Bottom line: the mechanics are the judge and jury in what may or may not be wrong with you vehicle. I’m one of the many in the back shop, churning through problems and non-problems with impartiality and efficiency. We want to fix your car. This is the partial list of things that can help you, help me, get it right.
Know your vehicle
Don’t think that you should have to know everything about your vehicle but a little knowledge goes a long way in avoiding irritation on both our ends of expectation. In theory, the salesman, if your car is new or new to you, should explain the nuances of each system on your vehicle. You may end up at a raining airport with a trunk that refuses to stay shut because your smart key is stowed in a piece of luggage if he or she fails. Ahhh.. how lovely. We, of course, will take the time to correct the concern if you should come in but, if you are like me, you would rather be doing something else.
Be sure of the problem
A solveable problem is a problem findable. If a noise happened once on Seashell Drive in Orlando while on vacation and hasn’t been heard since, chances are near perfect that nothing will be found. This is especially true on concerns with electrical issues. If the car is not broken at the time of service, we have no way of finding the issue. Sometimes, a problem must get bad enough to be present when you do bring it in. Your best defense against disappointment is great information given to the service writer. Here is where some dealerships fail which brings me to the next topic.
Do be a pest and insist
So you are an observant person and have given in great description and color the exact circumstances in which the problem occurs and you have been handed the repair order to sign for authorization and you notice it says: “Customer states there is a noise in the front”. Insist that the full information is on that repair order. This is very important. The mechanic is only aware of what the ticket includes. If it only happens when turning at parking lot speeds, the ticket should read as such. At the very least, give as much information as you know and then you will not be without power when the explanation at the time of pickup is “My guys couldn’t get it to act up”. Then, you have every right to ask if we duplicated the situation to expose the problem.
Warranty is up? Diagnosis fee??
This may seem ridiculous. The hardest part of a repair for a mechanic is the DIAGNOSIS. Any mechanic can replace parts but few can find the source of problem without significant time invested. This fee gives me time to ensure you aren’t spending money on replacing functioning, non-defective parts. Look at it this way: you can spend one hundred odd dollars and be guaranteed at any reputable shop that what is replaced is the fix to the problem. If not, no guarantee.
Cars are not what they used to be. These machines are filled with mind numbingly complex systems. Schematics often resemble Chicago road maps, filled with diodes to keep traffic going one way, control modules with no manufacturers explanation of it’s functionality directing electrical flow, resulting in a mechanic with a paralyzed, fixed stare with an occasional eye twitch. We’re human like you and we know when you are sitting in the waiting room by the horrible waiting stamp staring up at us from the repair order. Please, for our sake, don’t come in with a grocery list of concerns only to ask the service writer every fifteen minutes if it’s fixed yet. Obsenities are inevitable (in the back shop, of course) and progress slows to a crawl of shame that the mechanics next to us know all too well. We need time to find like fish need water to breath. Give us a fighting chance and take advantage of the loaner car that you are free to pound mercilously through every gear. Don’t worry, it’s under warranty anyway, I’ll fix it. Happy Motoring