"What Is A Service Advisor?"
Service advisors, what are they? They can be your very best friends
when it comes to avoiding costly repairs or inconvenient breakdowns
on the road. A service advisor simply keeps you informed about your
vehicle, letting you know what repairs are needed and when they’re
needed. Working with them as your liaison between you and your
vehicle can add many more serviceable and cost effective miles of
enjoyable driving. What’s their sole purpose? To help you.
No one knows your car better than you, so don't ignore small warning
signs. Communicate with your service advisor. Let them know about
weird smells, sounds, drips, leaks, warning lights, unusual gauge
readings and smoke. Don’t be embarrassed if they sound silly. Tell
him about your car's acceleration, gas mileage, change in fluid
levels, change in steering, handling and braking. Tell him when
problems first became apparent and under what driving conditions.
Consider writing down a list of symptoms or keeping a log of
possible problems. Don’t rush the service advisor for an on-the-spot
diagnosis. Your service advisor will inform you of the problem when
the technician has had time to properly diagnose it.
All of this information will be appreciated by the technician and
will save you a lot of money over the life of your vehicle.
"When Do I Have my Car’s Oil Changed?"
Changing your oil regularly is the single most important service you
can do for your car, and it's one of the easiest. Oil is produced to
conform to the needs of your car; it's the life of the engine. Dirty
oil creates leaks, scored bearings and over consumption. You can
never change it too much but we recommend every 3,000 miles.
Oil is the lifeblood of the engine. It not only lubricates the
engine, it also cools, cleans and protects it. But mineral oil by
itself can't do all of these jobs without some help. Nearly half a
pint of various additives are added to the typical quart of mineral
oil to improve the oil's ability to resist heat, friction, oxidation
Short trip driving is especially hard on oil because the engine
never warms up enough to boil off the moisture that accumulates
inside the crankcase. The moisture comes from combustion gases that
blow by the piston rings (the older the engine, the greater the
amount of blow by). Most of these gases are removed by the Positive
Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system. But in a cold engine much of the
moisture condenses and ends up in the oil. Water reacts with oil to
form sludge and acids, and the result is accelerated engine wear.
The only way to get rid of the accumulated moisture, acids and
sludge is to change both oil and filter periodically (every 3 months
or 3,000 miles is a typical service industry recommendation, though
some vehicle manufacturers allow up to 7,500 miles between changes
under ideal driving conditions).
"Why Should I Do Anything? My Car’s Running Fine."
A regularly serviced vehicle will last 200,000, 300,000 and possibly
400,000 miles. A misfire can cause up to 50% less fuel mileage and a
major increase in harmful emissions.
Improper tire inflation wears tires faster and wastes fuel because
the engine has to labor harder to move the vehicle. Improper tire
alignment can wear out your tires more quickly.
The more timely vehicle servicing you do, the more money you save in
the long run.
The longer you wait until you service, the harder your car has to
work. Cars suffer carbon build up, dirty fuel injectors, and dirty
throttle bodies. City driving is especially hard on cars. Fuel
filters get plugged causing the pump to labor harder. This creates a
domino effect on everything from the spark plugs to the
transmission. Waiting doesn't make sense.
Each manufacturer has compiled a list of recommended service
intervals. For details, just look in your owner's manual. Each make
and model has different recommendations, but here are some general
Oil/filter change and safety inspections are recommended every 3,000
miles. Minor service is recommended every 15,000 miles. At a
minimum, this consists of an oil/filter change, a safety check and
fluid check. Major service is recommended every 30,000 miles. This
can include changing the oil/filter, spark plugs, gear oil or
transmission fluid, air and fuel filter, flushing some or all fluids
and adjusting valves (unless hydraulic).
"How Come It Cost So Much?"
If you think a high-tech car is one that talks to you, think again.
Most cars on the road today are high-tech, and it’s the computers on
board that have increased your costs for automotive repair. In
response, shops across the U.S. re-equipped their facilities to
change the way they diagnose and repair today’s cars, which led to
an overall increase in their cost of doing business.
To repair a vehicle, a technician cannot simply hook a car to a
machine and receive a printout describing the problem, instead, the
machine acts as a tool, giving outputs based on electrical signals.
These outputs must be analyzed against the vehicle’s problematic
"systems." Because the outputs are only cues, it can often take two,
three or more hours to diagnose the problem.
Before 1980, technicians spent 20 percent of their time engaged in
analyzing the cause or nature of the car problem, commonly call
"diagnostics," and the rest of their time doing repairs. Today,
repair jobs usually consist of 80 percent diagnostics and 20 percent
repairs. This 180-degree change redefined the job of "auto
mechanics," who today are titled "automotive technicians" because of
the skills required to do the complex job.
When a customer takes their car in for repair, he or she is
essentially asking the technician to "analyze my computers."
Vehicles today are made up of multiple microprocessors that
interlink all the systems under the hood and throughout the vehicle.
Most cars on the road today contain more computer power than the
Apollo spacecraft that landed on the moon.
To reduce the number of costly repair bills, we recommend that
consumers follow a regular tune-up schedule and get an annual engine
performance evaluation. Because today’s cars have "adaptive
strategies," the computer system on board compensates for failing
components by utilizing complicated computer "maps" to keep the
vehicle running. By the time a consumer detects a problem, usually
several problems exist and need attention. That’s why preventative
car maintenance and a solid relationship with a repair shop are
"Where Should I Go For Service?"
Types of Facilities
Generally speaking, there are three different types of facilities
where you will take your car to be serviced or repaired. Choosing
which facility is right for you can be a difficult decision. We want
to help you work through that decision to ensure that you get the
highest quality service and convenience at a fair and reasonable
Dealership Service Facilities
These facilities usually specialize on the one or two makes that
they sell. Dealership facilities usually have specific diagnostic
tools and machines. Dealership hours and locations can be
inconvenient, and they can be a bit expensive. If your car has a
warranty failure, this usually where you will take it.
Independent Service Facilities
Many of the owners of these shops have opened their own business
after many years at a dealership or other vehicle service facility.
Good independent shops generally have more diagnostic equipment than
dealerships and are better diagnosticians, because they have to know
about many kinds of vehicles. These are usually your best bet for
new vehicle maintenance repairs and even repairs done under some
extended service contracts that you may have purchased from your car
dealer. Independent shops often specialize on certain makes and
models or types of service.
This type of shop is usually managed by a large corporation and is
sometimes attached to retail outlets associated with the
corporation. Most of these shops do not specialize in a make or
model. Instead, they specialize in a vehicle repair function, e.g.,
mufflers, brakes and shocks.