It can be quite difficult to get your car fixed right the first time. Car dealerships and auto repair centers lack qualified technicians. Their systems of operation are inefficient, and their knowledge base and training is usually behind the curve.
Moreover, at a car dealership, the person with whom you’re discussing technical problems (the service advisor) usually has little “in-depth” experience with cars and thus cannot accurately translate your particular issue to the mechanic.
This leads to the frustration, confusion, and disappointment we so often experience with car repair.
Here’s what you can do…
While one option is to find another car dealership or repair shop, it’s rarely convenient. Here’s how you can work better with your repair center so they understand your concern and can fix your automobile right.
Let’s use the example of a vehicle with an intermittent stalling condition. Intermittent issues are very difficult to diagnose even for an experienced technician. In fact, some won’t even bother to investigate until the stall occurs more frequently. While I appreciate this position, having fixed cars for 20 years, it makes for a horrendous customer service experience, and often dangerous driving conditions – a stall in the middle of traffic or an intersection or on the highway puts lives at risk.
With intermittent car issues, many repair shops will simply state they can’t reproduce the problem, and that their hands are tied. They’ll say things like, there are no stored trouble codes in your vehicle’s computer system, or that they have road tested the vehicle and found no problem. This indeed is often the case. However, it leaves you with nothing. Try the following:
- When you schedule your appointment, request that the shop foreman and/or senior technician (or team leader) be the one to diagnose the condition.
- Think about exactly when the condition occurs (e.g., in the rain, on the highway at 60MPH, when you take a turn…etc). You can relay this to the service advisor in a story, rather than technical terms – tech talk is their job. You can say, “every other day, when driving to work on a very bumpy road at approximately 30MPH my car intermittently shuts off”…etc)
- Request that you go for a ride with the service advisor, technician, or service manager so that you can show them exactly what’s happening.
- If your car’s condition is very intermittent, authorize your service center to have the shop foreman drive the vehicle home overnight, if necessary.
- Ask if there are any recalls and/or Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) related to your symptoms. The mechanics should do this, but they often ignore this step.
- Have a car dealership address difficult repairs. They are (arguably) the best equipped, and have access to the most accurate and current information and knowledge base.
- If necessary, ask for the service manager to escalate your concern to the manufacturer representative. These reps have access to the best of the best technicians, as well as in-depth knowledge of TSBs.
- Schedule an appointment with the service manager to let him know what’s going on so he can pay extra attention and ensure the right people are working on your car.
- Make sure that everything that is done (e.g., diagnostic tests, computer scans…etc) is documented with results so that there is a point of reference if diagnostics get more involved, or you have to take it somewhere else.
- Be nice. The car industry is a very negative environment. If you can be calm, pleasant, but firm, you’ll be a breath of fresh air, and get results.
I hope this helps. Please comment with any additional suggestions!