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How would you deal with this situation?


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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.

 

 

 

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All you can do is layout all the information for the customer to make a decision. We to have been in these situations and we do the best to assure the customer of our process. Explain to him your thought process in determining the leak, let him know that now that you have the other gaskets sealing you can now see the source of the last leak.

 

It is a very tricky situation and I hate when we have to deal with those issues but you have to remember that you are not the one causing the leaks. You are just there to fix the customers vehicle issues. If you would have found the main leak first you would still have to fix the smaller ones later....

 

I would try to get the customer to come to you for oil changes from now on, selling him the fact that during your routine oil change inspections you could have caught the leak in its beginning stages before it got as bad as it did.

 

Good luck!!

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Dustin said it, we are only there to make repairs. We did not buy, drive or maintain/not maintain the vehicle so why in the world would you pay for repairs. There is no way you could have seen that so it's not your fault at all. Remember that no good deed goes unpunished.

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On any fluid leaks that there are doubts as to the source we will often degrease and dye oil, ps fluid, coolant, etc. the vehicle is driven and then brought back. This often allows us to be more accurate in pinpointing the source of a leak.

 

Won't help in a situation when a vc is leaking that bad. There are times when there is just no way to tell, been there :/.

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I think it really comes down to prepping the customer before work begins. When there is a massive leak and its hard to tell, you tell the customer 'Look, when we get done, there may be some other leaks that we couldn't see.' Remember, you're not the one who has let the car leak oil for so long that now you can't tell where it's coming from. It is a result of their poor vehicle maintenance.

 

Like Xrac said, you can try degreasing the engine and reinspecting... And don't hesitate to charge for it! I recently had a customer come in with an oil leak, and it was covered in oil underneath from the radiator to the rear diff! I had to clean it off, I made him buy an oil change, and he is coming back in 100 miles... AND I told him it's still gonna be tough to tell. Remember, we're all human and we can't always be perfect, no matter how much the customer expects us to be.

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These types of situations are always tricky. It seems as though you got a "feel" for the customer even prior to performing the initial leak repair. Although what every shop owner on this forum has told you is true (you did not cause the repair), depending on the customer, a number of them will believe that when a repair shop tells them there is a leak at a certain place, they expect it to fix the leak even if you had previously told them that there could be other places where the vehicle is leaking. It sounds like this customer owns a vehicle that he does not have enough money to maintain the vehicle which always adds to the problem. Because this individual SEEMS like this type of customer (whether its based on financial reasons or whatever), if I were you, I would try and give him a discount on the labor portion for the new repair. I know that we all work to be compensated but in the customers mind it will help ease the blow of the new repair total cost. Obviously the discount amount is something that you feel would be appropriate.

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Customer perception is huge in a situation like this. If you did prepare him that there could be more leaks, that will help. You will still need to discount the job to make things right, but the focus now need to be "Lets get the car fixed and back to the customer, and make the customer happy" We have absorbed the cost of additional repairs to keep a customer happy, but that is on a case by case basis. Make the customer happy so that he keeps coming back. Any lost $$ will be made up in the future.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
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      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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