Niagara Gazette

Columns

November 21, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: Major auto repairs? Ask a service adviser for options

Niagara Gazette — Too often, during the auto repair process, service advisers do not give customers repair options. Very early in my career I failed to do so and l am thankful I had an excellent mentor that straightened me out. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

Suzie Customer comes into XYZ Auto Repair because her 1998 “Zorch” is making awful noises on acceleration (reminiscent of those sounds at the racetrack when a racer’s engine blew up off shortly after leaving the line … knock-knock-knock-rattle-rattle-rattle). Mel, the mechanic, diagnoses the sound (crankshaft bearings). He gives Suzie a repair quote that’s more than the car is worth. She tells Mel that she can’t afford it, but she needs the car. Can he fix it cheaper? Mel tells Suzie he won’t do it any cheaper, because he can’t guarantee the job would last. He advises her to take the car elsewhere for repairs. Could this situation have been handled differently to help Suzie? Or is she a lost cause?

I used this example because, several years ago, I found myself in such a situation while working at a large shop as the assistant service manager. A single mother in financial dire straits came into the shop with a car that sounded like it had 12 angry trolls banging away with their hammers under the hood. I didn’t know whether to get a gun before opening the hood, or to call a priest proficient in the rite of exorcism! It turns out that her car’s engine had major damage, and it would be a costly repair. I swung into action checking out her options. As I saw it, she had four repair options:

Option 1: Rebuild the old engine: After pricing it out, this option was simply too expensive for Suzie’s budget. With the cost of parts, machine work, labor, and incidentals like wire, bolts, fluids, etc the price was way too high for her pocketbook.

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