You don’t need to know the water pump from the ignition coil in order to help us out. Here are a few things we wish every customer did.
Clean out your car.
We could write a book about things we have seen, smelled, and found in customers’ vehicles. Anyone who has worked in the auto industry for more than a day can tell you a few stories. Technicians, service advisers, tow truck drivers, and lot assistants will all need to get in your vehicle for one reason or another, whether it is to move it into the shop, take it for a diagnostic test drive, or park it in another spot to make room. Every single one of them would appreciate if you took a few minutes to take the trash out of your car, wipe down a sticky steering wheel, or vacuum out the dog hair. Unload your truck bed. We appreciate it. To be honest, you will appreciate it.
Drop the car off.
In today’s day and age you can have your groceries waiting at the door when you get to Kroger. Jimmy John’s will bring your lunch to your desk in 10 minutes. The oil change place down the street says they will get your car in and out in 15 minutes flat. Fast is the new way of life, and we all expect instant gratification.
Unfortunately, we can’t diagnose and repair transmission problems that quickly. To put it in perspective, let’s say that 15 minute oil change is equivalent to swinging by the pharmacy for a flu shot. In this analogy, diagnosing and rebuilding a transmission is more akin to a kidney transplant. It takes time to verify the problem identify the source, and evaluate the best plan of action. Then it takes us time to make the repair. Leave the car with us, and make plans for us to have the car for a couple of days. If it turns out to be something minor, we get the car back to you sooner. If it requires extensive repairs, you planned ahead. We appreciate your patience, and planning ahead will make your life easier too.
Make an appointment, especially for minor services.
Some services we can do while you wait. Of course, if you can drop it off, we always recommend you do that so our technicians can have the best conditions for diagnosing and repairing problems. However, if you just need an oil change and fresh brake pads, we can usually knock that out pretty quickly. If you need to wait on your car, do yourself a favor and make an appointment.
Because many of the repairs we perform require a car to be taken apart for several hours or even days, if you don’t make an appointment, we may not have space in the shop to bring your car in as soon as you arrive. Schedule your appointment, and we can make sure we have a technician and a service bay ready for your vehicle. Even if you are dropping your car off, appointments let us know what you need and help us to get your vehicle finished as soon as possible.
Leave a note.
If we had a dollar for every time a customer dropped a car off overnight with no information, we would be able to retire to Maui tomorrow. We have night key drops so you can drop your car off after hours, and we can work on it first thing in the morning. However, if you don’t leave us a note, we won’t know who your car belongs to or what work we need to do until you call. That means instead of working on your car at 8:00 AM when we open, it may not get touched until you call at noon. Some people have left cars here for WEEKS without us knowing who it belonged to or what the concern was. Call us the day before and let us know it will be dropped off, and what you need. Then put your name on your keys. At the very least, leave us a note with your name and number and what you need us to do.
Let us arrange the tow and the rental.
While we don’t own tow trucks, we work closely with area towing companies who do a great job. They know that towing a car improperly can cause more damage, and how to avoid it. They are familiar with our facilities and know where to park the car so that we can get it in the shop easily and safely. Most importantly, if you have us make a major repair, we cover the cost of the tow! We also have deals with local rental car companies for our customers. If you need a rental car, let us call and schedule it for you. If we call, you pay a discounted rate. If you walk in, they charge you full price. Save the headache, save time, and save money. Let us take care of it.
Explain what is wrong.
Our technicians are really good at figuring out what is wrong, but they need to know what they are looking for. You wouldn’t let the doctor look for an earache when you had an injured ankle. Let us know what your concerns are, so we know what to look for. It is okay if you don’t know the technical term. That is our job. If you hear a noise, where is it coming from? If you suspect transmission, does the problem happen when the car is first started, or after you have been driving for a while? When it shifts funny, what speed are you going? Let us know as much as you can about what the problem is, so that we can make sure we are looking in the right place. Tell us how to get the car to act up. If it only happens when you turn left from a stoplight going uphill in the rain after you have been driving for 8 minutes, we need to know that.
Let us know up front if you have a warranty.
We accept and work with almost all extended warranty companies. We highly recommend them, as they can often be worth far more than you pay for them. Many of the warranty companies want things done a certain way in order to cover a claim. If we know that you have a warranty, we can be sure to follow their procedures to make sure your repair is covered. Some warranty companies require us to notify them before we begin diagnostics, or may require pictures or specific paperwork. Some want to have an inspector look at the vehicle before anything is taken apart. Some companies will send us a complete engine or transmission instead of having us order parts to repair yours. We need to know how your warranty company handles claims so that we can make the process quick and easy and get you back on the road.
We get it. Maybe the reason the car has a problem is a little embarrassing like leaving the emergency brake on and driving halfway to work before realizing it. Maybe you tried to fix it and it didn’t go so well. It happens. Just let us know so that we don’t miss anything. If you don’t tell us that, we will probably figure it out anyway, but it might take twice as long to go over everything and make sure it wasn’t faulty parts that caused it.
One of the big ones we run into is cars with performance modifications or that owners drive hard. You damaged the transmission drag racing last weekend? No problem, I hope it was a good time. If you tell us you race the car, we might have options to make it stronger. Some car and truck owners have programmers or engine modifications done that aren’t easy to spot, or the owners disconnect before they bring it in. If we don’t know about the modification, we can’t make the best diagnosis or repair. Many truck programmers have settings for the transmission built in. Some of these can cause odd transmission behaviors if they aren’t set correctly. We may not find a problem with the programmer unplugged. If your engine makes a lot more power than stock, we may need to beef other components up to help it all hold together. We love going fast. Let us know you do too and we can help.
We don’t expect you to be an expert. If you were, we would be paying you instead of you paying us. We want you to understand what we are doing with your vehicle. We also want you to understand how to care for your car to prevent future problems. If you need to make plans to get to work, ask us how long the repair will take. Don’t understand the repair we are making? Ask us. Do you want to know if something is normal or not? We would love to help you out. Don’t be afraid to ask. When we come to your workplace, we might have questions for you too.
If you have wheel locks on your car, make sure we know where to find the key. When you fill out paperwork, make sure the phone number you give us is one we can reach you with. We are here 8am-5pm. If you will be at work, give us that number instead of your home number. If you have special equipment installed in your vehicle, like hand controls or an alarm system, let us know about it and how to operate it. Make sure there is enough fuel in the tank for us to test drive the car a few times. Understand that our technicians may be taller or shorter than you are and may need to move the seat to drive safely. Oh, and dropping a box of donuts by the shop in the morning is always appreciated.