Thursday, November 23, 2017 Detailed Auto Topics
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Women seem to feel particularly vulnerable when they need auto repair. The fact is, members of either sex are equally prone to scams. Shopping methods increase the odds of being taken advantage of and are a key to getting better results.

When buying simple items that are largely standardized and where cost is fairly low, comparing price is an adequate means of purchasing. A grade A T-bone steak is the same, regardless of where it is purchased, as is a pair of Nike's tennis shoes. This type shopping is referred to as commodity shopping, because the purchaser knows what they want and can readily compare the features. 

With auto repair, or other complex purchases, things change. With involved and higher-cost purchases, other factors must be taken into account. Professional purchasing agents refer to this as over-all cost and sometimes life-cycle cost.  Without knowledge of the principles, such purchases can be very frustrating and even make people angry.

Understanding overall lowest cost can prevent a lot of frustration

A main factor to be considered is what is actually needed

When shopping for a pair of shoes, the need is clear. Contrast this with shopping to cure an engine overheating problem. The overheating is a symptom, but the purchaser may have no idea what the problem is. 

Instead, people must rely on someone to tell them what they need

If all providers were equally skilled in diagnosing problems, and all components used in the repair were of equal quality, this would be less difficult. This is not the case. Some shops are excellent at diagnosis and other are very poor. Some shops use high-quality original equipment parts; others use aftermarket and rebuilt parts.

Lack of standardization makes comparing prices very difficult

 True Example

A lady’s car overheats and is taken to a shop. She is told the head gaskets are blown and because of the mileage, the engine should be replaced. To try and save money she calls around and asks, "How much does it cost to replace the engine in her vehicle." She receives a wide range of prices and is even more confused.

Finally, she calls a shop that is referred to her, and is told to bring the vehicle in for a diagnosis. The shop refuses to quote a price because they do not know what is wrong with the vehicle. This sounds implausible, and she decides to keep looking. At the insistence of her friend, she finally brings the vehicle to this shop. After a proper diagnosis, the problem is found to be a bad radiator cap and is fixed for a few dollars.

The first shop noticed the lack of coolant and performed a pressure test, the same as the last shop. No leak could be found, because the cap that was leaking was removed to perform the test. The first shop assumed, since no external leak could be found, the head gaskets were the cause. The last shop tested the cap. 

Worse, many service advisors are paid on a commission basis. This means they get a percentage of what they can sell. In a perfect world, this should make little difference. In reality, it can lead to over-selling and pushing high-profit items.

With over-all cost, price is one factor, combined with problems and cost created and divided by how long the item or service last. Shopping for over-all lowest cost requires more time invested before the purchase. For instance, the diagnostic ability and integrity of the shop become key factors. This information is harder to obtain than price, but makes all the difference.

Determining the quality of a service before it is rendered, takes time, but pays huge dividends. It is not always practical to learn all that would be needed to make the best choice when buying auto repair. Instead, invest some time to find a high-quality auto repair shop, before service is needed. The right shop will become a trusted advisor in providing over-all lowest cost.

When possible, finding a regular shop, before service is needed is a much better approach. Time invested ahead of need can pay huge dividends down the road. The first step is to do a bit of homework.

Tips on Finding A Great Shop

Ask friends, coworkers and others that drive the type vehicle that you own, who they use. As important is to ask, "Why do you recommend them?" Be certain the reason given is what you are looking for in a shop.

Look for a name(s) that comes up more than once in referrals. Several folks recommending the same facility is a very good sign. If the shop has a website, pay a visit. Read carefully the things that are written and how they are written. Does the expressed information match your aims in auto service?

Next call the competition and ask what they think of the shop youre considering. This may seem odd, but can offer quite a bit of information. Dont expect a glowing recommendation from a competitor, but ask, "Do you think they are trustworthy," and "Do you think they know what they are doing?"

Lastly make a call or visit to the shop. A few observations can reveal a great deal. There are two very broad categories of folks in the auto repair trade, in my opinion. Those who are there to fix your vehicle and those that are there to sell you something.





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