Victoria Car & Vehicle Maintenance - Choosing & Using Mechanics: Getting Better Auto Service
While today's cars, light trucks, and sport-utility vehicles are modern high-tech marvels with digital dashboards, computer-controlled engines, etcetera, and are longer-lasting than ever before, they still require servicing from time to time. There's a reason Ford dealer ships have "service" before "sales" on their signage (and nothing against Ford).
Whatever type of repair facility you choose to use, whether its a dealership, corner service station, independent garage, or a national franchise, good communications between customer and shop help get the right repairs done for the best price.
Read the owner's manual to learn about the vehicle's systems and components. Follow the recommended service schedules. Keep a log of all repairs and service. Do your homework before taking your vehicle in for repairs or service. Know your car, and what feels and sounds right. Don't ignore its warning signals. Everything you notice can help the repair person their work more efficiently and eliminate all the likely problems.
Here are some things to watch for:
- Unusual sounds, odors, drips, leaks, smoke, warning lights, gauge readings.
- Changes in engine performance, acceleration, gas mileage, fluid levels.
- Worn tires, belts, hoses.
- Problems in handling, braking, steering, vibrations.
- Note when the problem occurs:
- Is it constant or periodic?
- Does it happen when the vehicle is cold or after the engine has warmed up?
- Does it happen at all speeds, or specifically when accelerating, braking, or shifting?
- When did the problem first start?
Professionally run repair establishments have always recognized the importance of communications in automotive repairs. Once you are at the repair establishment, communicate your findings.
- Describe the symptom to service manager or the repair technician
- Carry a written list of the symptoms
- Don't suggest a specific repair. Cars today are as complex as your body (and there's as much new, or newly learned, too!) Tell the mechanic (just like you would your doctor) the symptoms and let the technician diagnose and recommend a remedy.
- Stay involved... Ask questions so that you fully understand what is being done. Do not be embarrassed to request lay definitions.
- Don't rush the service writer or technician to make an on-the-spot diagnosis. Ask to be called and apprised of the problem, course of action, and costs before work begins.
- Before you leave, be sure you understand all shop policies regarding labor rates, guarantees, and acceptable methods of payment.
- Leave a telephone number where you can be called.
Up have the right to insist on a written estimate prior to approving the work to be done.