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  • CHECK ENGINE LIGHTS

    Posted by sutton32-aol-com on January 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Question to all,

    How do you explain to customers the process of diagnosing a check engine light. Simple ones no problem, I am looking for what procedure is best for a complicated process. For instance;

    2005 Ford Explorer, Customer concern, light on difficult starting. Found code po420. Ran concern and code on Identifix, first hit. Check for proper operating temp, this vehicle only reaching 150 degrees. Explained this to customer, recommended t-stat and gasket to start. Then clear and reset, perform drive cycle and monitors did not run. Explained to customer in detail that there could be an underlying problem. They picked up vehicle only to return [pissed off].I have several hours trying to determine issue, with no prevail, still need time. The customer pulls vehicle from me to go dealer? I had to return the original diagnostic charge, what is everybodys policy on diagnostics?

    sdhager replied 11 years, 5 months ago 8 Members · 11 Replies
  • 11 Replies
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  • gcauto

    Member
    January 7, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Our policy is to get authorization for up to 2 hours of diagnostic time up front. We explain to the customer this gives us a starting point, they know we will not exceed the 2 hour time limit without calling them with an update. If we use the full 2 hours of time and still need additional, we will call at that time. However, if we don’t use the full 2 hours, we bill the customer only the amount of diagnostic time used plus parts and labor the correct the problem. We always explain to a customer that with a check engine light, if you replace 1 part it may not always fix the entire problem, there could be underlying issues that may require further diagnostic time. I always note this on the customer RO also. This seems to have worked for us over the past year or so.

  • Patrick McElroy

    Member
    January 9, 2011 at 2:26 am

    Hi Chip,

    There are a couple of customers out there that just won’t, or just can’t understand the best of explanations concerning their vehicle. I have dropped the word DIAGNOSIS from my shop jobs on the invoice to now read TESTING. For example, we explain to customers that we need time to perform TESTS to gather information that will lead us to a recommeded repair. The invoice only shows the “tests” along with fees that were performed to gather the information for the repair. The medical field never says they are performing “diagnostics”, they run tests and come up with a diagnosis based on those tests.

    I’ll bet the majority of your customers will give you the proper time necessary to fix their vehicle. Don’t let the occational “oddball” get you down. Accept them for who they are and just keep smiling.

  • Tom Ham

    Member
    January 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Read Pat’s reply again…well said.

    Too often, we focus on the occasional complainer. Just smile and do your best with them.

    If you are getting this often, then figure out why you are attracting a lot of them, or why your approach is not working well. It has to be confident and demonstrate polite authority.

  • sutton32-aol-com

    Member
    January 10, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Thanks to all that replied,

    I like the idea of using Tests instead of diagnostics. I will try to use this and see what happens.

    Tom interesting thought on attraction of customers, would like to hear more about this and what ways to find what customers we want to attract.

  • danrsauto

    Member
    January 11, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    We do bassically the same thing recieve up to two hours [ TESTING TIME ] also it is important always in suggesting the repair is to document [ AND RETEST SYSTEM / CODE CHECK ] after suggested repair this way your not locking yourself down to having them imply that that you stated it would fix entirely.

    Also provide them with the supporting documents of why you started thier. Identifix info / before and after spec’s of temp , if you can print out of your scanner provide before and after. 150 degree’s before – now 195 degree’s .

    Was a little confused why they came back , If they declined more testing time or did you delivered and still had same issue ?. We test all vehicles over nite if it is a cold start issue or job you should put a few miles on it we drive it home or a 20 mile road test. Time consuming but saves on comebacks – We pay a tech $5.00 per drive home plus they save fuel expense so it is a extra $10.00 a day for them . What does an unhappy client cost ?.

    We all have them few , but if your getting too many then you need to change verbiage or proceedures especially counter info to and from client. You would be suprised sometimes when you fire a client they become a better one. We explain not everyone is for us, we are not right for everyone and sometimes make suggestions of a shop that may fit thier needs better.

  • roebigd

    Member
    January 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    We also sell tests not diagnostics , We have a level 1,2,3 diagnostic

    procedure.

    We mostly sell the concept of testing to see what is working not what

    is wrong – Documenting what is working according to the tests

    performed keeps you from having to ever refund the charges.

    I have also worked in the medical field on an ambulance for 20 years

    and explain it to them in medical terms like they get at the Dr’s

    office which makes it easier for them to grasp the necessity of tests.

    This concept of verify what works allows you to move to the next level

    of testing which gets more and more involved as you move thru each

    level.

  • mbean

    Member
    January 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    > How do you explain to customers the process of diagnosing a check engine light. Simple ones no problem, I am looking for what procedure is best for a complicated process. For instance;

    Light on/difficult starting does not sound like a complicated problem!

    > 2005 Ford Explorer, Customer concern, light on difficult starting. Found code po420. Ran concern and code on Identifix, first hit. Check for proper operating temp, this vehicle only reaching 150 degrees. Explained this to customer, recommended t-stat and gasket to start.

    How did you explain a thermostat would correct his starting problem? I would look at a manual for code P0420 and understand it first.

    >Then clear and reset, perform drive cycle and monitors did not run.

    Why bother with a drive cycle?

    > Explained to customer in detail that there could be an underlying problem.

