AutoMD

Akin to other doctor-themed sites like WebMD, the recently-launched AutoMD wants to make you your own health official, this time overseeing the pain-free running of your car. The site's tools include diagnostic assistance, cost estimates, finding a shop, or DIY repairs with pictorial instruction if you're ready to get dirty.

AutoMD's report, called Advocacy for Repair Shop Fairness, attempts to sort out which cities have the most honest auto repairmen. To compile it, mystery shoppers were sent to 600 repair facilities in the top fifty designated markets. Based on quoted prices for a repair, they evaluated the locations based on three criteria: affordability, price disparity, and shop integrity.

Not surprisingly, smaller metro areas such as Memphis, Tennessee and Jacksonville, Florida took the top slots for fairness, while places like Washington, D.C. and Chicago took some of the worst spots. Albuquerque and Honolulu, though, are also where you'll want to exercise robust skepticism upon visiting a repair shop. Follow the jump for the press release on the report, click the link below to check out the full chart, and good luck out there.

[Source: Auto MD]


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PRESS RELEASE

AutoMD.com™ Ranks Best and Worst Cities for Auto Repair

Car Owner Fears About Unfair Repair Shop Quotes Confirmed
Advocacy Report Measures Affordability, Price Disparity Range and Shop Integrity

Carson, CA – February 24, 2010 – AutoMD.com (www.automd.com), the most comprehensive and unbiased free online auto repair resource, today released its Advocacy for Repair Shop Fairness Report, the first to analyze how the top-50 most populated U.S. cities stack up when it comes to providing consumers with fair auto repair cost estimates. In the report, Memphis ranked as the best city for fairness and consistency of prices quoted in auto repair, while Chicago ranked as the worst.

For the report, AutoMD.com mystery shoppers conducted a fairness check of over 600 shops in the top-50 DMAs* (including a range of dealers, independent shops, and franchises like Pep Boys) by requesting quotes on a typical auto repair job: a front brake replacement job for a Ford Focus. To measure pricing integrity, the mystery shoppers called back two weeks later with an industry standard price estimate. The best and worst list was then calculated based on each city's rankings for three critical factors, weighted equally:

1. Repair Affordability: The average cost-per-job for that city based on prices quoted by repair shops
2. Price Disparity Range: The percentage variance between the lowest price quoted and the highest price quoted in each market
3. Shop Integrity Factor: The percentage of shops that shifted their original quoted price by more than 5% when presented with an industry standard price estimate

"If you are one of the 88% of car owners who feel that they are not getting a fair shake at the repair shop** ... this report shows that you are probably right," said AutoMD.com President Shane Evangelist. "Repair shop quotes in more than half of the cities for the same job had a variance from lowest to highest of over 150% - with over two-thirds of the shops overall changing their price quote when presented with an industry standard price."

Underscoring that few car owners are immune to the challenges of repair shop pricing, Evangelist noted that even in Memphis, the report's top ranked city, there was a 135% price quote disparity - with one in four of the city's repair shops tested changing its quote when presented with an industry standard price.

"With such drastic quote fluctuations within each city -- and a chronic lack of integrity in the actual prices quoted -- consumers clearly need to arm themselves with research before setting foot in the repair shop," continued Evangelist. "The bottom line is that information is power; and, fortunately, car owners now have access to online tools so they can compare local repair shops, establish a local market repair invoice price and make sure that they get a fair deal at the repair shop."

* Designated Market Area
**A recent AutoMD.com survey shows that 88% of car-owners have felt overcharged at the repair shop, with 74% reporting the shop either suggested or charged them for repairs not needed.

About AutoMD
AutoMD.com ™ (www.automd.com), a wholly-owned subsidiary of US Auto Parts Network, Inc., (Nasdaq:PRTS), is the most comprehensive and unbiased free online automotive repair resource designed to empower car owners with the best way to repair their vehicles. Backed by a team of automotive data specialists and certified auto mechanics who are advocates for the car owner, AutoMD.com allows both car owners and DIYers to 1. Diagnose car problems, 2. Know how much auto repairs should cost, 3. Understand the steps needed and the time it should take with How-to Auto Repair guides, and 4. Find the right local auto repair shop at the right price for their issue.

Unlike other repair sites, AutoMD.com does not rely on revenue from repair shops or dealerships, so car owners can rest assured that AutoMD.com repair shop listings are completely unbiased and designed to help car owners choose the best, most affordable shop for their vehicle issue.