As an independent automotive shop we service most makes and models. We recently experienced a situation where a customer brought a vehicle for a no start diag, authorized certain repairs, and did not come to pick up vehicle since additional repairs were needed to complete the job.
We soon learned the reason why was because the owed balance isn't worth the cars value. I personally believe it isn't worth the headache, time, or money to deal with a mechanics lien for a car that's worth not much.
How do you guys handle diags? Do you collect the fee upfront to secure payment of your actual time covered?
And if a customer approves repairs, do you request a deposit? Only if repairs exceeds the cars value? (Older vehicles)
Thank you all for your thoughts and opinions in advance.
So right now im my shop I am dealing with a customer who is claiming we scratched there car in like 5 different places. Unfortunately we have been slacking on the pre existing damage report. Because really my multi point inspection form does not have a good one. Its just a 3 inch by 1 1/2 picture of a car and we are to circle the damaged areas. Now in this case here on out final road test a rock from a truck hit the windshield and put a nice chip in it. I called teh customer and explained what happened and told her I would replace the windshield for her which I did. Now half hour after she picks it up she is claiming of all this damage on the car. She stopped by today to show me the damage and it is on the d/s and p/s/ front door and a little on the fenders. Its not like one scratch its multiple blemishes obviously not caused at the same time. So being a new business and concerned with her blasting me on the internet I am most likely going to take this one on the chin and get it fixed. She had brought me in 2 estimates for 1000 dollars. I told her to go to MAACO and they gave me an estimate for 525. The thing that really bugs me is she kinda just wants me to cut her a check for 500 bucks so it appears she is obviously just is looking for money. How would you handle this?
Also in the future I am going to be doing a pre existing damage report on each car that is dropped off. But lets face it, most of the cars we see are 100k miles plus with multiple blemishes on them. What is the tolerance of what you are marking down? And even if you have the report they can always claim you added that in.
Today we saw a 2000 jeep grand Cherokee in for a overheat. Back story is the customer came in last year (end of last or beginning of this) for a low oil pressure concern. After looking at the vehicle it was found the cooling system was completely chocked full of rust/contamination. Customer states vehicle was low on oil causing low oil pressure, we drained approximately 18 qts of engine oil from the vehicle, the engine oil was actually over the cam. (No oil/water contamination. The vehicle also fails a block test so the head is removed and a blown head gasket is found (visibly blown). we flush the cooling system with vc9 a Ford flush solvent and then follow up with subsequent flushes using bg products. The system had been neglected for a long time and even after the head had been hot dipped and radiator replaced we still had contaminates present but it was much less severe than initially seen. The customer was under time constraints and demanded to complete the flush himself.
Skip forward to last month and the vehicle comes in for a boil overflow. Over flow hose chopped over the fan (looking back I probably wouldn't have accepted a decline on the fan shroud), cooling system and system contaminated again. My first though is blown head gasket or cracked head. Test for combustion gas in cooling system with none present, run vehicle to operating Temps and test drive, return to the shop and no combustion gas in coolant. Cooling system slightly pressurized after test drive but not extreme. However when engine was shut off coolant rushed out into the overflow. Cooling system pressure was watched and operated within range. flushed again and replaced the cap. Fixed all the other small issues and gave it back. Comes back today with combustion gas in coolant and violent expulsion of coolant. Thinking now we've got a cracked head which isn't all that uncommon.
As I mentioned above the head was checked by a machine shop and they were aware of all symptoms present. I was billed for pressure testing, magnaflux and surfacing.
Now I'm prepared to accept partial liability to save face, and looking back I likely would have handled the first job differently. I'm thinking of covering labor (parts store is covering the gasket set) and letting the customer find and pay for the head, or we'll sell a reman with markup. This won't be painful as the job is fairly easy and straight forward and we do quite a few. Honestly the customer (and family) are a little sketchy and the can become verbally agressive and even when given a typical quote are know to go off. They'll accuse you of damaging their vehicle and driving all the gas out, go shop to shop cussing about the last.
My questions are A: how do I word this to the customer to save face and avoid. I'm currently thinking about pointing out the huge discount directly after mentioning the head purchase.
B: should the customer cover coolant and fluid expenses?
C: is it truly a fair deal for the customer that we're paying labor and parts with the exception of the head?
D: cylinder 6 was scored last head removal, should I push for a whole engine job to cover my but and avoid being married to this thing forever?
I've considered the fact that we're not truly to blame here, and that the machine shop missed a crack, or it just occurred, and the warranty is nearly expired. But no more of an issue is it will be for us to handle it I don't see why not help a customer out.
Any advice is greatly appreciated. I've never had any professional service writer training so this forum is extremely valuable!
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Customer brings vehicle in after had just fixed his climate control problem (bad heater valve). About a week later his concern is that he is leaking a lot of oil. He was previously leaking oil but got tremendously worse in only a few days. He did not blame us for it but wanted to get the leak fixed.
We diagnose the issue to be his valve cover gaskets and upper timing case cover gaskets. The vehicle is a 2008 4.8L x5. The engines in this car is crammed into the engine bay so visibility is very poor.
I spoke to the customer and I told him we were confident they are leaking however there may be another leak. The job was rather expensive and is a tough job to do but the customer authorized. Fast forward to the job being done, we are still getting a massive oil leak. The gaskets we replaced were definitely leaking no question however it seems the oil leak in question is coming from sort of distribution block on the side of the engine block in the middle of the engine that you can only see through a small opening from the bottom of the vehicle.
Due to the location of the leak, it would not have been determined if we did not do the timing case cover gaskets and valve cover gaskets as we would have probably still singled out those parts. I try my best to explain to customer that oil leaks happen from top to bottom and in cases where the engine is soaked on a whole side of the engine we can't rule out multiple leak points.
The fix is looking to be a time consuming one. How would you guys break the news to the customer? How would you charge? The customer's budget is already stretched and I feel terrible as we were very confident that was the cause of the major leak.
By 5 Star Auto Spa
About a month ago one of my newer general service techs ended up doing an oil change on a vehicle and did not fill it with oil and pulled it out. The customer ended up going down the block and had to stop the vehicle and call us. We told him to wait where he was and NOT to drive the vehicle and we would send a technician out to where he was located. He ended up driving the vehicle back to our shop. Our lead technician poured oil into the vehicle but noted that there was a ticking noise that sounded like it could be from driving the vehicle with no oil. Instead of trying to piece meal the repair, we decided to buy the customer a replacement engine with the same mileage that the vehicle had when it came for the initial oil change. We ended up replacing the engine and verifying that the sound was gone before returning the vehicle back to the customer. That happened about a month ago and just a couple days ago the customer called in stating the vehicle is over heating. From the way he spoke on the phone and interacting with this customer, it seems as though he believes anything that goes wrong with the vehicle, even if it is not related to what we replaced, should be covered by us. I know we made the initial mistake (that tech is no longer with our company), but I feel as though we have done our due diligence to give the customer back the vehicle in the same condition he brought it to us. Do we continue to fix this customers vehicle? Do you tell him that we have done everything we are going to do? How have you or would you handle this type of situation?