    What did you explain in detail- technical at customers level or you just guessed because…

    >They picked up vehicle only to return [pissed off].

    At least he is not cold and pissed off- the thermostat should have helped that at least.

    >I have several hours trying to determine issue, with no prevail, still need time.

    Now we can address your question- It has taken several hours to determine issue with no prevail. Is this a problem in the office, shop or intermittent problem with vehicle?

    >The customer pulls vehicle from me to go dealer? I had to return the original diagnostic charge, what is everybodys policy on diagnostics?

  • sutton32-aol-com

    Member
    January 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

    First off, I did not explain this would fix any problem. I did explain that I would have to start by getting the vehicles operating temperature to a normal and documented temperature. To start. Then I would have to go thru the next steps of diagnostics. When I finished with the t-stat repair, I did I drive cycle to see if the original code po420 reoccurred. Which it did not. Therefore I returned the vehicle to the customer and explained that I would like them to drive it and see if the fault or condition reoccurs. My crystal ball is out for repair and did not want to guess at cats? Though that was explained to the customer. I can figure out plenty of ways to screw up a process, I am looking for productive ways to fix my process.

    Thanks!

  • mbean

    Member
    January 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    “First off, I did not explain this would fix any problem”

    Chip,

    Lets start here. Always explain! During our testing we found “a problem” Always explain what problem they have and why correcting it is important. If needed or justified for your “diagnosis” call a time out. Let them own the problem and decide they want the solution. After this short time out to fix the thermostat you can go back to 1) his main complaint that brought him in.

    PS Your technician did fix a problem and the customer is reaping the rewards of an engine running at the proper temperature.

  • mbean

    Member
    January 15, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Let me start over- passion took over when I really didn’t have time to reply. I’m only in my 5th year in the management side of our business and facing the same struggle as you have described. We are all looking for the best way to communicate with our customers. We are all looking to be better at sales, getting paid for what we do and providing the customer what they want/need.

    There are a lot of gems in the others replies- especially Pat and Tom pointing out there will be some customers and some jobs that are outside of your normal clientele. Don’t dwell on these or reinvent yourself over these. I do like to reflect on any bad, unpleasant, or dissatisfied transaction and get better because of it. Again don’t dwell on the negative focus on the positive. This fellow that returned upset may be a customer you need to fire. On the other hand (he went back to the dealer) he may be a great customer that just needs results.

    It would be great if we could all do like Cheryl- 2 hr up front and not chase away potentially good customers. Competition is to stiff in our town. Diagnostics is an area all to its own. Consider all the problems it presents- You need a highly trained and motivated technician with the proper equipment at his disposal- yet you are recovering labor only. Some jobs are not cut and dry especially when you add in the intermittent. How do we bill and still be truthful- our normal labor rate, one and a half, two times?

    The idea of tests rather than diagnostics works good for most people- I think it goes back to “technician thinking” even before George made it so popular. The bottom line is “what the customer wants” in the example you used- I picked up “difficult starting” as a top priority and “light on” as a secondary concern.

    I am going to be a little critical and possibly harsh- not intended to offend only make you and yours better. The P0420 is one of the most cut and dry codes a mechanic can come across. He has a bad converter. The info you got from Identifix refers to what can cause the converter to fail. Look at the list Ford gives- all these should be checked and corrected before installing a replacement converter. Ford also gives this advice- compare upstream and downstream switch rate and amplitude. As catalyst efficiency deteriorates, its ability to store oxygen declines and the downstream O-2 sensor begins to mirror the upstream. When the rate and amplitude go beyond acceptable- bam code P0420. Here is a opportunity to show (visual) a good converter scan trace and his failed. Now you can charge and present evidence! You can also look at bank 2’s condition and make a recommendation based on evidence.

    OK- all that behind us- lets get back on track with the spirit of the post.

    First Question Again -What is the best way to clearly communicate with our customers- what we are going to do for them to solve their “problem or want” and what we expect them to pay for these services.

    What should be expected of us as service advisors- what should we expect from our technicians?

    What’s up with all the “underlying conditions”? Is this to cover up our lack of product knowledge, training and equipment? Is it an easy way to say intermittent problems break all the above rules. Is it to cover us for the truly difficult problems we do encounter, are trained and equipped for. (the ones that make us feel like superman when we get the break through and then usually leave us eating beans and rice when we realize how much time we spent and don’t or can’t bill for)

    I like the rest of you are looking for that golden process- the one that brings customers with financial potential in, prevents misunderstanding, promotes a raving customer for life and works 80% of the time.

    I am writing this in hopes it helps you and also for my own benefit. I am in the middle of a very difficult diagnosis- with a difficult customer that has the means but- does not understand the complexity and I don’t think even cares to. He just wants results, wants them now and would prefer not to have to pay that price.

  • sdhager

    Member
    January 18, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    You put a thermostat in trying to fix a P0420? I would be pissed also.

    Check for any possible computer updates and replace the converter. Ask the customer if the car is burning oil, make sure fuel trims are normal and vehicle runs good with no misfires. Any of the above items will spell an early demise for a good converter.

    It doesn’t do any good to sell testing time if you cannot diagnose the car properly. Make sure that every detail is explained to the customer.