Auto Repair Ethics

We’re going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair.  Unfortunately, every profession has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else.  In the automotive world, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.

Yet some people are uncomfortable with automotive service and repair.  If we understand what’s recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we’ll have more trust in the recommendation.  So, communication is key.  It’s like going to the doctor.  If she’s using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following her train of thought.  It can be like that with your service advisor too.  He’s so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don’t know a PCV from an EGT.

If you don’t understand what your doctor’s talking about, ask some questions.  If you don’t understand what your automotive advisor’s talking about, ask some questions.

Let’s go back to those ethical standards.  When we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, “Is this really necessary?”  Well, here’s the industry standard:

If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required, it must meet the following criteria:

  1. The part no longer performs its intended purpose
  2. The part does not meet a design specification
  3. The part is missing

For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads.  After the inspection, the technician says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.  If you tried to get him to just put new pads on, he would say that if you didn’t want to replace the rotor, he would ethically have to refuse the repair.

To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong.  The brakes could’ve failed at anytime: they needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.

Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:

  1. The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
  2. To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
  3. To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer
  4. Based on the technician’s informed experience

Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers.  For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions.  More information is always a good thing.

Give us a call.

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