(NUI) - Even though today's vehicles have on-board computers that "talk" to the diagnostic equipment found in many modern repair facilities, the first line of defense is still communication between customer and service writer or technician.
Here are some tips from the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) on ways to communicate effectively at repair shops:
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. 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, 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 repair establishment:
Be prepared to describe the symptoms but do not suggest a specific course of repair.
Do not be embarrassed to ask questions or definitions of technical terms.
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.
For a copy of ASE's brochure, "How to Communicate for Better Automotive Service," please send a self-addressed, stamped business envelope to: ASE, Communi-cation Brochure, Dept. NU-995, 13505 Dulles Technology Drive, Suite 2, Herndon, VA 20171-3421.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence 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 blue and white ASE sign. Approximately 450,000 professionals hold ASE credentials. Visit the ASE Web site (www.asecert.org) for more information.