Auto Repair Dilemma – When to Blame the Mechanic vs. When to Blame the Car

by | Feb 28, 2017 | Auto Tips, Car Problems & Repairs

So you are all set. You booked an appointment in advance and arrived on time. Everything seems like it’s going to go smoothly, and then you get ‘the call’. It’s the service adviser saying, “We need your car for another day!”

You have appointments and other commitments.  This delay means you are going to have to rent a car. It will cost you money and time.

The service advisor explains that the problem was caused by:

  • a delay in receiving parts
  • the wrong parts
  • the mechanic was unable to remove a part
  • they came across a rusted part
  • there was a power outage
  • the computers were down

Basically, to you, it just sounds like a book of excuses!  Well, maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t.

Getting ‘the call’ saying there will be a delay in the completion of an auto repair can be an extremely frustrating experience.  But, the one thing I’ve learned in my 30 plus years servicing automobiles is that most times, it’s unavoidable.  It’s the last kind of call a service adviser wants to make because he knows he will have a disappointed customer on the other end.

I think we can all agree that no matter what field you work in, things don’t always go smoothly — even when you dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s. If your auto service adviser or mechanic:

  • keeps you up to date
  • describes the issue in detail
  • gives you options
  • invites you to the shop to go over the issue in person, and/or
  • suggests a “show and tell” meeting

…as a service provider, that is just about all they can do.  Please don’t “hold their feet to the fire.” Also, let the service adviser know how badly the delay is affecting you so they can offer help. Sometimes customers can make the necessary adjustments in their schedule easily, but if you aren’t sure how you will get things done due to a service delay, ask your shop about loaner cars, car rentals or a courtesy shuttle.  Chances are, they can help out with some potential solutions.

It’s been our experience, that most of the time, a delay in repairing an older car is caused by a seized or rusty part. In that case, blame the car, not the technician or service writer. But, sometimes, it can be the shop’s fault if they don’t have high-quality, repeatable procedures in place, or if they perform repairs in a non-organized or sloppy manner. If the auto shop in question has hundreds of reviews from customers who are happy and satisfied with the service, chances are they have processes in place to perform the work efficiently and effectively.  In that case, you can blame the car or chalk it up to a bit of bad luck.

As always, establishing a rapport with the auto repair shop you choose is very important. Try a shop out by having a small job performed like a “while you wait service.” This way you can see how the repair facility works. Here are five things you can check out while you are there at the shop.

  1. Are the reception staff helpful and accommodating?
  2. Do the service writers spend time with you and take the time to understand your concerns?
  3. Are the staff happy and friendly?
  4. Are the workshop and reception area clean and tidy?
  5. If other people are waiting for their cars, chat with them and find out their experience with the company.

Want to learn more about how to choosing the right service facility for you? Check out this infographic on choosing the right auto repair shop for some tips on what to look for, even before you schedule your first appointment.


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About the Author

About Brian England

Brian England, the current president of BA Auto Care (formerly British American Auto Care), got his start with an auto apprenticeship in a small town in northwest of London. He came to the U.S. in 1972 to work for a Land Rover dealer in Rockville, MD. A few years later, he started British American Auto Care with his wife, Jennifer. Brian is a big believe in preventative maintenance, and his philosophy is to encourage and educate drivers on the benefits of a regular maintenance plan.