(NUI) - Car repairs need not be a game of chance. According to experts with the nonprofit National Institute
for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), consumers can increase their odds of getting good automotive repair and service by communicating clearly with the repair facility's service personnel, expecting the same in return and staying involved in the process.
ASE is not recommending hanging over the shoulder of the repair technician. But there are things the average vehicle owner can do to help ensure a good repair experience.
Do your homework before taking your vehicle in:
* Read the owner's manual to learn about the vehicle's systems and components.
* Follow the recommended service schedules; keep a log of all repairs and service.
Inspect your car for:
* Unusual sounds, odors, drips, leaks, smoke, warning lights, gauge readings.
* Worn tires, belts, hoses.
* Changes in acceleration, engine performance, gas mileage, fluid levels.
* Problems in handling, braking, steering, vibrations.
Note when the problem occurs:
* When did the problem first start? Is it constant or periodic? When the vehicle is cold or after the engine has warmed up?
* At all speeds? Under acceleration? During braking? When shifting?
Once you are at the shop:
* Be prepared to describe the symptoms; but do not suggest a specific repair.
* Do not be embarrassed to ask questions.
* Don't expect an on-the-spot diagnosis, but ask to be apprised of the problem, course of action and costs before work begins.
* Be sure you understand policies regarding diagnostic fees, labor rates, return of old parts and guarantees.
* Avoid shops where you feel rushed or patronized.
For a copy of ASE's brochure "How to Communicate for Better Automotive Service," please send a self-addressed, stamped business envelope to: ASE, Communications Brochure, Dept. NU-001, 13505 Dulles Technology Drive, Suite 2, Herndon, VA 20171-3421.
ASE was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of certification. Their employers often display the ASE sign.
Visit www.asecert.org for more information.