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September 23, 2020

Getting your car repaired.

Top 4 things to be aware of and know before you go.

Nick Owen
Tip and Tricks

Can we talk about car repairs real quick?

I'm willing to bet that most of us don't truly enjoy the repair process. I think we can agree we like the end result, but we had to spend money and/or time to get there. For some of us, you're either going to the dealership or the shop of your choosing. But I think we can all agree that a bit of anxiety arises before taking the car in. The uncertainty of what's wrong with my car and how much will this cost can keep your guard up from the moment you arrive.

With over a decade of dealership experience I want to share 4 things that could help you with your next visit to the car doctor.

#1 - The Repair Order is a Legal Document

The purpose of the repair order is to document and disclose all the information and work performed regarding your vehicle's service visit. You have every right to be informed about your vehicle's condition, so If you do not understand something on the repair order, do not hesitate for elaboration or education on the repair. Something to check for is the mileage in and mileage out reading. The vehicle's mileage is recorded on the repair order upon drop off, and the shop should be (with permission) test driving the car prior and/or after the repairs, as needed. The mileage out should read at a minimum of 3 miles higher than when dropped off. Legally the shop is bound to ensure your vehicle is safe to operate on public roads, which is one of the many reasons why the repair order should be signed before and after the repairs are performed.

#2 - Complaint, Cause & Correction

The 3 C's are the general outline and the core of every repair order. This is where the customer states their concern(s), and the technician documents their diagnosis and repair(s) of the complaints or requests as provided by that customer. Whether you are dropping off or picking up, I highly recommend you verify that your complaint is documented accurately and that the cause and correction sections make sense to you before paying your bill. Because the repair order is a legal document, accuracy is crucial. In the correction part of the 3 C's, this is where you can see the technician's steps on how they came to the diagnosis and repair of your vehicle. Take your time and read it. Therein lies the proof those services and repairs were performed.

#3 Upsells

Once your car has been looked over and diagnosed, the shop will present to you their findings and offer further recommendations for service and/or repair. It's essential to know your car's history and state-of-health. Being informed and aware of your vehicle's current operational status will help you make better informed and educated decisions on whether or not you should spend more or less money on your car. With that said, ask questions. As a customer, you're entitled to a level of understanding that your vehicle is A) Safe to drive on public roads. B) Not going to fail on you in the near future. C) Operating as designed. The service center will want your repeat business, so it's in their best interest to make sure their customer is satisfied with their experience.

Being informed and aware of your vehicle's current operational status will help you make better informed and educated decisions on whether or not you should spend more or less money on your car.

#4 - Warranty Coverage

I could write a separate column on vehicle warranties, but I am going to touch on how it works for the sake of this one. Every manufacturer has a different kind of warranty, and their coverage varies. But you must read the fine print of the warranty of the vehicle you're buying. Some things will be covered, others will not. But the basic operation of the warranty is that if it is deemed a factory defect, then the dealership will repair it at no cost to you. The parties involved in determining that are conventionally the: technician, shop foreman, warranty clerk, and lastly, the manufacturer. If the customer describes an issue and the technician finds a failing component (or a defect in it for that matter), the technician will verify the warranty coverage of that component with the shop's manager and/or the warranty clerk. Based on their findings and verifying the warranty terms and coverage's validity, the technician will replace that component at no charge to the customer and wait for financial reimbursement from the manufacturer. At times the manufacturer will request the failed part be sent back to the factory for inspection. This is to inspect the cause of the component failure and ensure the dealership follows proper warranty repair guidelines.

About the author:
Nick Owen

Nick Owen has been with BMW as a technician since 2005. He relocated from his hometown of Monterey, CA to pursue a career as a BMW professional in San Diego. After a few years after working for Cunningham BMW, he was introduced to the BMW Car Club of America San Diego Chapter. Over the next 10 years, Nick served as a volunteer board member, chapter President and Regional Vice President for the National BMW CCA Board of Directors. During this time period he developed and sharpened his driving and instructor skills with HPDE events, primarily sanctioned by BMW CCA. He has promoted and facilitated lady oriented events with both his dealership, BMW CCA and Lady Driven America. With over 15 years of BMW experience and several years of on-track coaching experience, Nick is an advocate for Accelerating Change and supports the inclusion of more women in the driving field of Motorsport.
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Nick Owen