When you drop your car off for service, you probably feel a little nervous. It’s not an environment in which you have a high comfort level, much less feel knowledgeable. The whole process impacts not only your transportation needs but also your finances.
So don’t misplay your hand by making mistakes that put you at a further disadvantage. Here are five common errors to avoid when leaving your car for repair.
Don’t Diagnose: That’s what you are paying the technicians to do. Although you may have suspicions about what is wrong with your car as a result of research or a talk with your neighbour, don’t divulge that to the shop. Save that information for the time when they make their diagnosis and see if it sounds plausible in light of what you know. Once the shop has decided what is wrong with the vehicle, they have taken ownership of the repair process. On the other hand, if you tell the shop what is wrong, you have given the repair facility their first excuse if things don’t work out.
Insist On Simple Language: Don’t be bamboozled by the sea of acronyms that are a major part of the automotive mystique. If EGU, MAP and O2 are not in your regular vocabulary, ask questions and have things explained. The worst thing that can happen is that you will learn something about your car. If you are told that you need a new brake calliper, ask for an explanation of what that part does, why it failed and what the expected life of the replacement is.
Be Specific: Be very specific when explaining the problem with your car. Symptoms should be detailed. Let them know how often the problem occurs, where can sometimes help and the level of intensity. For example, if your car has a leak, your advice to the shop would sound something like this: “My car is leaking something red at the front of the car on the left side. I see a steady drip while the car is running, but it stops when I turn the engine off.”
Establish The Ground Rules: Don’t leave the shop without knowing at what level of cost the management will be contacting you for approval. It’s OK for the regular maintenance items to be pre-approved for convenience sake, but don’t just say “replace the brakes” without establishing guidelines. There are $250 brake jobs and there are $1,200 brake jobs. A statement like “Call me for approval if it’s anything more than just brake pads and rotors.” might work. However, you must also expect to give the facility enough latitude to accurately diagnose your problem.
Be Contactable: Nothing is more aggravating to the workshop than not being able to get on with the job. A service centre is a pressure packed environment in which many pieces of a puzzle need to come together for you to be able to pick up your car at the end of the day. The day’s events include diagnosis, approval, parts removal, parts acquisition, parts replacement and road test. This assumes that everything works the first time. The second step in the process is the customer’s responsibility and nothing can proceed without your OK, so try to make sure you are contactable.
Your comfort level with car servicing may hover somewhere close to that of a visit to the dentist. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can however maximise your chances of getting what you need and what you paid for.