Some people may be confused by charges for diagnostic services for a vehicle repair, even though many other services in life include diagnostic fees – things like computer service and appliance repair.
Even when we go into the doctor for a medical problem, we’re paying her to diagnose our ailment and of course for the tests that go along with it. So receiving a diagnostic charge for a tricky automotive problem shouldn’t be a surprise.
Automotive diagnostics can cover quite a range. If you hear a noise in your brakes, a quick visual check is usually enough to know what needs to be done. If you’re having an intermittent problem with your engine, diagnosis may be much more involved.
Some think that when the check engine light comes on, the engine computer tells the technician exactly what the problem is. The reality is much different. The trouble code just tells your technician what engine parameter is out of range, not what’s causing it. Your technician at Custom Automotive Care needs to determine the underlying problem that’s causing the symptom. The symptom may be just the light coming on or you may experience engine running issues like stalling or hesitation.
As you can imagine, some automotive diagnoses are quick and easy. Others are more involved and difficult. Of course, we at Custom Automotive Care want to figure out what’s wrong with your vehicle and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.
One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.
Vehicles are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So it’s challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem.
If it’s not something obvious, it’s easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.
Let us introduce you to something we’ll call ‘Customer Detective Work’ – that is helping the technician find clues to what’s wrong.
We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me, you come in to Custom Automotive Care and your car is making a funny sound…
- Where’s the sound? – ‘Around the right front wheel’.
- What kind of sound? – ‘Kind of a clunk, clunk sound’.
- When do you hear the sound? – ‘When I turn and accelerate.
- Right and left? Forwards and back?’
You see where we’re going. You’re gathering additional information to help your technician know where to start. Based on your car and the tech’s experience, we’ll know where to look on you vehicle and can start with the obvious suspects.
You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says “making a funny noise”.
When you think you need to bring your vehicle in, make some notes about the problem it’s having. Rather than just saying “it’s leaking”, tell the service advisor the color of the fluid, and approximately where under the car you see the puddle.
Things like ‘the car is stalling or sputtering’ are often very hard to diagnose because they’re intermittent. They may not happen every time you drive and may not be happening when you actually bring the car in. So, it is a big help for you to describe what’s happening in as much detail as possible.
Your technician at Custom Automotive Care will need to be able to duplicate the problem if possible so he needs to know details, like “It stalls after it’s been driven for about 20 minutes and I go over 50 miles an hour”.
If your technician can experience the problem personally, he’s better able to make a diagnosis and repair. And, then test to see if the repair solved the problem.
Custom Automotive Care
4660 Cornhusker Highway
Lincoln, NE 68504