franchise shop, such as your nearby Cottman. They offer several advantages: To begin with, the franchise has its own standards for honesty, integrity, and technical proficiency that every center must abide by.
  5. Finally, visit the shop. Do they present a professional appearance? Do they greet you with a friendly demeanor? Do they have their technicians’ certifications displayed proudly in their waiting room?

If you can answer “yes” to all these questions, you’ve probably found a reliable, honest, and capable shop. Take your car there with confidence.

Quality Auto Service Center

When it comes to customer service, Cottman takes pride in leaving our customers with positive experiences. Cottman’s corporate office keeps a close watch on their franchisees. If you have a problem with a Cottman center, the home office will examine the situation on your behalf. And a shop that doesn’t meet their high standards won’t continue to display the Cottman sign for long!

How To Get Your Car Road Trip Ready – Preparing For A Summer

So you’re getting ready to take a big summer road trip; the last thing you want is to find yourself stuck in a strange repair shop, hundreds of miles from home, with out-of-state tags and a stack of suitcases in the back.

So your best bet is to have your car checked and serviced before you head out on the road.

Road Trip Car Checklist

Here is what to check to get your car road trip ready:

  1. Start by reviewing your owners manual; it’ll have a list of all service recommendations based on your car’s mileage. Keep in mind that you’re going to be adding a lot of miles on your trip, so if you’re getting close to a recommended service milestone, now’s the time to take care of it.
  2. Take your car to your local Cottman center and ask for a complete safety check. Explain that you’ll be going on a road trip and want to make sure you don’t have any surprises while you’re gone. They’ll understand exactly what that means.
  3. Have them check all the normal wear items. This will include the tires, brakes, suspension and steering, and motor mounts. At the same time, they should make sure all your lights and wipers are working like new. And they should adjust the tire pressures to compensate for the warmer weather.
  4. If you haven’t had your car’s engine oil changed recently, do it now. And consider using one of the slightly heavier recommended oils; engine oils thin out as they get hotter. You can also consider using a synthetic oil, because they tend to maintain their viscosity through a wider range of temperatures but always use the motor oil weight recommended by the manufacturer of your particular vehicle.
  5. While the technician’s under the hood, you’ll want him to check the hoses and belts, all the fluid levels, and the battery terminals.  If anything else looks iffy, have them check that as well.
  6. Finally, have the technician check the air conditioning system. Doing so will ensure that it’s working right. Don’t forget your comfort: this is a vacation.  You want to relax and be comfortable while driving along on those hot summer days.

A few simple checks can make the difference between a memorable summer vacation and a nightmare you just can’t forget.

Outstanding Franchisees Honored By Cottman Transmission And Total Auto Care

Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care, the transmission and auto repair brand that services almost any make or model vehicle, foreign or domestic, recently recognized several outstanding franchisees and employees at its annual convention in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Dedicated Franchisees

“These dedicated people represent the best of the best,” said Cottman President Randy Wright, recognizing franchisees, managers, and technicians from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, Colorado, Oregon, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, Virginia, Illinois, Florida, and South Carolina.

Ozzie Bombaro, the owner of the Cottman franchise in Woodbury Heights, NJ, and part owner of the center in Lansdale, PA, received the President’s Award for Excellence. “Ozzie has demonstrated integrity, honesty, loyalty, success, courage, diligence and trustworthiness during his outstanding tenure with Cottman,“ said Wright. “This award recognizes him as the standard by which all others shall be measured.”

Cottman Center Awards

The Cottman Man Award, given to the franchise with the highest gross sales for the previous year, went for the second consecutive year to brothers and partners Randy and Rusty Cato, who operate the Cottman center on Erhardt Blvd. in New Orleans, as well as centers in Gretna, LA and La Place, LA.

The Founders Award, named for the Cottman founders, was presented to Rick White, Cottman of Raleigh, NC. The award is given to an individual who has overcome adversity. Rick has been a Cottman man since 1997, when he opened his first center in Durham, NC. He took over his current shop in Raleigh in 2000 and has built the business steadily to one of the top ten centers within the network. A large percentage of his business comes from repeat customers and referrals, which he prides himself on consistently giving the best service to his customers.

