IAC Blog & Articles

After-sales in automotive; a customer guide.

Posted On: August 16, 2019

Why this guide? A car is a car, right? It’s a little more complicated than that. The automobile is very likely the most complex machine you come in contact with on a daily basis.  


These machines have upwards of 30,000 individual parts. By comparison, the human body has 206 bones. Your car also has up to and some 100 or so electronic controllers and computers. The number of individual lines of computer code and can exceed 100,000,000. Compared to the space shuttle that has just over 40,000 lines of code or an F35 fighter jet with 23,500,000.  


Over the years I’ve heard lots of customers complain that their dealer or mechanic “just can’t find the problem,” and often ask, “I explained what was wrong, why can’t they find it?!”  


If your car has an issue, time is money. When you take it to the shop and they run tests and try to pinpoint the problem, this alone can be expensive. Sure, if the car is under warranty the repair doesn’t come out of your pocket, but your time is still valuable.  


If they can’t find it the first time, then you’re forced to drop your vehicle off multiple times, leading to untold frustration and inconvenience. To avoid this, here are five tips for taking your car to be repaired or serviced that can save you time, money, and aggravation.  



Tip 1- Beware of the online “experts” 

You’ve heard the phrase “don’t believe everything you read” and that’s especially true with the Internet. When using the web to better understand what is wrong with your car and when investigating replacement parts, the Internet is littered with online experts. While well-intentioned, anyone can post an opinion. For automotive sites, chat forums and blogs about vehicle repairs, terms like “common problem” or “they all do that” are commonplace but are rarely statistically accurate.  


Tip 2- Be patient 

When booking, a little patience can go a long way. If your vehicle is being serviced, take five minutes to think about what else on the vehicle should be looked into. Does the car do something different since it was last serviced? Are there noises or behaviours that you have noticed?  


Once you have all this information make the call to book the appointment. This will allow the dealer to set the appropriate time to get all the items resolved. If you hang up and then think of something, don’t wait until you drop it off to mention it. Phone or e-mail your contact at the dealer to add it to the repair order because it might change how they plan for the appointment. 


Tip 3 – Note the details 

When booking for a repair, pay attention to the details. For example, if you hear a noise from under the car, are there particular instances that the noise happens? Reversing? Going forward? What speed? Turning the wheel left or right? Which gear are you in?  


For any subjective complaint – noises or feelings that the car is doing something out of the ordinary, a funny gear change, or a cell phone issue, be prepared to demonstrate this to the dealer or the technician that is going to be working on your car. 


If you can’t consistently reproduce the problem, it’s not likely the dealer is going to be able to either. This is why tip 2 is so important. It might only happen when the vehicle has sat overnight, or when the engine temperature is low.  


That’s why casually driving it to the dealer makes showing an issue problematic. Any reputable dealer will ask you to demonstrate these types of issues so that they can get a clear understanding for themselves. 


Keep a notebook in the glovebox and note when it happens. I use my notepad function on my phone for these things. Referring to such notes will make it clearer when you try to explain it. You can also take a video, sound file, or picture to describe a problem.  


Any of these are helpful and often preferable to you making hand gestures or sound effects. All of these details will help the team at the dealer determine the possible causes for your complaint. Armed with this information, they will take out the guesswork and inevitably find and repair your problem faster, and more cost effectively. 


Tip 4  Owners manual  

Owner’s manual I hear you say. I prefer to call it an instruction manual. Call me a geek, but I take the time to read this for functions in the car and each time I get a new car I discover cool features. I can’t tell you how many times over the last 26 years I’ve shown a customer something in their car that is clearly described in the manual and is not a flaw of the vehicle.  


If there is a function that seems strange because your previous vehicle didn’t operate that way, then take the time to read that section of the manual. In many cases you will find that although it might not be how you expect it to work, it’s not a defect, it’s simply the way it was designed. 


Tip – Not all parts are made equal 

Be wary of “upgrades” from the aftermarket. They should at least match the manufacturer’s warranty for the part. (Most manufacturers give a two-year unlimited mileage warranty for replacement parts.) Some aftermarket parts are better than the OEM parts, and if this is the case, they should come with a guarantee that reflects this quality.


Please feel free to drop us a line at International Automotive consulting with your comments on this article.