Auto Maintenance – What’s Your Repair Shop Telling You?

Auto maintenance can be a confusing endeavor. The most common questions are what needs to be done, and when – followed by how much? Most remember that oil changes are important, but auto maintenance service intervals differ greatly depending on model and year. Repair shops have an opportunity to help by guiding the car repair customer to follow a service schedule. Few shops actually do this. What they are doing is aiming for quick profit. They do this three ways.

All three ways below are a form of “upselling.” Simply put, you go to your service center for an oil change and they notice your tires are worn so they try to “upsell” you. There’s nothing wrong with this when indeed there is a real need, but the subtler problem is that repair shops are suggesting services and parts that interfere (and often conflict) with the manufacturer’s recommended auto maintenance schedules.

Granted, many service customers don’t actually follow maintenance schedules, but rather than get customers on track by educating and guiding them, service centers upsell air filters, dust filters, wiper blades, tire rotations, flush services, and more.

Here are three common upsell techniques:

1) The Walk-Around: the walk-around is when a service advisor literally walks around your vehicle. They do this to point out any dings/dents/scratches so they’re not blamed for them, but also to look for additional work to sell you. They may notice tire wear, bulbs out, dirty air filters – all the things that get checked during regularly scheduled auto maintenance.

2) The Fast Lane: the fast lane upsell is the latest technique perfected by “quick-lube” service centers. The service advisor will inform you that you’ll receive a complimentary, multi-point inspection during your oil change. Then they’ll review with you what they find. In goes your car for “just an oil change.” 15-20 minutes later out comes the service advisor with a clip board and a list of suggestions. Again, this will be things like tire rotations, wiper blades, air filters, which turn a $29.99 oil change into $60.00, $75.00, $90.00…etc.

3) The Phone Call: we’re all familiar with this call. You drop your car off for a $275 front brake job and you get a call a few hours later that your car desperately needs an additional $900.00 worth of work.

The point here is not to suggest that upselling is wrong, it’s just misguided and aimed at short-term profit. Rather than educate a car repair customer, and get them on track to properly take care of their vehicle, they complicate matters, which ends up costing the customer more.

What you can do: Ask questions! Ask if the service your shop is providing is in-line with manufacturer service intervals, and, if not, why? Ask that they prioritize the need of any upsells. In other words, how important is the work they’re suggesting. A very simple question like “Can it wait until my next service?” reveals a lot.

What do you think? What are your thoughts on auto maintenance?

By Ted

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