Jim Dietvorst, Cottman of Denver and Cottman of Wheat Ridge, was named Person of the Year. He opened his first Cottman center in Denver 12 years ago and 6 years later added a second in nearby Wheat Ridge, CO. In addition to consistently being among the chain’s best performers, the proud Navy veteran works hard to give back to the community. Jim and his workers participate in “extreme community makeovers” where volunteers go into a neighborhood and help with exterior clean-ups and painting, and they also support a local women’s shelter, a youth anti-gang program, and the local food bank.

Mike Morrison, Cottman of Spartanburg, SC, was named The Transmission Physician. The winner of this award is Cottman’s representative to the world “I AM COTTMAN!” Successful in their own center, always there to help their fellow Cottman owners, and have an outstanding relationship with their own customers.

Greg Hulce in Cottman of Louisville was named Manager of the Year, one of the chain’s highest honors. Hulce exemplifies the highest standards in professionalism, dedication, and sales.

The Top National Account Development award is being given to 2 outstanding franchisees, Jim Harrington in Cottman of Mauldin, SC, and Bob and Cindy Cowie in Cottman of Louisville, KY. This honor is awarded for being proactive owners that work hard to acquire these types of accounts, and for striving to make national account customers satisfied and keep them coming back on a regular basis.

The Top Business to Business Customer Development award was given to 3 Cottman franchises that have shown a strong commitment and ability to develop and nurture these types of accounts. In the past year, they have added new business while maintaining existing accounts. The franchisees given this award are Jim Dietvorst in Cottman of Denver/Wheat Ridge, CO, Rick White in Cottman of Raleigh, NC, and Don Lenartz in Cottman of Grand Rapids, MI.

The Technical Proficiency Award is given to those technicians who have shown an exceptional technical knowledge of the automotive industry. This year it was awarded to David Earp, Cottman of Trenton, NJ, and Ted Reinert, Cottman of Woodbury Heights, NJ.

Fourteen Cottman centers were honored for providing a consistently outstanding level of customer service. They are Cottman of Denver and Cottman of Wheat Ridge in Colorado; Cottman of Trenton in New Jersey; Cottman of West Mifflin in Pennsylvania; Cottman of Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania; Cottman of Beaverton in Oregon; Cottman of Racine in Wisconsin; Cottman of Grand Rapids in Michigan; Cottman of The Woodlands in Texas; Cottman of Richmond in Virginia; Cottman of Gladstone in Missouri; Cottman of Mundelein in Illinois; Cottman of Fern Park in Florida and Cottman of Vancouver in Washington.

“It takes incredible dedication and hard work, coupled with leadership and management skills and a true sense of community service to be successful in this business,” said Wright. “The recipients of these awards are outstanding examples of what is good about the service industry and the core values that make Cottman a leader in its field. They are truly their neighborhood Cottman Man within the respective communities.”

Fresh and Cool This Summer

Did you know that manufacturers recommend checking your Climate Control Air Conditioning systems every two years to help keep your family cool? This usually means evacuating the refrigerant gas, replacing the lubricating oil, and carrying out a system leak test.

Over time the air conditioning gases escape causing the engine to vibrate, piping to move and rubber rings to expand and contract, resulting in leakage. This worsens if the air-con is not used during the winter months as with no oil passing through the system, the small rubber “O” ring seals can dry out resulting in increased leakage and a gradual deterioration in performance.

See the latest AutoFacts video to learn how your car’s air conditioning system works.

If your car air conditioner isn’t running efficiently, needs a recharge, or you haven’t had it serviced for a long time, now is your moment. Go ahead, book a Cottman car air conditioning service today*.

Did you know the state of your air conditioning system doesn’t just impact the temperature of your car?  If you are experiencing bad smells coming from the air ventilation system, this may be caused by a build-up of bacteria. As your car ages, or when the air conditioning systems are used infrequently, bacteria, micro-organisms, mould and fungus start growing behind the dash panel on the evaporator causing some very unpleasant odors which can be harmful to your family.  Thankfully, it’s good to know that cleaning your system is an easy and inexpensive process at your local Cottman Transmissions & Total Auto Care center.

You can also find out more about air conditioning systems here

Steering You Right

Most cars these days are fitted with power steering, which essentially means that a pump assists with the steering to make it easier to turn the wheels, even when the car is stationary.  The steering rack is connected to the front wheels and it’s the rack that allows the car to turn corners. This sound simple in practice, however it is a bit more complex and the power steering system needs to be checked regularly to ensure it is working properly.

