1. Prepare an estimate first, diagnose later.
2. Diagnose first and then estimate.
The answer to this seems so obvious as to not be worthy of discussion but there are many who want the first option!
“Car won’t run so how much is a fuel pump replacement?” This question does NOT include a useful diagnosis.
For more on this topic see “What if?” post.
We get a lot of requests to prepare estimates for two scenarios where, IMHO, preparing an estimate is a poor use of our time.
For a fairly complex repair a proper estimate takes considerable time in that we have to search for the best quality parts and search multiple sources for price and timely availability. No Autozone or similar starters or alternators! BEST QUALITY ONLY! You don’t want to bring back a vehicle for a warranty repair that could have been prevented with quality parts. We don’t want to do the job twice and get paid only once. The labor operations have to be looked up. If we have seen the vehicle and it has been diagnosed by us we are more than happy to go to this trouble. When the diagnosis sounds extremely improbable and comes from a less than impeccable source, then preparing an estimate based on “But what if?” is a waste of time.
The second category is all too common. Somebody brings a relatively low mileage and reliable vehicle such as a Honda or Toyota to the dealer for an air bag recall or maybe a discounted oil change, and is presented with a laundry list of recommended services totaling hundreds or event thousands of dollars. They would like us to go through the list and hope we can quote it for less. There is a problem with this way of thinking. Either you trust the service writer at the dealership — who is paid 100% on commission, by the way — to be on your side or you don’t. If you don’t have that trust and feel the dealership wants to charge you more than a fair rate for the services, how can you trust that the services are important or even serve any purpose whatsoever? In fact a simple check of the factory maintenance schedule will usually confirm that the great bulk of these are NOT recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. This applies to just about anything defined as a “flush,” or “fuel injection service.” If you pay too much to have your car serviced at the dealership, a less than ethical independent shop or a franchise, 90% of the time the reason is NOT that the parts or labor operations are too expensive but that they are not necessary.
Why not this? Just let us check out the vehicle and we will commit to preparing an estimate that will generate us a fair profit so we can stay in business and at the same time contain no labor operations or parts that do not serve a legitimate purpose in keeping your vehicle running well for as long as possible.
Thanks for reading and considering this! Don