Servicing Tips - Service Standards
How Does Oil Changers Know What to Recommend for your car?
When you drop your vehicle off at Oil Changers they don't just poke around under your hood looking for stuff to do. The friendly technicians at Oil Changers have lists and procedures they follow for different types of services. First of all they will note the mileage on your vehicle. They'll then check to see what inspections and services the vehicle's manufacturer recommends for a vehicle of your make, model and mileage. If you are a regular customer, they will also check your vehicle's service history.
If the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations go beyond the services you've ordered, they'll let you know. They'll also indicate whether those services are urgent or if you can wait a while to take care of them. They won't do work that you don't agree to.
They will, however, perform inspections while they're servicing your car. They'll check belts, filters and fluids. They'll check your windshield wipers for wear. They'll let you know if there's an urgent problem that needs taken care of, and they'll give you a heads-up about problems that might be developing and where to go to get them taken care of.
You can think of it like a trip to the dentist for a check-up. The dentist will check if you've had x-rays recently. If not, he'll get your permission to take new ones. Then the hygienist will clean your teeth and check your gums. At the end, the dentist comes in and inspects your teeth. You'll be told if you need any work done, about problems that are developing, and if anything is urgent. You'll be given different care options and recommendations on where to get work done that is beyond your dentist's usual purview. Then you'll be sent to the front desk for appointments and paperwork.
These procedures make sure your teeth are in good working order and that you are informed of any problems. Then you can make a decision as to what work you want done and when. Oil Changers operates in much the same way. They want drivers to be able to make informed decisions about their car care.
Preventive vehicle maintenance is a lot like dental check-ups. Small problems can quickly develop into big ones. A cavity becomes a root canal. A dirty filter becomes engine damage. Skipping check-ups for either your teeth or your vehicle can lead to repairs.
Oil Changers follows industry guidelines. A part is replaced only if it can no longer perform its function, no longer meets its design specifications or is missing – or if you ask. Your Oil Changers service advisor will recommend a part be replaced if it is showing signs that it will soon fail.
The next time you're heading to the dentist or doctor's office, think about the car you drove there in. Is it time for it to get a check-up, too?
PO Box 16686 Hornby
New Zealand, New Zealand 8441
Vehicle Servicing - The Ethics of Automotive Repair
We're going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. It seems like news outlets really like hit-and-run reporting; they hit everyone from groceries stores to retail to physicians and the automotive service and repair industry hasn't been given a pass either.
Unfortunately, every profession has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. On the automotive side, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.
Yet some people remain uncomfortable with automotive service and repair. It may start with the fact that our vehicles are a big investment and we rely on them for so much in our lives. That alone guarantees our attention. And how well we understand the recommendations really impacts our comfort level.
If we understand what's recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we'll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It's like going to the doctor; If the doctor is using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following their train of thought. It can be like that with your automotive service advisor too. He's so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don't know a PCV from an EGT.
If you don't understand what your doctor's talking about: ask some questions. If you don't understand what your automotive service advisor's talking about: ask some questions.
Let's go back to those ethical standards; when we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, "Is this really necessary?" Well, here's the industry standard:
If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:
- The part no longer performs its intended purpose
- The part does not meet a design specification
- The part is missing
For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.
If you tried to get him to simply put new pads on, he would say that if you didn't want to replace the rotor then ethically the service centre would have to refuse the repair.
To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could've failed at anytime and needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.
Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:
- The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
- To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
- To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer
- Based on the technician's informed experience
Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.
PO Box 16686 Hornby
New Zealand, New Zealand 8441
Customer Detective Work
One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician at Oil Changers is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.
Cars are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So, it's challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem and it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem. If it's not something obvious, it's easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.
Let Oil Changers introduce you to something we'll call 'Customer Detective Work' – that is helping your technician find clues to what's wrong.
We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me; You come in to Oil Changers and your car is making a funny sound...
- Q: Where's the sound?
- A: Around the right front wheel.
- Q: What kind of sound?
- A: Kind of a clunk, clunk sound.
- Q: When do you hear the sound?
- A: When I turn and accelerate.
- Q: Right and left? Forwards and back?
Do you see where we're going? You're gathering additional information to help your technician know where to start. Based on your car and the tech's experience, he'll know where to look and can start with the obvious suspects.
You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says "making a funny noise".
If the tech can experience the problem personally, he's better able to make a diagnosis and repair, and then test to see if the repair solved the problem.
Ask us for details.
PO Box 16686 Hornby
New Zealand 8441
On Board Diagnostics For Your vehicle
Today we're going to talk about on-board diagnostics and the questions we hear from people who need answers about diagnostic services. They want to know what diagnostics are, what's involved and what the benefits are. They really want to understand the value of a diagnostic scan on their vehicle by a trained technician.
These are valid concerns. If you don't understand something it's really hard to know its value. Let's start with some history.
Since the mid 90's, all cars and light trucks use a standardised diagnostic system to help repair technicians determine what's wrong with your vehicle. The diagnostic system works with the vehicle's Engine Control Module – the computer that controls many engine functions.
The computer monitors dozens of components and processes. Depending on what the sensors read, the computer will make adjustments to compensate for conditions and minor problems. When there is a condition that it can't adjust for, the computer will turn on the check engine light.
It is also called the 'service engine' light on some vehicles. The warning light signals you to get into your local service center so that the trouble code can be read and the problem can be fixed. Your service center will have a scan tool and powerful software that will help the technician diagnose the problem.
If you've searched for check engine light on the internet, you may have seen that you can buy an inexpensive scanner to read the trouble code and tell you exactly what's wrong.
That's a common myth. The code itself doesn't tell you what's broken. It starts you looking in the right place. It tells you what engine parameter is out of range – but it won't tell you what's wrong or how to fix it.
Let's say you think your daughter has a fever. You take her temperature and it reads 41 degrees. You've confirmed a fever, but you don't know what's causing it. Is it a 24 hour flu, an infection, appendicitis or leukemia? A fever is a symptom of all of these medical problems, but it takes a skilled physician's examination and additional diagnostic tests to find out what is actually causing the fever.
An example of a trouble code could be: P0133, which reads 'Bank 1 sensor 1 circuit slow response'. This means that the front oxygen sensor has a slow response time to changes in the air-fuel mix. If that's all you knew about cars, you would think your oxygen sensor was broken and would replace it. Now, it could be the oxygen sensor – but it could also be a bad or contaminated airflow sensor, exhaust leak, electrical problem, an intake manifold leak or any of a number of other things.
You can imagine a lot of oxygen sensors have been replaced because of that code. So the on-board diagnostics point the way to where the trouble lies, but it takes some skill and high-tech equipment to actually pinpoint the problem. The cheap scan tools that a consumer can buy do not have the ability to retrieve some of the operating history that's stored in the engine control computer. That history's very helpful in diagnosing the problem. Service centers invest a lot of money in high-end diagnostic tools to help solve the mystery and get you back on the road as soon as possible without replacing a lot of parts that don't need replacing.
So, on-board diagnostics provide a powerful starting place for a highly-trained, well-equipped technician to get to the bottom of your problem. When your check engine light comes on, get it checked. If the light burns steady – don't panic. Get in as soon as possible to have the engine scanned. A flashing check engine light means that there is a severe engine problem. Get in as soon as you can – waiting too long can lead to very expensive damage.
PO Box 16686 Hornby
New Zealand 8441