Day in and day out we receive calls from people asking for us to diagnose their car for free. The general consensus is that there’s a magical computer that hooks up to the vehicle and accurately tells us everything that’s wrong with it in a matter of seconds. If only it were that simple…..
The truth is that vehicles are much more complex than they were years ago. They require expensive tools and a myriad of ongoing training so that our Technicians can stay up to date on the latest technologies and features. Think about the clock in your car. Back when you were driving a car built in the mid 80’s it was probably pretty simple to set the time on that clock. Now you have to pull out the manual, try to figure it out, and ultimately give up and wait for daylight savings to end so the clock is correct again (it happens more than you could imagine). So if you think that clock is complex just try to imagine how complicated the systems are that allow the car to run properly.
In short, we trust our Technicians, their expertise, and training. All of our repairs start with one of our Technicians verifying the customer’s concern then following a strict diagnostic path to get to the root of the problem. By skipping this process or altering and installing parts that the customer insists that they need without proper diagnosis, we could end up quoting and/or performing repairs that most likely wouldn’t fix the customer’s concern.
Sometimes parts fail only due to the failure of another part (subsequent damage). There’s simply no way for us to know the extent of the repair we’re quoting for your car unless it’s properly diagnosed by one of our staff first.
Why we have to charge for diagnosis:
From time to time people will come in and tell us what is wrong with their car and that they had it “diagnosed” by a local part store or their “friend researched common problems online”. Neither of which assure us that the repair they’re requesting will actually fix the concern. The other problem here is that there isn’t a part store around that can properly “diagnose” a vehicle, a single website that can pinpoint through the internet exactly what’s wrong with your vehicle, and there certainly isn’t a single piece of diagnostic equipment that will tell someone exactly what’s wrong with their car without performing tests (if there was then we would buy it….).
I’ll try to put this into perspective in a different way. I hurt my back a few years ago. I thought that it was a good idea to go play tackle football with a bunch of 20 year old’s and went home to cry to my wife about all my aches and pains. She was less than sympathetic….. So naturally I went on WebMD to see what was wrong with me and after a few minutes I self diagnosed myself as having Hypertension, Malaria, and Fibromyalgia. The worst part was that I couldn’t get into the doctor for about a week and all I did that week was research my self diagnosis. The more research I did, the more symptoms I kept discovering. The site said that being tired is a symptom, which I was because I was laying awake at 3 am reading up on my self diagnosis. I finally get to the doctor and tell her what my diagnosis was and to my surprise it wasn’t sick at all. Turns out, if you’re in your 30’s and don’t play physical sports then go play them with a bunch of in shape college athletes sometimes you
walk limp away sore……
When you have a Check Engine Light or any other MIL (Malfunction Indicator Light) lit up on your dash the computer related to that system has stored a sequence of numbers (Data Trouble Code, aka Code). This code only tells the Technician a troubled area in the system that has a problem. In no way does it tell us exactly what part failed or more importantly WHY it failed. Only a trained Technician can properly figure that out and make the proper recommendations.
What part stores do is pull these codes and give the customer a list of common issues for the given code. From there they expect the customer to purchase parts and install them one by one on their own (if they have the tools and aptitude) until “hopefully” the problem goes away or the customer gets lucky and corrects the issue. This is not only very time consuming but it’s very expensive for the customer.
Our average professional diagnosis takes about 1 hour to perform for any given concern. It also comes with a complimentary 55 Point Precision Inspection and Factory Scheduled Maintenance Check. Prior to recommending any repairs that will address your immediate concern we need to know the overall health of the vehicle. We feel that our customers need to know 100% of what’s going on with their vehicle 100% of the time (whether good or bad). What that means is that all customers are going to know exactly where their vehicle stands in terms of addressing their initial concern(s) and anything else costly that may be on the horizon. Because let’s face it, everyone has a threshold of what they’re willing to spend on their vehicle and you can’t make an informed decision if you’re not given all of the facts..
Wouldn’t you rather have a professional assessment of what will fix your immediate concern and where your vehicle will be in 6 or 12 months, rather than spending your hard earned money today only to find out later that you have other major issues that you were never told about? If your answer is “No” then our service is simply not for you…..
2015 Survey of customers that reinforce the reason for not quoting repairs unless we have diagnosed or verified the customer’s concern
Between January 1st of 2015 and October 30th of 2015 we asked 100 “New” customers to participate in our study. The participants were chosen at random and not compensated in any way. The way they were chosen was actually quite simple. “New” customers that came into the shop and were almost aggressively adamant that we needed to perform the repair their way “or else” were chosen…. This study was set up to find an answer to 1 simple question:
- How many customers knew the actual cause of their concern prior to coming in based on their research, their “friend’s” opinion, or the local part store’s advice?
All 100 of these people came in and knew “exactly” what was wrong with their vehicle and literally insisted that we replace the part they “knew” would fix their concern. The 100 consisted of:
- 51 people that had their car “diagnosed” at a local part store
- 2 of the people were correct in their diagnosis
- 17 people claiming to be “Mechanics” that “don’t have the time” to fix it themselves
- Not one of this group was correct. Not even 1…..
- 23 had a “friend” that is a Mechanic tell them what’s wrong (the friend was too busy to fix the car 18 times and the remaining 5 didn’t have the proper equipment)
- Only 1 was correct in their diagnosis and it happened to be one of the people that didn’t have the equipment
- 9 researched the issue through online forums
- 3 people were correct
- 1 of which impressively provided very detailed information pertaining to a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) that was actually covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Well done!
- 3 people were correct
Of the 100 people surveyed, only 6 were correct. That’s right, 94% of the people that INSISTED we perform a repair they “knew” would fix their concern were wrong. Good thing we checked first……
Now let’s imagine for a moment that we went ahead and performed all repairs as requested by the consumer. I assure you that we would have had 94 very upset people. The fact of the matter is that we simply don’t need the revenue bad enough to compromise our beliefs and ethics by doing something we know won’t remedy their concern only to make a buck.
Once in a while someone is upset by this policy and insist that we perform the repair the way they want it done. But the way I look at is, if they want to be upset with us for keeping their best interests at heart that’s fine. I would rather this be the case than have them upset because we charged them for something they didn’t need.
President/ Precision Auto Repair and Sales