The majority of people that are in need of auto repairs don’t have a clue what’s wrong with the vehicle. Most of the time, it’s difficult to know what’s wrong with a vehicle until the auto technician has a chance to diagnose the problem.
There are two steps to be taken to get the best prices for auto repairs. The first step is done before the vehicle is taken to the auto repair shop. The second step is performed after the diagnosis is made to the vehicle.
Step One – Before the Vehicle’s Taken to the Auto Repair Shop
When taking a car to an auto repair shop, the service advisor will usually advise the customer that there will be a diagnosis charge. The diagnosis charge can very widely from one auto repair shop to another. Call a few local shops and find out what they charge to diagnose the problem. Here are a few things to ask an auto repair shop to help find the best bargain.
How much will it cost to diagnose the problem (state problem)?
What is the shops hourly labor rate?
Are there any other miscellaneous charges like shop supplies or hazardous waste?
Are the technicians ASE Certified?
What is the warranty on the repairs and is parts and labor covered?
After a few local shops have been contacted, compare notes and pick the best value. Don’t just look at price alone. Going to the auto repair shop with the lowest prices that doesn’t stand behind their work, could end up costing more in the long run.
Step Two – After the Vehicle’s Been Diagnosed by the Auto Repair Shop
Once the cars been diagnosed, the service advisor will let the customer know what the repairs will cost. Ask the service advisor for a breakdown of what the repair entails. Ask for an itemized list of each part along with the price for each part that needs to be replaced. Find out how much the labor will cost to replace each part on the itemized list.
After the repair costs are itemized, call a few local auto repair shops. Ask if they can do any better on the price to repair the vehicle. If better pricing is found at another repair shop, go back to the shop that diagnosed the vehicle and see if they’ll match the prices. If they can’t at least match the prices, let them know that the vehicle will be taken out of their shop and repaired elsewhere. Chances are good that the original auto repair shop will at least meet the prices.
If inexpensive routine vehicle maintenance is needed, shop around at some local auto repair shops beforehand. Following these simple procedures before and after the vehicle is taken to the repair shop can help to save some substantial money.
How to Receive Good Automotive Service
When a car is brought in for service, there are certain things the customer can do to ensure that the repair is performed to their satisfaction, whether they are paying for the repair or the repair is under warranty.
Proper Description of the Problem
Dealership personnel often refer to the process of diagnosing problems with cars and making the fix as “complaint, cause, and repair.” Complaint is the initial problem, for example, the customer is feeling a pulsation in the brake pedal while stopping. The cause would be what’s causing that sensation–in this case, a warped brake rotor. The repair in this case would be to resurface the rotor.
Cause, complaint, and repair needs to be documented on warranty claims, in order for the manufacturer to approve the claim. If it’s not properly documented by the service advisor, the claim may be denied, as the manufacturer may be suspicious of a fraudulent warranty claim.
Customers can make it easier for technicians and service advisors to diagnose problems with their cars in several ways. One way is to take a test drive with either the technician or service advisor riding along or driving. Being as specific as possible about the problem is also a must. Taking notes on when or how a problem occurs can be very helpful.
Diagnosis and Diagnostic Fees
Many customers are surprised to find themselves being asked to pay a “diagnostic fee” for repairs that seemingly would be covered under warranty. The reason that dealerships and independent shops sometimes charge this fee is in order to cover the technician’s diagnostic time in case the repair is found to be something that cannot be covered under warranty.
In most cases, the fee will not be charged if the repair is warrantable. In order to build goodwill, most shops probably wouldn’t charge the customer, even if it turned out that the repair was unwarrantable. Sometimes, the diagnostic fee is used simply to discourage customers from wasting the shop’s time.
Unwarrantable Conditions in Factory Warranties
Even though a car may under the factory warranty, some conditions won’t be covered. For example, thanks to on-board diagnostics, a car’s check engine light can come on whenever the computer diagnoses a fault code with the engine or emissions system.
A fault code can be caused by not tightening the gas cap enough after refueling. Correctly tightening–and occasionally replacing–the gas cap will solve this problem, but most manufacturers won’t pay for this. Usually, dealers will eat the cost, to build goodwill with their customers, but this is generally not a warrantable repair.
Other problems that aren’t warrantable include damage inflicted by the customer and normal wear and tear items. It’s important to read any fine print included with a warranty before taking a car in for service.
The Final Test Drive – Post Repair Maintenance Check
One way to make sure the car is repaired correctly is to test drive the car with the technician or service advisor. Looking closely at the repair order while picking the car up can also help make sure the problem is solved.
In the end, communication is the key to getting good car repair. Knowing what to expect–and how to talk to the service personnel–can save time and money in the end.
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