Good Communication Vital To Auto Repairs

When their car is in need of routine maintenance and repair, who is most likely to take it in to the shop? A poll of ASE-certified automotive technicians indicated that drivers over 60 were among the most conscientious when it comes to taking care of their vehicles. The experts at the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence remind these consumers that good communication between shop and customer can help make the repair process go smoothly.

�Professionally run repair establishments have always recognized the importance of two-way communications in automotive repair,� notes Martin Lawson, ASE Publications Director. �It�s important that older consumers take an active role in the repair process. This doesn�t mean doing their own repair work; rather consumers should understand the repair process,� notes Lawson. Here�s advice that the experts at ASE say can make your repairs go smoothly:

Do a bit of homework before taking your vehicle in for repairs or service.

* Read the owner�s manual to learn about the vehicle�s systems and components.

* Follow the recommended service schedules.

* Keep a log of all repairs and service.

The technicians may be the experts, but don�t ignore what your vehicle is telling you. Just as you need to describe your symptoms to your physician, be prepared to discuss your vehicle�s aches and pains once you are at the repair shop. Look for:

* Unusual sounds, odors, drips, leaks, smoke, warning lights, gauge readings.

* Changes in acceleration, engine performance, gas mileage, fluid levels.

* Worn tires, belts, and hoses.

* Problems in handling, braking, steering, vibrations.

* Note when the problem occurs and whether it is constant or periodic. During braking, under acceleration, when the vehicle first starts up or after a few miles of driving?

Once you are at the repair establishment, stay involved; communicate your findings:

* Be prepared to describe any symptoms. In larger shops you�ll probably speak with service consultant rather than with the technician directly.

* Carry a written list of the symptoms that you can give to the technician or service consultant.

* Ask as many questions as you need. Do not be embarrassed to request simple definitions of technical terms.

* Ask to be called and apprised of the problem, course of action, and costs before work begins.

* Before you leave, be sure you understand all shop policies regarding labor rates, guarantees and acceptable methods of payment.

* Leave a telephone number where you can be called.