Tune up is an old term irrelevant to modern vehicles in most aspects. So, when you call a shop and say you need a tune up, you are going to get a different answer depending on the shop.
As I have discovered from talking with several mechanics from across the country, some shops have given into the fact that their clients are still in this old tune up mindset. The “tune up” they offer is actually a maintenance package. However, that doesn’t always address the concern you really have, which risks your disappointment if the problem is unresolved.
Your vehicle is in the shop and you have questions that you believe only your mechanic can answer. You give him a call but he’s unavailable. What’s the deal? Why does my mechanic say he is occupied?
Our client services representative, Victoria, is good at talking with clients about their vehicles. She wears the hat of a service writer and many others. She’s good at her job and can answer a lot of your questions. However, sometimes you just need to talk to the mechanic. He knows the intricacies of your vehicle more than a service writer because he’s the one working on the machines day in and day out.
Why, then, when you ask Victoria if you can talk to Andrew does she say he’s occupied?
I often see memes encouraging young people to consider trade school over college. It’s true that these tradesmen are needed and that a lot of them make good money. I usually comment, “Yes, a lot of these trades pay well, but auto repair doesn’t.”
“But my mechanic makes $60 an hour!” is the response.
“No, they don’t. Far less, actually.”
“So, why does my invoice say that the labor is $60/hour?” they retort.
Ah, the confusion. I’ve had conversations with many people with this misunderstanding. Let me clear it up for you. Labor rate and a mechanics wage are two different things.
We regularly discuss whether a client should fix or replace their vehicle. Many of these clients mention its value per Kelly Blue Book (KBB) or Edmunds when making this decision. While market value comes into play when looking to buy a vehicle, it doesn’t really account for much when looking at whether keeping the vehicle and repairing it makes more financial sense.
One example is my car–I drove a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am with 200k miles on it. I was trying to figure out if it was worth repairing while I saved up to buy a newer vehicle. I was getting to the point where I didn’t know what repairs were coming up, the chance of breaking down on the side of the road, and what could put me or my passengers at risk in the case of an accident. Being an older vehicle, and my first car, I hadn’t done much past doing emergent repairs and oil changes since I didn’t know better, so I had Andrew inspect it.
The findings were absolutely shocking; the vehicle had many leaks, blown struts, overdue maintenance, and the frame had rust rot. After doing some estimating, I found that in order to put my car in a good place mechanically (excluding all needed body work), I was looking at repair costs of up to $11,500!
Our family’s 1994 Toyota Corolla has a few quirks, but has been a reliable vehicle overall. Having been around vehicles so much over the years, I have a unique peace of mind about driving a vehicle of any age. Why? Because I’m educated about what’s normal, what’s not, and what to do if there is a problem. You can have the same peace of mind.
Fair is being told the truth even if it’s not good news.
Fair is clear communication.
Fair is meeting a high standard of excellence.
Fair is knowing you are getting good value for your money.
Fair is seeing actions align with words.
Fair is being treated with respect.
It doesn’t matter if your mechanic is great at fixing cars if you don’t feel like you are being treated fairly. I can’t count the number of times a person, especially a woman, has come into our shop with a tale or two of feeling like they’ve been taken advantage of by an auto repair shop. There are many ways people have been treated unfairly by auto repair shops but I want to focus on what being fair should look like.
What is your reaction when you see a business advertise a “quality” service or product? For me personally, a claim of quality doesn’t influence my purchasing decision. I wonder if it’s just a marketing ploy. I want to experience the quality, or hear about other’s experiences, before I trust in the claim.
Quality is a value our shop strives for, but we don’t want you to take our word for it. We want you to experience it for yourself.
So, the question really is, how do you know if an auto repair shop truly meets a quality standard?
I was talking with a friend the other day about her latest car repair experience. Her vehicle had broken down and was towed to the shop AAA recommended. After testing and evaluation, some inexpensive parts, and labor to fix the car, they received a bill for about $1,000. She was shocked that after only a couple new bolts it cost that much. She was under the impression the invoice said two mechanics made $50 an hour each for the job. There were only a few inexpensive parts, so why did it cost so much!?
Cheryl hung up the phone and thought about what she should do. She wasn’t sure the woman from the repair shop was giving her the right information. Did she really need to have all that work done? Struts, shocks, control arms, an alignment and tires? It seemed excessive.