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33-How Much Does It Cost…?

…to fix my (fill in the blank)? This is a question we get all too frequently in the automotive repair business.

The first question that any competent service writer would ask is, “How do you know that is the problem?” The answer to that question can vary quite a bit but it usually involves a friend or family member’s opinion. Or, sometimes it’s “that’s what the guy at the parts store said it was,” or my favorite is, “that’s what the tow truck driver said.”

How do these folks know these things? Are they highly skilled, trained automotive technicians? Perhaps they just moonlight as tow truck drivers or counter
salesmen. Modern automobiles have so many systems and sub-systems that even problems that seem simple, aren’t.

The modern technician needs to have as much input from the vehicle’s daily driver as possible. This conversation can last from 5-15 minutes and then add on a test drive.
And, this is before anyone lays a hand on the car. From there the car has to be inspected on a lift or in a service bay. Next it needs to be analyzed for where things (conditions) are currently, and then we try to duplicate or replicate the issues. Then and only then can we figure out what is wrong and what course of action might be necessary to fix it.

So how much does it cost? Still don’t know yet. Now we may need to ask you a few more questions confirming our findings and perhaps getting some more information
regarding previous repairs at other shops. At this point we can finally do all of the remaining research and quote you a price.

“How do other shops quote prices,” you ask? My response is always the same. I don’t know. And how could they? They know nothing about your car’s condition or history. Think about it. Do you want to know what’s wrong with your car or do you want to guess or hope? I don’t know about you, but my money, time, and my family’s safety is far more important than getting a cheap price for a repair or replacement of a part onmy car.

Think about it like this. If you call three places and ask for a price you will get three different answers (or if the shops are smart, no answer). What do the prices mean? Absolutely nothing! Because none of these shops know anything about your car’s specific condition. They just throw a price out there hoping that you will bite and they get the job. But what happens when you actually get there? The price almost always changes. You probably didn’t tell them the right things or they may say, “the parts cost more than we thought”. At that point you are in for a ride, as we call it in the industry. You took the low price and now you are hooked.

So what are your options? First, find a repair shop that you can trust. Explain the symptoms or problems as best you can. Go for a test drive if possible to duplicate the issues. Don’t be in a hurry if it is an intermittent issue. It often takes time to duplicate problems and even longer to find the causes. And, by all means, respect the professional shops time and be prepared to pay a reasonable inspection fee in addition to the repair cost. (At times the diagnosis is harder than the repairs.)

In regards to the aforementioned “How much does it cost?” the answer from the repairman’s side should always be, “Not a penny more than it should.” If we schedule an appointment to inspect the car, more than likely we will be able to give you an accurate quote. Until that time, it’s anyone’s guess as to how much “it” costs.

For a complete analysis of your car, truck or RV, call Sturken Auto today.

Why guess when it comes to repairing your car?

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