Tough Call

Author: Tony Molla
December 08, 2011    10:47 PM

The Today program did an investigative report on auto repair using a Jeep rigged with a simple A/C relay failure. The dealers came off expensive, while the chain shops faired better. It wasn't a ringing endorsement for the auto repair industry in general.

The lesson for consumers is to ask questions and get a second opinion when faced with a big repair bill. The lesson for shops (dealer, chain or independent) is to make sure your technicians are properly trained, equipped and certified. The larger issue is how do shops balance customer expectations of handling necessary maintenance and repairs, without being perceived as selling services the customer doesn't need? Tough call.

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Dec 27, 2011 [12:51 PM]  -  Dennis
This test by the Today Show is another example of misdirected energy by the press. Sure, some businesses are a little over-the-top with recommendations, but not all. The press should spend its energy finding resources for consumers to use to bridge the technology gap between vehicle ownership and vehicle service centers. The training company I operate offers consumer classes to help bridge these misunderstood vehicle requirements. Consumers are confused about maintenance versus repair. Most do not even understand warranty situations. Bugging a vehicle is not a fair way of testing industry integrity. Most shops, because of owner maintenance neglect, use “Time and Mileage” to make service recommendations. Many shops experience the dreaded, "you worked on it last, so you're responsible for other problems" attitude from customers. What this means to the shop is that some customers develop a false expectation where any unrelated failure in a system serviced previously is going to be repaired by the shop for free. This factor alone causes shops to recommend servicing the entire system along with the needed repair. This adopted strategy closes the unknown gap about the rest of the system. Air conditioning (A/C) should be considered a system! Did the bugged relay cause excessive ampere draw? Did the A/C system go into default mode? Did a high-resistance A/C clutch cause the problem? Did the Body Control Module (BCM) disable the system due to another code being generated by another system? These are some good examples of what a technician thinks about when faced with diagnosing a system that is inoperative. I would strongly suggest that the media seek consumer education resources and share the benefits of becoming knowledgeable about the second largest purchase most people make--their vehicle. Allowing consumers to have no accountability for the care and cost of keeping their ride safe and operating correctly is wrong and in no way an excuse to attack the automotive professional. Thanks for Listening!

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