Do you remember my words of advice regarding an oil change in March's article? Have you heeded that advice? Are you making sure you are going in for this important service at proper intervals? Not only is an oil change essential to the health of your vehicle, but many places offer another important service with your oil change - a courtesy check. Do you understand the great value of this service? Read on and discover how beneficial this is to you.
A courtesy check for your vehicle is much like a dental cleaning for your teeth. When you visit your dentist twice yearly for your cleaning, what is it that you hope for? Most of us want to have that nice bubble gum-flavored cleaning without the mention of any problems, right? As your dental hygienist is buzzing around in there, she is doing more than cleaning. She may be seeing a little tartar here, a little plaque there and, oh yes, a cavity.
Then she whispers her findings to the dentist and he shares this disturbing news to you. Ugh! Certainly that was not what you expected to hear. Or was it? Has it been a while since you were in and maybe you knew something like this might be discovered? Maybe that's why you have been putting it off - even for years. Now, instead of catching it at an early stage, you have a big ol' cavity that has made it to the root and you need more than just a cavity fill. Bad news indeed.
But what would have happened if you got in sooner? Perhaps a better outcome? This is one of the reasons why dentists recommend twice yearly cleanings.
Likewise, auto-homes recommend an inspection of your vehicle with oil changes. This courtesy check is like a mouth cleaning, but for your vehicle. Quality auto shops want to keep you apprised of what your vehicle needs to keep it running at optimal health. Doing this at regular intervals (with oil changes) helps ensure you will be aware of any problems now or in the future. Plus, many auto-homes do this as a "courtesy," meaning they do not charge extra for it. That is like going to the dentist and hearing that you have to pay for the bubble gum paste, but the cleaning is free! Bonus!
What they cover
The inspection performed is an overall evaluation of a vehicle's most common wear, maintenance and safety items. This includes all exterior lighting, tire condition and pressures, belts and hoses, fluids and filters and a visual inspection of other areas. Some auto-homes will even top off fluids while they are looking things over - another bonus!
Your auto-home has an inspection form they use to assist them in being sure the inspection is done the same with each vehicle every time. The technician will mark each item as good, not so good or bad. He will also notate any specifics of a certain problem area. Doing a thorough job of documentation allows for good communication between the entire team, thereby ensuring the customer is appropriately advised.
A good auto-home's main desire is to educate you of any problem areas so you can make an informed decision you are comfortable with based on your circumstances. If money is tight, a good auto-home will help you by sharing which needs are immediate and which ones can wait a while for repair or they may even have a financing plan if you'd like to go that route. If time is an issue, a future appointment can be scheduled or they may even have a courtesy shuttle to take you to your home or work.
Just like a dentist, your auto-home wants to tell you what you want to hear, but that's not always possible. Dentists recommend "maintenance" services (cleanings) to help prevent bigger issues or halt them before they get too big. Auto-homes recommend the same because they want to help you save money in the long run. Maintenance is extremely important with a vehicle. Check out my article on maintenance if you haven't already.
Responding to recommendations
Have you ever questioned the validity of a recommended service? I know I have. I wonder, how did a cavity appear when I was just in six months ago? They never mentioned it before! Then the dentist drags out that new X-ray and voila, he shows me evidence that a cavity is lurking. He isn't just making it up to make extra money.
It is the same with your auto-home. Just because the last time you visited they recommended an air filter and this time they are recommending a belt does not mean they are ripping you off. If you have a question about a recommended service, simply ask to see it. They will be happy to show you. If they aren't, you should consider finding a shop that is. Trusting your auto-home is important. Good auto-homes are honest and they strive to exceed customer expectations in order to earn repeat business.
What are your expectations? Do you prefer not to have a courtesy check? Tell them, but keep in mind something important could be discovered during that check that is cheaper to fix now rather than later. Is there something you would like checked besides the "normal" items? Tell them. Brakes are sometimes not included as a "normal" part of the courtesy check. So if you have concerns, be sure to bring them up. Are you in a time crunch? Tell them. Or look for an auto-home that offers an express lane to get you in and out faster. We all know time is money … how long are you willing to wait for your oil change/courtesy check?
Being sure your expectations are clear and reasonable will enable your auto-home to better suit your needs. This is their biggest desire. Auto shops know that many people are not on top of maintenance needs, this is why they offer the courtesy check for free. Not many other industries offer this kind of value!
By Jeana Babcock