A recent report stated that over 80 percent of the vehicles on the road have one or more service or repair that’s needed, but hasn’t been taken care of. Now that’s a lot of undone service. That translates into something over 160 million vehicles in the US alone. Some of the neglected items are minor. Others are serious safety concerns.
There are several reasons why we hesitate to take care of recommended services – especially services that our automotive advisor recommends when we’re in for something else, like an oil change.
The first issue boils down to comfort with car care. We don’t always feel we know enough to make good decisions. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that vehicles are so reliable these days. They almost become an appliance. Of course you love your car, but if you don’t have to worry about it breaking down all the time, you’re not forced to think as much about preventive maintenance.
Perhaps your dad knew a lot about cars and always made sure they were taken care of. He was very comfortable dealing with his service advisor. People who don’t know as much about cars hesitate to ask questions because they don’t want to look ignorant.
It’s human nature. But, there’s so much to know in this world, we can’t all be experts in everything. So we specialize. It’s very important to ask questions of any specialist, whether it’s your doctor, financial advisor or your automotive technician.
Your auto technician wants your questions. He wants you to understand the recommendation and why it needs to be done.
That brings us to the next issue. People say that they don’t always know if they really need the service or if they are just being sold something.
At the heart, it speaks to trust. Do you trust your service center and your service advisor? Trust has to be earned and that takes time and experience. But you can shortcut the process when you realize that most of the recommendations are based in manufacturer’s maintenance schedules.
In other words, “you don’t have to trust me, you can trust your owner’s manual”.
Your service center has computer databases that contain the manufacturer’s recommendations for most all vehicles, so they don’t need to rummage through your glove box to look for your owner’s manual to know what to do.
Basically, the engineers who designed the car say here’s when you need to have it serviced. That’s who makes the recommendation, not the technician. He’s just reminding you.
Now you do need to trust your technician’s experience and judgment from time to time. When he inspects your vehicle, he may find problems or concerns. He will explain things so that you can prioritize the concern and make a good decision about whether or not to have something done.
That brings us to the third issue: Money. Often the concern is about spending the money to take care of a recommended service. Our money has many places it needs to go. And we have another list of places we want it to go. Auto maintenance isn’t usually on those lists.
Look, everyone who works at the service center has a family budget too. They can relate. Maybe a little look behind the scenes would be helpful.
Service centers invest heavily in training, diagnostic equipment and tools so that they can make repairs and perform services as efficiently as possible. And like any other business, they have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, shop and office supplies, taxes and so on.
They work hard to make sure that they diagnose the problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That’s the only way they can maintain our reputation and remain in business. If they’re not satisfying our customers and providing a good value, they won’t come back and the service center won’t be around for long.
When there is a real budget concern, your service center can help you prioritize the work that needs to be done and come up with a plan for taking care of it that works within your budget.
Let’s say you have a serious problem with your brakes. That’s a safety concern so a technician can’t ethically say, well, let’s put that off for a couple of months. What they can do is take care of the brakes now and address the cabin air filter or transmission service next month.