Windshield repairWhat does it mean to be a Responsible Car Owner? It begins by understanding what you need over what you want emotionally. Start by asking, what is your ultimate goal of the car you own, transportation or looks?

Think back to the day you bought it, did you really know what you were buying? You either bought on desperation, looks or functionality. Once you audit your reasoning, you will begin to understand what value you own!

When you’re purchasing a vehicle, the question is always what’s your color choice and what options do you want? When that question is presented, you are automatically boxed in to choose one side of a two sided binary choice! At that very moment, you’ve made the choice that Vanity is your ultimate value! When your looking to purchase a vehicle do you really know what you need or are you acting as if you believe you know what you want?

Look Ahead

Lets jump forward to driving and owning your vehicle 1-2-3 years. What type of habits have you fallen into that would make you repeat the cycle to buy another vehicle? In our automated age, it’s painstakingly difficult to grasp how and what is involved in maintaining and being a responsible car owner. With the rise of the convenience culture, we can only wonder if the newer generation of auto consumers be patient enough to get un-uberized.

I have an optimistic view of the future of auto repair. We are currently living in very epic times when it comes to technology. Older Consumers are struggling to keep up, yet there’s this unspoken hope that it’s never to late to learn. If we remove all the commercialized dishonesty, what we are left with is something very authentic.

Empower Yourself

We certainly cannot change the past, but we can empower ourselves to understand how to become better car owners and take responsibility of taking care of it. Yes, we know that horrible feeling of being motionless at a repair shop’s customer lounge waiting to hear the potentially expensive news about your car can be very nerve-wracking. That feeling comes from feeling like you’re at the mercy of the mechanic. Just like waiting in your doctor’s office, you have no idea what’s to come or how you’re actually going to understand what your about to be told. But car repair doesn’t have to be such an unpleasant ordeal.

Allowing yourself to be empowered with a little knowledge will go a long way for being a responsible car owner. Start with skimming through your owner’s manual of the basics, don’t be intimidated to ask questions and most importantly, learn to request an explanation in lames terms. This will make you more confident the next time you at your repair shop. One of the biggest mistakes you can do is chase the price! Don’t do that! Instead look to build a relationship through honest and open dialogue. As a car owner, you need value more than the discounts. Discounts are temporary but being a responsible car owner and getting empowered is forever! Regardless of the price, it’s clear to any car owner that the unified understanding is about safety.

Loyalty Matters

They key is to be loyal to one shop your trying to build a relationship with. That loyalty goes a long way to not only build trust but for the repair facility to know your vehicle better than you. They will have history of what’s been done and what you have been holding off on. Hopping from shop to shop chasing a discount will subject you to getting ripped off. You need a repair facility that is a giver not a mechanic shop that is a taker.

Here are some straight forward tips about repair shops that you need to know to help guide you into a trusting relationship.

Basic Flat Rate Billing

What is flat rate billing? There’s a history behind the development of the flat rate system, but *yawn*, we don’t need to go into that. Simply put, the repair shop has a set hourly labor rate that is matched to billable labor hours based on the automotive industries labor guide. Your first line of defense: ask for an itemized estimate of how much for parts and how much for labor. This will help you understand what you’re actually paying for and gauge what makes sense and what doesn’t. If you don’t understand, ask for a detailed explanation! If they decline or dismiss your question, walk away!

Communication versus Explanation

The more you share as the car owner the less it will cost you. Try not be vague by saying “I don’t know, it just sounds funny” “I have no idea, I’m not a mechanic” these statements are no-no’s! Get to know what your vehicles problems or concerns. Make sure to takes notes of when it acts up, details like only going up hill or only while braking.

Repair shops do not have a magic thing-a-majig to put into the car and it tells you everything. The repair shop has to start with process of elimination. They must go through the vehicle system until they find the end result of what’s failing. But, if you buy pass the “I’m not sure” and go right to properly and honestly sharing the details, the repair shop will go right to the source and help diagnose the problem quicker and cheaper than chasing their tails and charging you for it.

Audit the Repair Facility

Sure, they have big signs; clean looking parking lot and great website, but who’s running the shop? Ask if it’s an owner operator facility. If they have a service manager, a shop manager and foreman, then it usually means you have 3 people to go through before you get an honest answer. You need to know that you can directly talk to the owner if and when needed.

Ask, how long have their technicians been there? If they have 4 or 5 employees but the longest employee has been there a year or less for a shop that’s been operating over 10 years, it’s a big clue that something is not right. The auto industry has two kinds of employees and though they both do the same thing; they are two different personalities that will affect your wallet. The technician is the person working on your vehicle and is the person that relays the information to the shop owner, manager or service advisor. The key is to know that both the technicians and the owners are on the same page of running the business on understanding and not controlling.

~ Parallels of fear can cost you dearly. Once you see the value, your decisions will be very easy ~