There is no room for guess work when it comes to repairing YOUR car. Just in case you didn’t read that line I’ll repeat it. There is no room for guess work when it comes to YOUR car. The only thing worse than to guess what’s wrong with your car is having that guess validated. I’m not talking about us guessing, I’m talking about the car owner guessing then wanting us to validate. Let me give an example, the car owner notices something wrong with their car, let’s just use a loud clunk when turning. They happen to mention it to their coworkers. Without fail, there is at least two coworkers that chime up that they have the EXACT same problem. A third coworker had a brother with the exact same problem as well. A quick conversation at the water cooler reals that you need a ball joint. It must be the ball joint, after all what else could it possibly be? A quick google search and diagnoses confirmed, it’s a ball joint. Now it’s time for the validation. You pick up the phone and call the shop for a price. When you ask for a price and the shop gives it to you, SHAME ON THEM. Not only did they validate your guess, they’ve done you an even bigger disservice than that. They gave you information that you used to make a decision about your car based on nothing. If the problem isn’t the ball joint (rarely is the watercooler pow-wow guess correct) but you have a dollar amount in your head to repair the problem that isn’t actually going to be the cost of the repair.
You need good information so that you can make good decisions. Nowhere in the scenario above do you have good information. Given the wrong information, guess what kind of decision you’re going to make? A good repair shop would explain to you that without a thorough inspection there is no way to tell what car repairs are needed. Sadly, there are shops out there that will not only give you a price, but they’ll give you a low price so that you have that warm fuzzy feel, they do this because they know that most likely that isn’t what the car needs. Yet so many people will bring their car to those shops because they heard what they wanted to hear, not what they needed to hear.
True story, I had a customer call me and ask for a price for a rebuilt transmission on their Dodge Caravan. They were trying to make a decision whether to fix it or junk it. Rather than shooting them a price I spent the time to find out more of what was happening with their minivan. I started suspecting it wasn’t a transmission at all. I encouraged them to have it towed in. Upon inspecting it, I found that a CV joint on the front axle had broken. The repair was going to be a new front axle for a cost of about $350. Could you imagine if I told them the cost of a transmission over the phone? A rebuilt transmission on that van was about $2000. For sure they would have junked it. If they would have called a shop for a price on a transmission they would have made a bad decision.