The largest cause of failure in this system is a worn power steering pump which will not only operate ineffectively, but they can also contaminate the steering hydraulics with metal particles. These are the most likely cause of damage to components in the system such as damaged fluid seals, sticky valves and scored shafts and power bores.

Leaking hydraulic pipes that drive the steering pump can also be an issue and need checking and from time to time, or replacing, as part of your regular service. You can learn more about your power steering system by viewing our new videos.

If you have any concerns with your power steering call your local Cottman Transmissions & Total Auto Care today.

Get Your Bearings Right

If you want to keep your motor running without heat or friction developing you really need to get your bearings right.

So, what are wheel bearings and why are they important?

Like all moving parts on a car, bearings are subject wear and tear. You may have heard the term ‘pack the bearings’ which means packing the bearings with grease to keep them moving freely.

As some bearings are in sealed units, when it comes time to change them the whole unit is replaced.

One of the bearings subject to a lot of wear are the wheel bearings which are positioned in the hub which the wheel is bolted to.

If a wheel bearing starts to wear there will be free play in the wheel and if not replaced it will eventually collapse. The good news is, when you bring your car into your Cottman Transmissions & Total Auto Care service center for a service, your bearings are inspected as part of their 65 point safety check.

View our latest AutoFact video, it will help you get your bearings on this subject.

Wheel Bearings aren’t just important in your car, the bearings in your caravan, camper and trailer also need regular attention.

Learn more about regular servicing on these vehicles and find one of our specialists.

April Is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Distracted driving, especially among young people, has become recognized by safety experts and the public as one of the biggest risks on our roads and highways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has designated April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and police agencies throughout the U.S. will be extra vigilant by enforcing laws that prohibit texting and use of cell phones while driving, under the banner of the “U Drive, U Text, U Pay” campaign.

Distracted Driving Statistics

“Although texting and talking on cell phones gets the major public attention, there are other causes of distraction that can divert a driver’s attention from the road,” said Randy Wright, President of Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care, a nationwide chain of franchised total auto repair centers. One of the biggest causes of distraction, especially for new teen drivers, is having other teens in the car, he noted.

A recently-released AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study shows 15 percent of distraction-related teen driver crashes involved interaction with one or more passengers. That’s a greater frequency than cell phone use, which was cited in 12 percent of teen crashes.

NHTSA statistics show crashes are more common among young drivers than any other age group. Nationwide, one in four crash fatalities involves someone 16 to 24 years old, which is nearly twice as high as other age groups. Traffic crashes continue to be the biggest cause of teen deaths, with more than 3,000 teens killed every year on roads and highways in the U.S.

NHTSA reports that 10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash — the largest proportion of all age groups.

In addition to cell phone use, distractions while driving can include eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, using a navigation system, watching a video and adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player.

NHTSA has a wealth of information about distraction and teen driving at

Driving Safety Videos

Some excellent videos on distracted driving, including one called “Generation tXt,” are available for free download from The National Road Safety Foundation at

Car Maintenance Tips – Car Care Council Offers 75 Page Guide

April is National Car Care Month and the experts at Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care, a nationwide chain that services almost any make or model vehicle, foreign or domestic, offer some simple tips to keep your car in good shape for the spring and summer peak driving season.

Car Maintenance Tips

With spring, in most areas, comes rain – the so-called April showers that bring May flowers. Those showers also can create hazardous driving conditions like wet, slick roads. It is important to make sure your car’s tires, brakes and windshield wipers are ready for the rain. It’s also a good time to check the windshield wiper fluid to be sure it’s full.

In most areas, winter weather is rough on tires and the suspension system, so an important part of the spring checkup could include wheel balancing. This will help give a smoother ride and save wear and tear on the tires.

Cottman also recommends a check of all fluids, hoses and the battery as part of spring car care.

“Regular checkups help ensure that your car will remain safe and trouble-free,” said Randy Wright, President of Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care.

Car Care Guide

A comprehensive 75-page Car Care Guide is available free from the Car Care Council.

The updated guide boasts 20 pages of new materials for motorists and is available free, electronically or by printed copy, in English and Spanish. The guide covers major services, 12 component groups within the vehicle, service interval recommendations and more.

