How to Communicate With a Car Repair Shop for Better
Today's cars, light trucks, and sport-utility
vehicles are high-tech marvels with digital
dashboards, oxygen sensors, electronic computers,
unibody construction, and more. They run better,
longer, and more efficiently than models of years
But when it comes to repairs, some things stay the
same. Whatever type of repair facility you
patronize...dealership, service station,
independent garage, specialty shop, or a
national franchise...good communications between
customer and shop are vital.
The following tips should help you along the way:
Do your homework before taking your vehicle in for
repairs or service. Today's technician must understand thousands of pages of technical text. Fortunately, your
required reading is much less.
When you think about it, you know your car better
than anyone else. You drive it every day and know
how it feels and sounds when everything is right.
So don't ignore its warning signals. Use all of your senses to inspect your car frequently. Check for:
Note when the problem occurs.
Unusual sounds, odors, drips, leaks, smoke,
warning lights, gauge readings.
Changes in acceleration, engine performance, gas
mileage, fluid levels.
Worn tires, belts, hoses.
Problems in handling, braking, steering,
Professionally run repair establishments have always recognized the importance of communications in automotive repairs. Once you are at the repair establishment, communicate your findings.
Is it constant or periodic?
When the vehicle is cold or after the engine has
At all speeds? Only under acceleration? During
braking? When shifting?
When did the problem first start?
Stay involved... Ask questions.
Be prepared to describe the symptoms. (In larger
shops you'll probably speak with a service
writer/service manager rather than with the
Carry a written list of the symptoms that you
can give to the technician or service manager.
Resist the temptation to suggest a specific
course of repair. Just as you would with your
physician, tell where it hurts and how long it's
been that way, but let the technician diagnose
and recommend a remedy.
Ask as many questions as you need. 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
National Institute for
AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE EXCELLENCE
13505 Dulles Technology Drive, Suite 2
Herndon, Virginia 20171-3421
Fax: (703) 713-0727