5 Mistakes Auto Repair Consumers Make

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The auto repair environment can be daunting since the repair facility definitely has the upper hand. Don't make it worse! Here are five mistakes often made by auto repair consumers that you should try to avoid.

Submitted: February 03, 2016

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Submitted: February 03, 2016



In auto repair, knowledge is power and the repair facility controls it. Many customers aggravate their disadvantage by making mistakes. Self-diagnosing, withholding information, not asking enough questions, minimizing information, and not being prepared to make a decision are the most common errors.


Never offer a diagnosis of your car’s problem. You are paying the experts to do this. Remember, theories from well-meaning third parties only serve as distractions. However, once the shop diagnoses the problem, it owns it.

Many companies will scan your car’s computer for free.  This information tells them why the check engine light is on, but it is not a diagnosis. A knowledgeable person needs to evaluate the data and devise a repair track for the car. The scan is just the start of the process.

Withholding Information

Drivers don't give complete information to repairers for a number of reasons. Embarrassment is  number one. About what, you ask? Possibly, the consumer has disregarded warning lights, tried to repair the vehicle himself, or has been driving the compromised car much too long. Or maybe, some other professional has attempted a repair and failed.

If there was ever a time for full disclosure, it is when you get your car repaired. The process often resembles a puzzle. It should not, however, be an information scavenger hunt. The technician needs to know the what, where, when, and how surrounding the failed vehicle.

Not Probing Enough 

In your search for the complete story about your repair, you may need to probe into your shop’s  plan. This entails asking questions that some consumers are reluctant to ask. These queries go beyond the price and completion time.

You might ask if the planned repair will impact other systems on the car. For example, will the replacement of a steering or suspension part necessitate the need for an alignment?  Or could anything increase the price? And how sure is the shop of their diagnosis, and what if it is wrong?

Facts and conditions that may seem unrelated or inconsequential to the consumer may aid in a vehicle’s repair. Suppose the shop is having trouble diagnosing an intermittent problem with your airbag light; you might not think that occasionally carrying heavy cargo on the passenger’s seat would be pertinent?

But in this case, since there is a sensor in the passenger’s seat that monitors pressure, it is important for the repairer to know.  So, as this example demonstrates, even what you are hauling in your car can become important.


 Not Being Prepared to Act

You should also be prepared to make a decision about your repair. If the price is a deal-breaker, then you should know what your limits are. If you need the vehicle for a trip and cannot wait for the arrival of a replacement part, maybe you should reconfigure the plans for the trip or the repair.

Be sure to carve out enough time at work to field the shop’s call for approval. Most repair facilities  have limited space, and a delay may result in needless expense for the reassembly of your car.

To maximize your visits to auto repair facilities remember to let the shop diagnose the vehicle and be as open as possible with information, but ask plenty of questions and be prepared to decide when contacted by the shop for approval. 

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