(NUI) - You know the computer age is here to stay when the average automobile has more computing power than the early Apollo rockets that sent astronauts into outer space.
Yet despite on-board computers, computerized diagnostic equipment, hand-held engine analyzers and other high-tech marvels, getting good automotive repair and service depends, in part, on old-fashioned communication between technician and customer.
Here are some tips from the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) on ways to communicate effectively with repair shops:
Do Your Homework
Do your homework before taking your vehicle in for repairs or service:
* 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
Use all of your senses to 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 or 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?
At the Shop
Once you are at the repair establishment:
* Be prepared to describe the symptoms; but do not suggest a specific course of repair.
* Do not be embarrassed to ask questions. Ask that technical terms be explained.
* 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, guarantees, etc.
For a copy of ASE's brochure, "How to Communicate for Better Automotive Service," please send a self-addressed, stamped business envelope to: ASE, Communication Brochure, Dept. NU-698, 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 technicians.
ASE-certified technicians wear blue-and-white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact area(s) of certification. Their employers often display the blue-and-white ASE sign. More than 420,000 technicians hold ASE credentials.