Car Repair Complaints About Time, Price, And Quality

July 12, 2010

After watching online news for subjects of note concerning auto repair, I have found out two things conclusively--there’s a lot of fires in auto repair shops and there are lot of dissatisfied car repair customers. There are numerous suggestions about how to reduce garage fires, chief among them would be to advise personnel to not park any vehicles leaking fuel inside a building and never use gasoline to clean auto parts.

As far as the disgruntled customers go, some patterns have emerged. Their complaints usually center around three areas of dissatisfaction, completion time, price and the competence of the repair itself.

How long to expect a job to take is of course a function of the complexity of the repair. The car owner, of course, doesn’t know if a timing belt takes longer to replace than serpentine belt. So the onus is on the shop to produce a reasonable estimation of when they’ll have the car back together based on the intricacy of the operation and the available personnel. The customer should expect to be given the time estimate when he drops the car off although some caveats may apply.

Some repairs require a type of “exploratory surgery” to expose the root problem at which time the final completion time should be able to be established. Other than this example delays should be viewed in the same light as “the dog ate my homework” variety we have all used at one time or another. They may range anywhere from the supplier sent the wrong replacement parts to the air compressor broke down any of which, on a bad day, may actually happen.

The only thing worse than not getting your car back on time is to get it back and have the  invoice be much higher than was estimated. A rule of thumb is to allow for a 10 percent overrun on price. If the bill exceeds this you certainly should expect to be called. Just as the completion time can be dependent upon knowing the full scope of the repair, the price cannot always be ascertained until the technician is “into the job”.  A reputable shop will always notify the customer of anything that might unexpectedly raise the price.

A dealership once had a sort of skybox area that encircled their repair bays. From this vantage point they could keep an eye on the repair activity of their technicians. Attached to a low wall above the shop floor hung a banner that read “Fix It Right, The First Time”. This should be the standard to which you hold your repair shop to. It is not always attainable but it is the goal.

When your repair facility falls short of that goal it is important to determine whether the problem is one of competence or an instance of a very obscure problem in a very complex machine. It happens that a very honest and competent repair person or facility will encounter problems that are extremely difficult to diagnose. If, however, this happens repeatedly to you it may be time to make a change.  

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