As an Automotive Repair Shop we come across some very interesting scenarios. One that seems to be presenting itself more and more is a new customer comes to us – since their vehicle has just come off its warranties – and they aren’t willing to pay dealer pricing for maintenance and  general service. So they bring their car in for a basic service package. With our service packages we always do an inspection. This is how we spot issues that could be hazardous or cause greater, more expensive repairs down the road. But more importantly have the ability to pass some lovely peace of mind to the customer that everything is running smoothly with their vehicle.

What we’re finding in these inspections are major issues. For example, a seal leak that can turn out to be an expensive repair. What happens next is shocking and sad, but not surprising. When we tell the customer what we found, they’re shocked and see these issues found through mistrusting eyes as they tell us; “I just had it at the dealership not long ago and they didn’t find that leak or say anything about it.” Or even better; “The dealer found it and said it wasn’t an issue to worry about and that I just had to monitor it, nothing is at risk”. So they automatically think we’re trying to gouge them, especially when we tell them that the problem has been there for a while and will cause major damage if not resolved.

What’s really happening is when your vehicle is on warranty, the dealers ARE finding these issues, and either not telling you about them or they do their;“We washed the engine and found it’s very minor so we will monitor it” statement. The reason for this is, if your car is close to the end of the warranty, they want to push the work off till it becomes essential and the car is OFF the warranty so you bring it to them and they can cash in then.

You’re probably asking yourself, “ How can that be, they’re doing the work anyways and the manufacturer must paying for it, why would they not just do it and save the headache?” Reason for this is it’s actually all about money and how much the dealer can get in their pocket in the end. When a vehicle is repaired under warranty, they get the part from the manufacture for no additional cost, which is good for them. But the manufacture doesn’t pay the full shop labor rate for the hours of labor put in to fix the car by the technicians. This means the dealer gets their basic costs covered – but that’s it. They don’t actually make any money on the repair as they may get less then half of what they would charge a customer directly. Plus, there is the part. Yes they are getting it free from the manufacturer when it’s covered by warranty.  But when a non warranty job comes in the dealer has to pay their price for the part, but they also mark up the cost of the part to the customer. As a result, they make revenue on that component as well.

So you see, if there is any chance a dealer can put off a job, do a bandaid fix or tell the customer they will “monitor this minor issue” till the vehicle is no longer covered by warranty, they’ll make more money and not be tying their shop space and technicians up with work they’re just covering their costs on. Automotive repair is a big revenue channel for dealers and as independent shops they depend on that work. As long as they document it in some form, they’ve covered their butts.

Trouble is, with the bad reputation independent shops have gotten over the years from pushing work that wasn’t necessary, makes customers very suspicious when they take their car in and are told that there is serious work needed that was not identified by the dealer. Plus, it just feeds that sense of mistrust and customers are left not knowing if they should trust the new shop or the dealer.  It’s a sad truth and we’re seeing it happen more often. We’ve even seen it bad enough – in the case when the issue has been a leak – that after cleaning the engine and going through our process of identifying where the trouble spot truly lies, things get worse and customers are left feeling hosed. Worst part is, we aren’t the ones that hosed them.

So what can be done about this? Being aware is important. But it comes down to really one thing you can do if this happens to you. Trust the shop you take it too. Most shops, especially us, know how important the relationship with our customers is. Without them we wouldn’t be in business. We’re not in the business of doing anything that isn’t necessary as we want you to feel good about how you’ve been treated and come back – even better tell your friends. Developing a good relationship with an automotive shop you trust is key. If you don’t have one, come to us – our guarantees and reviews speak for themselves. We don’t like seeing people get taken advantage of and will do everything in our power to give you the best experience possible, while making sure your car will get you where you need to go.

Remember, there are three essential things you need in life. One; a good doctor. Two; a clever accountant. And three; an excellent mechanic. We can help with one of those at least. Give us a call.