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Monday, February 12, 2024

Ways to Avoid Common (and costly) Mistakes Made Serving Your Car

It's easy to make a mistake and agree to services for your car that you just might not need. Arm yourself with this information and you can forget about making these costly errors:
  • You are not required to take your car to the dealer from whom you bought your car for service. Any dealer franchised for your make of car can perform warranty work and all other work.
  • Buy your next car from the dealer with the best price and service it with the dealer that offers the best service.
  • You are required only to have warranty work done at a dealer for your make of car. All other repairs and maintenance can be performed by any qualified mechanic or service company. Always save receipts for the work performed when you have work done by someone other than a franchised dealer for your make.
  • Always get at least two bids on any service or repair that’s costly, or you aren’t sure is necessary.
  • Always get a written estimate of the cost of a service or repair. Many states, including Florida, require that the dealer remain within 10% of the written estimated cost.
  • My rule of thumb on an extended warranty or service contract is not to buy one. Assuming you bought a reliable car and maintained it properly, the odds are against you saving money on repairs by buying a warranty or service contract. The fine print in these contracts excludes most of the more likely and expensive repairs. The only valid reason for buying one is for "peace of mind," which is a psychological issue that only you can decide.
  • Ask for a more qualified technician to be assigned to work on your car, even if you must wait a little longer. One of my favorite jokes is, "What do they call the doctor who graduated last in his medical school class? A Doctor." Ensure your technician is ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified in the skills required to work on your car, such as transmission, engine, air-conditioning, etc.
  • Be sure to have all the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance done, according to their time schedule, and don’t buy anything else recommended only by the dealer. The service advisors are commissioned service salespeople. The more they can sell you, the more money they make. Today’s cars are far ahead of the cars you bought 10-15 years ago in terms of maintenance requirements. Most manufacturers offer free maintenance for periods of time, and the required maintenance is negligible—mainly tires and oil changes. Many dealer’s service departments will try to sell you more maintenance than you need to make money.
  • Be sure that the service advisor, or, even better, the technician, road tests your car with you before and after the repair or service. One of the most common problems in service departments is telling the customer the service was done or the problem was fixed when it wasn’t. This often happens because the service salesman didn’t understand the problem, or the technician didn’t understand the service salesman.

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