To view or order the Car Care Guide online, click on

Cottman Automotive Franchise Development FAQ

FAQ Page

  • What level of education is required to purchase a Cottman Franchise?
    • High School graduate is preferred as a minimum requirement
  • Does Cottman provide a website to all Franchisees?
    • Yes.  Each franchisee has a local website that is developed and specific to that particular area.
  • Is it required to be a mechanic to purchase a Cottman Franchise?
    • No
  • What type of marketing assistance does Cottman provide to the franchise?
    • Cottman provides a complete digital strategy for each franchise on an ongoing basis, which includes but is not limited to business listing optimization, PPC (pay per click), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Mobile advertising, and responsive design local websites, and also offers traditional and yellow page advertising, with continuing support with the input from the owner.
  • Why type of operations training help does Cottman provide?
    • Cottman has in-field training as well as quarterly training at the corporate headquarters in Horsham, Pennsylvania.
  • What is the average income earned by a Cottman Franchisee?
    • Will depend on the commitment of the franchise.  Cottman does not currently make any earnings claims or financial performance representations in its FDD.
  • What is the term of a Cottman Franchise? When does it need to be renewed?
    • 15-year term.  Must be renewed by no later than 90 days before expiration date. There is no charge to renew.
  • Does Cottman sell auto parts needed to run the business?
    • No
  • What is the approval process for an application?
    • Proper financial qualifications, followed by a credit/background check.
  • What are the royalty fees required?
    • 7.5 %
  • Is buying a current Cottman center an option?
    • Yes.  In fact, the only way to be part of this brand is to purchase an existing center that is up for resale, or otherwise a franchise in a market/territory where a prior center may have recently closed, which opportunities are limited in supply.
  • What are the financial requirements?
    • A credit score of 675 or higher, $50k-$75k cash, available within 30 days, or 20% of the sale price. A net worth of 100k or more.

Winter Driving Tips: Keep Car Running Safely In Winter Weather

Winter driving can be treacherous in most parts of the country, with snow, ice and freezing temperatures making roads especially hazardous.

The experts at Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care, a nationwide automotive service and repair network of licensed centers, offer simple tips to keep your car running smoothly and safely during the winter months ahead.

How To Ensure Winter Driving Safety For Your Car

  1. Keep traction in mind. Traction and visibility are major factors to consider in winter, said Joe Josko, regional director for Cottman.  “Too many people neglect their tires, so be sure your tires are safe, with good tread.” He cautions against relying on so-called “high-performance tires” that come with some sporty cars.  “They don’t perform well in heavy rain and snow.” He recommends all-season tires with good tread.
  2. Keep extra salt or sand in the car. Even the best tires can lose traction on ice. The experts at Cottman also recommend keeping a piece of old carpeting in the trunk, so if you get stuck you can place the carpet in front of the drive wheels to give the tires something to grab onto to help get the car moving.
  3. Visibility is crucial, especially in winter weather.  Paul Dintino, a regional director for Cottman, said it’s important to keep the windows clear.  “Replace wiper blades with winter-style blades, which do a better job of keeping the windshield clear,” he suggested.  Refill the washer fluid and keep spare fluid in the car.
  4. Wipe snow and grime from headlights and tail lights. Dintino says that ice and remnants of snow on lights can substantially diminish forward visibility and make it difficult for drivers to see your vehicle.
  5. Check for weak or dead batteries. This is another major winter problem. The Cottman experts recommend a simple load test to be sure the battery has ample power for cold-weather starts.  They also suggest having the battery terminals cleaned to permit maximum power to flow from the battery to the starter.
  6. Anti-freeze should be checked for the winter.  This will protect radiator and engine block from freezing and cracking, which can lead to very costly repair jobs.
  7. Don’t speed and drive extra carefully in winter weather.  Slow down on curves and be vigilant for black ice.

Inclimate Weather Safety

Dintino says advance preparation is a key element in winter driving safety. Seemingly small things like keeping a lock de-icer product in your coat or purse can help keep you from getting locked out. Keep extra sweaters and blankets in the car to keep you warm if you get stranded. Flares can help warn other drivers if you get stuck and can also draw the attention of the police to help you.

The Cottman experts suggest drivers check their owner’s manuals to see what specific steps are recommended for winter care for their vehicle.

“Some advance planning and extra caution can keep your car running safely during tough winter months,” Dintino said.