Exploring Customer Concerns

As a customer, understanding your concern is crucial, and providing precise information can greatly assist your mechanic throughout the repair process.

Step 1: Identify The Concern

Concerns are the symptoms that have led to your decision to seek repairs. These symptoms can be related to any of your senses: sight, sound, smell, or touch. It’s important to note that a concern is not your diagnosis or the specific repair you’re requesting.

For instance, if you hear a grinding noise when you apply the brakes and suspect worn brake pads, your actual concern is the grinding noise itself.

Seems straightforward, right?

Step 2: Describe The Concern

While providing your symptoms is a good starting point, it’s not the whole story for your mechanic. To fully comprehend and replicate the concern (which we’ll discuss later), your mechanic needs context regarding the symptom.

Think back to your elementary school days when writing invitation cards. Remember the questions: Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How? Those questions satisfied our friends’ parents, and the same applies to your mechanic.

  • Who: Who experienced the symptom? (If not yourself, it’s secondhand information)
  • What: What type of symptom was experienced? (Unusual sight, sound, odor, or sensation)
    • What were the road and weather conditions? (Speed bumps, gravel, rain, snow)
  • Where: Where did the symptom originate? (Front-right, rear-left, steering wheel, brake pedal)
    • Where was the vehicle when the symptom occurred? (Highway, parking lot, stop-and-go traffic)
  • Why: Why is this a concern? (Is it bothersome, appears unsafe, advised by others)
  • When: When did the symptom occur during the day? (Morning, afternoon, evening, night)
    • When operationally does it happen? (During turns, acceleration, coasting, braking, idling)
  • How: How frequently does the symptom occur? (Often, intermittently, rarely)
    • How warmed-up was the engine? (Cold, at operating temperature, overheating)

While not all of these questions will always be applicable, it’s best practice to be observant of these factors and convey relevant information when necessary.

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Uncovering the Cause

Determining the cause of your concern falls within the mechanic’s domain. This is where the mechanic takes all the information you’ve provided during the “concern” step and sets out to isolate the source of the problem.

Step 3: Validate the Concern

The first task is to “validate the concern,” which becomes considerably more manageable with comprehensive symptom context. If the concern cannot be replicated, any recommended repairs would essentially be educated guesses, with uncertain outcomes.

Some issues are frustratingly intermittent. Ever wondered why a problem never seems to occur when you want to demonstrate it?

Interestingly, there’s a somewhat humorous “Mechanic’s Curse” that suggests your concern will magically disappear when a mechanic is around.

Years ago, a customer of mine was convinced that this curse was real after I joined her for three separate test drives on three different days without being able to witness her concern. Eventually, she humorously offered to pay me to accompany her indefinitely to “fix” the issue (to which I politely declined). The point is that sometimes these occurrences are beyond the mechanic’s control, and it’s not due to any curse.

Once the concern is successfully reproduced, the diagnostic testing phase begins.

Step 4: Investigate the Concern

The specific tests conducted depend on the nature of the problem. For example, addressing a warning light concern typically involves intricate circuit testing following the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) prescribed procedure. On the other hand, diagnosing a rattling noise typically involves a series of physical checks for looseness.

A seasoned automotive technician relies on knowledge, experience, and reference materials to determine the most appropriate approach to diagnose your specific issue.

Additionally, it’s important to address the notion of a “diagnostic machine.”

There’s a widespread belief that a magical tool exists in a mechanic’s toolkit that can pinpoint the exact faulty component, requiring nothing more than plugging it into the vehicle. If such a device truly exists, mechanics worldwide are eager to know about it!

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The Path to Resolution

Once the root cause of your concern has been successfully pinpointed, the technician will propose a course of action to correct the issue.

This correction can take the form of a physical repair, an adjustment, recalibration, or a necessary software update. With the repair executed, the final step, often the most underestimated and overlooked, is to validate the repair.

Step 5: Validate the Repair

“Validating the repair” shares similarities with “verifying the concern,” as discussed in our earlier section, but there are distinctions.

Validation of the repair encompasses ensuring that your initial concern no longer persists and that no new issues have arisen. Neglecting this crucial step could lead to a return visit, often referred to as a “comeback.”

In the realm of automotive repair, a comeback carries a certain level of stigma. While mechanics wish to establish long-term relationships with customers, they prefer it not to be due to misdiagnoses or other mistakes.

However, it’s important to note that not all comebacks result from workmanship errors; sometimes, an underlying issue can be masked by the initial problem.

Nevertheless, it’s standard practice to conduct a comprehensive test drive of the vehicle following a repair to uncover any potential issues. Professional mechanics take pride in ensuring that your concern is truly resolved and that you are informed about any other matters that might warrant future attention.

To summarize:

  1. You identify the concern and provide relevant details.
  2. The mechanic verifies the concern and identifies the cause.
  3. The mechanic proposes a correction and addresses the concern.
  4. The repair is validated to ensure the concern is genuinely resolved.

In conclusion, I trust that this article has provided valuable insights into the automotive repair process. Recognizing the importance of the customer’s role and understanding the steps involved empowers you to collaborate more effectively with the mechanic, ultimately facilitating the restoration of your vehicle to its optimal condition.