Thursday, February 14, 2008

Auto repair shop true stories

This next customer had a common complaint of the a/c not blowing cold air. They took their Chevy cavalier into a local auto repair shop and asked for an estimate to repair the a/c. The auto repair shop provided a whopper of an estimate for replacing almost every component in the a/c system. The shop wanted to replace the a/c compressor and almost all of the parts that attached to the compressor.
The customer got me involved before any repairs were approved. After making some notes on what the vehicle owner was told I called the auto repair shop.
The service advisor notified me that the compressor had internal damage and spread metal through the system. This was believable and I have seen this happen before.
But I decided to ask a few questions before I recommended the owner approve the repairs.
I asked the service advisor what the pressure readings were on the high and low side. The advisor stated he would find out and call me back.
Two hours latter he called back and notified me that the system was empty and the freon had leaked out. The red flag went up.
When an a/c system is empty the compressor will not come on and testing is not possible.
The procedure would be to test charge the system and with the compressor running to properly diagnose the failure.
I asked the auto repair shop how they determined the compressor was bad and spread metal through the system without having run the compressor. He said he would call me back.
When he called back he stated that his technician was familiar with this make and model vehicle and that compressor failures are common on this type of vehicle.
At this point I called the customer and recommended to move the vehicle to another auto repair shop.
I informed the vehicle owner that this shop did no diagnosis and was planning on replacing all the parts and hoping the vehicle would be fixed.
The customer agreed and moved the vehicle to an a/c specialty auto repair shop.
I decided to tell this story because the results are funny to me. The a/c shop test charged the system and found a leaking evaporator.
This was the one part that the first shop left out of the estimate. The first shop would have replaced all of those good parts and left the one bad part remaining.
Why did they leave the evaporator out of the estimate? The reason is that the evaporator is hard to replace. The first shop was only interested in doing the easier repairs and hoping it would fix the problem.
Now the car is fixed and the owner avoided replacing $1500.00 of un needed a/c components.
Case study # 3
This next case was a problem with a 2002 Toyota corolla. Yes even Toyotas can have mechanical problems.
In this case the vehicle owner notified me that her engine was leaking oil and wanted to know if this would be covered under warranty.
The vehicle warranty was 3 years or 36,000 miles which ever came first. The customer had 36,125 miles on the vehicle, just over the warranty limit. I was surprised that the vehicle was having this problem because Toyotas are very well built.
I did some research and found out that the vehicle had brand new technology in the engine compartment. This vehicle had the first year for a new engine know as the vvti (variable valve timing).
I used all data to research TSB’s (technical service bulletins). The very first bulletin was about engine oil leaks from the front timing cover.
I called the customer and asked if the oil leak was from the right side of the vehicle. The customer put some cardboard under the vehicle and confirmed the next day that it was on the right side.
I faxed over a copy of the TSB and the owner took her vehicle to the Toyota dealer instead of an auto repair shop. The dealership performed the repairs under warranty even though it was technically out of warranty by miles.
As a side note the dealer has some lead way when it comes to warranty coverage. If the vehicle is out of warranty but close the dealer can still cover the repairs under a grace period clause provide by the manufacture.
The dealer can do this for customer satisfaction and brand loyalty reasons. Most dealers will not do this unless you ask.
If they refuse to offer you a slight grace period you can call the manufacture and explain that if they assist you, the next time you buy a car it will be their brand because of the support received.
Back to the Toyota story. The owner of the vehicle picked up the car and the oil leak was fixed.
The customer was looking at her receipt and the repairs did not match the repairs that I sent her in the TSB. I had her fax me a copy of the receipt.
The warranty paper work stated that the dealer replaced the cylinder head gasket and not the timing cover seal that had been updated by Toyota.
I called the dealer to find out why the receipt did not match the repair. I wanted to make sure that the redesigned timing cover seal was installed on this vehicle to avoid future problems.
The service advisor’s honesty surprised me.

He stated that the timing cover seal was replaced with the updated part number but they had charged Toyota to replace the head gasket because the head gasket operation paid more labor from Toyota.
So what this meant was the dealership was actually stealing from the factory.
When I went back to the customer and told her the story she asked me to drop it and not get the dealer in trouble because as far as she was concerned the car was fixed properly. The customer felt that looking out for Toyota was not her concern.
I agreed to drop it but I wanted to tell you the story. If the dealer cannot scam you they can still scam the factory. The dealerships lust for money knows no boundaries.
This is a good time to touch on warranty repairs and the relationship between the dealer and the manufacture.
I have worked at dealers that scammed the manufacture worse than they did the customers.
This affects all of us as in the manufacture takes these loses in account when pricing new vehicles and passes the cost on to the consumer at the point of sale on new vehicles.
I have worked for dealerships that pushed the manufacture to the point of the dealership being audited by the factory.
This process is very interesting and I wanted to share it with you.
When a dealership performs warranty repairs the factory requires the dealership to turn in the old parts for inspection.
Yes the manufacture uses the same techniques I recommended earlier in the verifying the repairs chapter.
The factory doesn’t trust the dealership either.
When the dealer’s warranty claims exceed what the factory considers normal an audit is performed.
The manufacture will send out a factory representative to review warranty claims and old parts.
The dealership is then responsible to pay any charge backs that the factory feels is necessary.
If the dealership refuses to pay, then the franchise is pulled and the dealer is out of the new car business.
I hope you found these auto repair shop stories entertaining.

by Mark Gittelman

1 comment:

Patio Furniture said...

i know it sucks man