A Car’s Lifeline – Maintenance

A Car’s Lifeline – Maintenance

It’s a glorious but muggy day outside, and I’m sitting at my desk wearing this dress that looks like an artist’s canvas.

I am working with two customers whose cars came in on a tow truck with a no start condition…

My first real memory of automotive repair was of my mother trying to jump start the van in the middle of the street. She was eight months pregnant at the time. The alternator had gone out. Although this is a problem that could not have been prevented, it made me promise I would never buy a car. When I got the opportunity to work for Sears Auto Center I didn’t even have a driver’s license. I started working with this fabulous, strong headed and loving woman who became my mentor. She handled customers with grace even when I knew she was exploding inside.

The first month in the auto center was overwhelming. At night while I slept I would have nightmares about putting the wrong tires on a car or having a huge stack of them fall on top of me. Details are crucial in automotive repair. Seeing that spark in a customer’s eye after I explained a repair in the way they would understand was worth all the trouble. Teachers always talk about how rewarding it is to see a light-bulb go off when a student understands a lesson. I finally understand what they mean now.

The day a customer decides it’s time to finally repair in usually when something disastrous happen.

It could be the day your car cuts off on you in the road due to something breaking that you knew about and could have repaired but didn’t. Or maybe the day your control arm breaks and causes your axle to snap. Or that time you knew it was way past time to change your timing belt and decided it could wait. I have the most influence to help a customer along the right path on that day with a huge bill in front of then they decide to fix their car.

What repair made you rethink your car repairs and maintenance?

My personal car is maintained using the same services that I recommend to my customers. I don’t want to ever be stuck in the street with a car problem that could have been prevented.

My ethics dictate that my customers receive the same advice I would give a friend or partner. I recommend synthetic oil changes to my customers for better, longer lasting oil. Regular oil changes are the cornerstone to proper maintenance. During oil changes, mechanics then have the opportunity to advise car owners on repairs they may be upcoming, which allows time to budget from them. We can catch brakes before you damaged the caliper and in effect. This problem can double the cost of your repair.

Those customers I mentioned earlier with cars that won’t start?

The Chrysler 200 needed a starter and a new engine control module If her car had come into the shop regularly, or at the very least if she had brought it in the moment her car starter became a problem, she most likely would not have needed the new computer.  The customer decided to repair her car. After these repairs were complete, the car still had one additional significant problem. The customer failed to disclose that used engine was recently installed, and the car had not worked properly since. Although the no start problem was fixed, the car still wasn’t ready to be used. The car hasn’t been picked  up yet, so I will update next time.

And the Honda Pilot? The timing belt broke, causing possible bent valves and further engine damage. This customer took her frustration out on me. She claimed that I was over-charging her for diagnostics and that the shop was discriminating against her because she is a woman. Since the timing belt repair wouldn’t guarantee that the car would run, she towed her car home.

These two cars are prime examples of how not to maintain your car!

Lesson 1:

When you come into a shop with a problem, be sure to disclose any major or minor repairs done recently. If you go to a doctor, and tell him about a cough you have but not your sore throat and fever, you might get diagnosed with a cold instead of strep. The same goes with cars.

Lesson 2:

Maintenance on your car is critical to the proper performance of your car. A good example of this in your day to day life is laundry. Imagine you have a shirt made out of a thin almost see-through fabric. You are supposed to wash this shirt by hand, but you don’t have time for that. Instead you put the shirt through the laundry cycle on delicate. How long do you think this thin, delicate, and expensive shirt will last before threads start coming out of it? It’s the same with your car. Proper care will help your car last a very long time.

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