Catch 27

The Multi-Point vehicle inspection, the report card, what ever it is that you want to call it comes with a catch for an auto shop. A catch that most car owners don’t understand or don’t want to admit that they are in fact the cause of.

The stigma attached to this report is one of “overselling”, ripping people off, basically a tool to “up-sell” unsuspecting consumers. I have been in and around the car repair business most of my life but I have also seen the process if you will, as a guy that just needed a quick oil change.

When you take your car to a repair shop, a dealer, a tire shop…most of the time they are going to perform and inspection of the vehicle and some shops will actually ask you if you would like to have it performed, some will advise you that they are going to do it and some just do the inspection. It is almost always free and you should get a copy and an explanation of the findings, good and bad.

If you were to decline the vehicle inspection because you are in a hurry or because you already believe that you are being set up to be “sold”, I have news for you…they are going to inspect your car anyway or at least several primary areas. The reason they will do this is the first element of the catch, you see they could be considered accountable or liable for something that “goes wrong”, breaks, or causes any type of damage because they were the last “professionals” to look at or have the vehicle for service regardless of  a formal inspection process, your authorization or otherwise.

Even if a customer doesn’t make a legal issue out of something that happens after service, in their mind it was the shops fault for not finding the problem while it was there for service and that is the story they are going to tell their friends, family and co-workers.

Think about it, when is the last time you saw the underside of your vehicle and would you know what you are looking at if you did? Consumers should take advantage of the inspection and if skeptical of the findings, just get another opinion to verify it. There are check procedures that only a trained tech is going to know how to perform and have the tools to perform them.

A good example is checking transmission fluid. Some cars you check with the car running and some your don’t, some have a dip stick and others do not, some manufacturers tell you to check the fluid cold and some at operating temp.  How do you check a manual transmission or a differential that is part of the front wheel drive? With todays ever-changing technology, even technicians have to look it up sometimes.

It has always been this way…if I don’t inspect your vehicle and something falls off of it the next day, its my fault. If I inspect your vehicle and find that something is about to fall off, I am trying to rip you off. This is the catch 27. A shop is usually going to get blamed for this type of thing with or without a vehicle inspection unless….they reported the problem and you decline to have it fixed!

There it is, that is the reason for the inspection, it’s not designed to sell you things you don’t need although there are those shops that will “take advantage” and use the inspection in the wrong way. I do find that these days, with the increasing competition, online reviews, and just the fact that things are not as profitable as they use to be, most legit shops don’t do this sort of thing because they know it will eventually lead to them going out of business.

Now don’t get me wrong, If a shop finds something that needs repaired, they want you to say fix it since that is the business that they are in. In fact, a fair percentage of consumers will get an inspection during an oil change and then have any needed repairs completed at different shop or by their “regular” mechanic. For this reason, you may feel a little pressure or “value” adding in effort to get you to let them be your service vendor of choice and not that other guy.

My recommendation? Get the inspection, have the shop show you and explain what they see and get an itemized estimate. You can shop the estimate or if a big job, get another opinion at a different service shop.

Bottom line, if you feel you have a trust issue with a shop, you need to find another shop. Cars go through more abuse than you would think, no matter how well you maintain it, things are going to break and wear out. A car is a machine and it will break so take advantage of the free inspection from a professional. Heck, I wish my heating and air guy would offer such a deal!

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