Frustrating to many people that need their vehicle repaired, is running into a shop that does not give prices or estimates over the phone. Four things that show you why this is not a bad thing but a good thing.
Determining what is wrong.
When your check engine light comes on you immediately want to know what is going on. Many people go to the auto parts stores because they advertise free scan of your check-engine light. Auto parts advertising gives you the false impression that it could be as easy as replacing your gas cap. While it could be your gas cap, probably not, the scanners used by the parts stores are very basic, they read engine codes and point toward a particular system or part. Auto parts stores want to sell auto parts, so likely it will point toward part replacement. To truly determine what the codes mean, you must visit a shop that has an advanced diagnostic scan tool. These advanced tools can pull up the main codes that the auto parts store can see, but they also pull old or stored codes and the frequency of each code. They have the capability to look closely at individual components of your vehicle to see if they are working correctly. Combine this information with a road test and visual inspection of the vehicle and your shop will have the information necessary to make a proper diagnosis.
When to pay for a Diagnosis?
A lot of shops want to charge a diagnosis fee before they will even look at the vehicle. Shops to look for, provide some level of complimentary inspection before they start to charge you. The fact is that these complimentary vehicle inspections provide diagnosis results a good percentage of the time.
Sometimes the basic information is not enough to pin point the exact cause of a particular issue. If the exact cause cannot be determined through the basic information, it is much better to pay a diagnosis fee rather than to start changing parts looking for what repairs the issue. A diagnosis fee will normally be charged if the technician must take the vehicle through a series of tests to narrow down the possible causes of an issue. Issues that present themselves with engine codes often have layers where an obvious issue must be repaired first to see if there is any underlying conditions. The right shop will walk you through this entire process step by step. Further, look for a shop that will credit the diagnosis back to you if you get the work completed through them.
Here is why price shopping over the phone can be problematic.
There are a lot of shops out there that will be glad to take your money to repair what you think is the issue. Even the app Yelp encourages this process of price shopping. A shop that requires you to bring the car to them to diagnose it for themselves is where you want to go, because they understand that replacing parts that do not need to be replaced is a waste of a customer’s money, does not build the trust of the customer and ultimately does not fix the vehicle. Vehicles are complex with systems that are interrelated and controlled by computers. One failed part can have effects on several seemingly unrelated systems. An engine misfire can feel like a transmission issue. A failed catalytic converter can feel like engine failure. A bad battery terminal connection can act like a bad battery or alternator. Bottom line is if you want to shop the repair around you must have doubts about the first quote, be sure and get a second opinion.
Go to a shop you can trust.
Ask about the warranty. Warranty varies greatly from shop to shop. Look for a shop that has a great warranty one that covers parts and labor. Also ask about warranty coverage area. What if you are traveling and have an issue? Some shops can only warranty their work locally. Look for a shop that is independently owned but part of a national network, like Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission. Warranties through these shops cover parts and labor nationwide.
Look at their reviews and see what other customers are saying. How many reviews do they have and how do they rank. Call them and discuss your vehicle issue with them and get their opinion on what steps are necessary to fix the issue. Inspect the cleanliness and professionalism of their shop, the waiting area, parking lot and staff. Expect to be treated with respect and receive communication that is straight forward, transparent and honest. In the end, going with the cheapest price could cost you more than time and money.