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Hello all,

 

I had a few concerns when it comes to test driving a customers vehicle for various reasons (diagnostic, test drive, overheating, noise, etc). Do you limit the length of time (minutes) a technician/mechanic is allowed to test drive a customers vehicle or the amount of times a technician/mechanic can test drive a customers vehicle? Any thoughts or opinions?

 

 

Also, would you test drive a customers vehicle if the plates/tags/registration/etc are expired? How would you handle this situtation after you have repaired the vehicle? or about to repair it?

 

Thanks in advance for your answers.

 

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Length of time for test drive will be dictated by what kind of problem the car is having, and the technician. If the technician is out joy riding, that's a different story.

 

Do not drive if the car is not legal. In some areas, the car will be impounded, no questions asked, if the car is not insured and/or registered.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We determine the length of test drive by what the customer complaint is. Same with after repair test drive. Some just need to be driven a mile or two to confirm the repair, others need to be driven a few miles to complete the repair.

 

We dont drive the vehicle if it has no/expired plates. If the vehicle comes in with no fuel, it is not test driven. If it is necessary to test drive to diagnose or confirm repair, the customer is charged for the fuel. If the vehicle doesnt need to be driven or run very much, I tell the customer that they need to go to a gas station after they pick the vehicle up or to bring gas with them. Then I ask them not to bring the vehicle in with under 1/4 tank of fuel.

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I would never drive a vehicle that had expired tags or no plate at all. With the exception of just in front of the shop. (I'm on a side street) But no further than in front of the shop.

 

One thing to add to the "out of gas" deal... it's a car that is not safe for the road. I may be diagnosing a transmission shift problem but the tires are showing metal, or the tie rods are so loose they look like they could fall out anytime. I won't work on them. Usually I'll call the customer and have them remove the car. A typical issue is somebody worried about a wiring problem under the hood and the motor mounts are so bad the main harness looks more like a tow rope than a harness. And, of course, they don't want the mounts replaced they want the wiring fixed...ah, ain't happenin'

 

Over the past 30 years I've had to customers cars get hit while on test drives... both were resolved. It ain't fun though.

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The test drive should be long enough to check all major items on the car, but short enough to not waste time. We normally limit our test drives to 5-10 miles. Any more than that and we contact the customer so that they are aware of the extra miles. If a car is out of gas, we will add some and charge the customer if it is a customer that we know. First time customer, we always call for approval. Test drives during bad weather are limited and we will document the RO. Having a customer car get wrecked is not fun. I agree with Gonzo.

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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