Care Care Tips from the Professionals at All Time !

How to Describe What is Going On with Your Vehicle

Part I. How to Describe What is Going On with Your Vehicle.

As a customer, you know exactly why your are bringing your vehicle in . . . it is doing something that you do not think it should be doing. These are called symptoms. Symptoms are the only thing you need to describe to the Service Advisor or whoever is writing your Repair Order.

Use your own words and do not worry if the information makes sense or not, that is the technician’s problem. They are trained to deal with all types of symptoms, even weird ones. If you are unsure how to describe something, the Service Advisor should be trained in how to help you get this information on the RO. Most important, use your own words and descriptions about what is happening to your vehicle, you are the expert on your car. Don't assume that the Service Advisor knows more than you do.

However, customers can make this process confusing in three ways. First, do not assume the techs will automatically know what is wrong with your vehicle. Too often, the customer will not give enough detail of the symptoms which can make it hard for the technician to duplicate the symptom. This is worst at car dealership service departments, where the customer assumes they can access a database of information about their car. Though, they can access these databases, the access is limited to the quality of symptoms the customer describes.

Second, do not suggest what you think may be wrong with the vehicle. We train our technicians to not pre-diagnose customer concerns, but only deal with symptoms based on customer descriptions. You can really mess this up by not giving adequate details of your symptoms and keep the tech from being able to duplicate your concerns and repair them.

Last, cooperate with the Service Advisor with hard to describe concerns, like noises, or hard to verify concerns, like driveability or intermittent problems. If they need you to go on a test drive, do it. They need to see how you drive the vehicle to better understand the concern. Don't just pitch them the keys, throw a symptom at them and tell them to call you when it is ready.

Sometimes you may have an intermittent problem, one which only creates symptoms occasionally. This is as frustrating for the service center as it is for you. They need to be able to verify the symptoms to do an accurate repair. To make matters harder, Lemon Laws and manufacturer warranties require that the symptom be verified before a repair is attempted. Make sure your repair concerns and service are described in the manner you want to the technician. A good service advisor will invite you to read the repair order, otherwise you may want to ask.

Bring all Warranty and Service Contract Documentation

Part II: Bring all Warranty and Service Contract Documentation

Many times repairs may be under warranty or a service contract. Keep these documents or copies of them in your car and bring this information when you have repair work done. They have details about what is covered. Do not make any assumptions about what is covered. The biggest mistake the average consumer makes is not reading this information, making assumptions and then getting upset with the service center when the coverage is different than expected.

The biggest problems are with understanding warranty coverage or service contract coverage including rental car plans or deductibles. Warranties and service contracts are very specific about what is covered and not covered.

You may be charged a diagnostic fee under a warranty or service contract until it can be determined if the repairs are covered under the programs. There are many repairs and services not covered under warranty. Oil and filters, brake pad replacement, possibly timing belts and tune-ups are a few examples. The exceptions are carefully outlined in these documents, as required by federal law.

Keep All Your Repair Order Receipts!

Part III. Keep All Your Repair Order Receipts!

It is critical that you keep all repair order receipts. These outline all repairs and services you have received on your vehicle during ownership. These are helpful when working with a manufacturer for concerns out of warranty, tracking warranty repairs, dealing with service contract problems and for your service history, which could be helpful in selling your vehicle for top dollar.

Carefully review the items on the repair order when picking up your vehicle. Notice any uncompleted repairs or special ordered parts, making sure these items are carefully documented as to what will happen next. On special ordered parts, find out who will be contacting who and when.

Problems with the Service Center, Warranty or Service Contract?

Part IV. Problems with the Service Center, Warranty or Service Contract

It is not usual to have problems with service centers. The Better Business Bureau reports that car repair problems are in the top three complaints they receive every year nationwide. However, they also state that 99% of the time the problem was not a service center doing anything illegal or unethical, but poor communications. These include misunderstandings about the cost of services or unauthorized repairs.

The best way to minimize these types of situations is to read all information concerning your repair order, part warranty or vehicle service contact before you have the repair done. Carefully review what is written on the repair order, including any prices for diagnostic fees, towing or car rental allowances. If prices have been discussed, make sure they are recorded on the repair order.

If you feel the automotive repair shop is not giving you the proper service, start with the service manager or the customer relations manager. These folks are usually trained to assist you with service problems, which may include contacting the manufacturer if the repair concern is still under warranty.

However, the most common mistake a customer makes is starting off angry. There is a time for anger, save it for when you need it, otherwise people will not take you seriously.

The best way to help yourself is to present facts. Facts need to come from the repair order and are very important in these matters.

The type of things that will help you get benefits outside of the covered items are:

  • if the vehicle is down for many days, usually more than three days
  • if the vehicle has been in for many different repairs over a short period of time, say two years or less, or the same repair more than twice within the same year
  • if you if you can prove that you were overcharged or unfairly charged for service