CREATING A PARTNERSHIP WITH YOUR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR SHOP
Automotive repair is a 2way street. The majority of auto mechanics are competent and conscientious, says the national director of the AAA-Approved Auto Repair Program. Given the cost of repairs these days, you should expect nothing less.
Still, it is your car, and you have some responsibility in the maintenance process. After all, nobody has a more intimate relationship with your car than you do. Here are some ways you can help your automotive service personnel keep your car in tip top shape.
Decide who you are. Are you the no-news-is-good-news person? Or do you want to know every detail about your car? Either way can be a no win situation for your mechanic. Give the customer a laundry list of things that should be fixed, and the mechanic risks being accused of upselling. Do only what the customer requests, and the mechanic risks an angry customer returning with a car that does not perform properly.
The kind of car owner you are depends on you and your intentions--- whether you plan to drive your car forever or get rid of it next week. Either way, let the shop folks in on your expectations.
CARE—even just a little. If you fail to remove the shrink wrap from the owner’s manual or poke out the warning lights, then you give up the right to be upset with the mechanic when your engine blows up. You should know about the maintenance on your car. That little book in your glove compartment has a lot of information for the vehicle owner. Take a glance at the manual every so often.
TELL ALL—Some owners think if they tell all of their cars maladies or symptoms, the repair shop will be encouraged to run up the bill. Quite the opposite. Shops usually charge for diagnostic time, and you can save money if you are explicit. But don’t diagnose a problem, because you could be wrong.
* Do tell the service writer, for example, if your car stalls or runs rough, if it happens only when it rains. If you forget to mention the rain part, the mechanic may not be able to duplicate the issue. Also, some repairs are elective: if you can’t afford to do everything at once, the service writer can draw up a “to do as your budget allows” list.
BE LOYAL—Find a repair shop you can trust. No matter who you find that you trust, stick with that shop. The shop will get to know you and your car’s idiosyncrasies. They have your car history. By being loyal you may get “freebies” or extra attention. Acknowledge work well done! It will always be appreciated.
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