What is an emergency auto repair? Any time a person’s vehicle is broken is an emergency to them. The only way to deal with emergencies is to prepare in advance, and that is easier than most people realize.
Calling a good auto repair shop that can take a vehicle immediately is rare. Most will take a few days before they will see the vehicle. This is normal, as the good shops are in demand. Skilled auto technicians are experts and are well paid. Optimizing their time is necessary to keep costs in line. To have extra personnel, waiting for a job to come in, will require ridiculously expensive prices.
Why the best shops make appointments
The best shops book appointments and stop taking vehicles when they reach capacity. This allows them to deliver the vehicles when promised. Coordinating several repairs and delivering on time is no easy task. People with vehicles in the shop have every right to expect their repair to be complete when promised. This will not occur if they pull technicians off their job to check vehicles that drop in without an appointment. Interrupting the repair in process also increases mistakes, several times over.
So what do I do in an emergency?
Remember every client’s broken vehicle is an emergency. An unplanned repair is inconvenient, but does not put us ahead of everyone else. The best plan is to prevent emergencies, by having an annual inspection of the vehicle. We can prevent most emergency break downs, with early detection.
A very common example is a dead battery. The average life of a battery is 38-months and less in hotter climates. Replacing a battery at three-years drastically decreases the odds of a breakdown. Another is a check-engine light. The light may come on and then go off. This does not mean the problem is fixed. Scheduling repair, at a convenient time, is better than waiting for the inevitable emergency break down.
Most breakdowns give symptoms, in advance. Learning to recognize the symptoms, allows scheduling repairs at your convenience.
Drop in repair
When making appointments, precisely predicting the time every repair will take is not possible. Shops base scheduling on symptoms from the client and experience with the vehicles. Often, extra time becomes available during the day. Shops fill this time with vehicles that clients drop off without appointments.
If every scheduled job takes the time planned, the dropped off vehicles may not get checked that day. Often it will get checked earlier than waiting for an appointment. If we cannot drive the vehicle, drop in repair offers a faster alternative.
Renting a vehicle, while waiting for repair, is another option. Many rental companies offer lower rates, when your car is in the shop. This is far less expensive than an improper repair at a substandard shop. Some full-coverage insurance policies also cover rental expense, when the vehicle breaks down.
When to stop driving a vehicle
The check engine light is an early warning system and normally notifies the driver of an impending problem. When the light comes on is the time to schedule an appointment. Waiting a few days for repair is generally not a problem.
An exception is a flashing check engine light. This signals a misfire, which will cause other damage. Seeking immediate service is best, if the light continuously flashes.
Red warning lights mean the vehicle needs immediate service. An oil pressure light, temperature light and battery light are examples. When a red light comes on, we should stop driving the vehicle.
Yellow lights signal caution, but are not normally immediately critical. The check engine light and ABS brake light are examples. Though ABS says brakes, it is separate from the actual braking system. Normally a red brake light will signal a brake problem. The ABS light can generally wait, until an appointment at a quality shop is available.