"Just an oil change and lube please."
It is a short sentence, but it shows how much people do not understand about what is involved in performing a quality oil change!
We've done a number of blogs on oil changes, and that's because our industry has reduced the price of an oil change so much that it means little to the public. People think that if an oil change can cost between $15 to $30 it must be easy to perform and therefore be worth little.
“Hey, high school kids do it.”
Here are a few more quotes ………….
“You know, it is so easy I could do it myself, but I just don't have the time?"
“I used to do my oil changes but I would just as well leave it to you guys.”
“Oil and filter change -- don’t worry about that; I get that done at a quick lube place.”
“I don’t take it to the dealer; they just want to rip me off. Have you seen what they charge for just an oil change?”
When we don’t value something we don’t think much about it. We have all seen the advertisements, 3000 mile oil change in just 10 minutes. (That is after waiting 30 minutes in your car.)
“If it takes just 10 minutes how can it be worth much?”
But your car is worth up to $50,000 or more, why would you leave this investment in the hands of a quick lube company?
I have trained many high school graduates and students who have been through an automotive program, and it has still taken me months, yes months, to teach someone to perform an oil change service. As an automotive shop owner I know that if I do not train our apprentices correctly they will not be able to perform a quality service for our customers.
When I review our service manual that is used as a guide to train our apprentices it is always the oil change section that needs the most updates. The description that guides the apprentice is very long. There is a lot to performing a quality service. We make sure our apprentices know how important it is to do the job right. By the time we have finished training them, they know how much an engine costs. They know the service they are performing is NOT JUST AN OIL CHANGE.
Recently, a British American Auto Care customer was driving out of Washington, D.C. when there was a loud bang indicating that he had hit something in the road. This was followed by the oil warning light coming on and a message saying low oil pressure.
Our customer did the right thing and stopped driving even though he was not in the best part of town. He called Better World Auto Club, and they said they would arrive in an hour. A local resident came up to him and said that this was not a good place to hang around so he went to a local Wendys and called his wife. He did not have time to settle down when along came the tow truck, only 15 minutes from when he had called. In no time at all he was on his way back to Columbia. We repaired the car, and because he stopped as soon as he saw the warning light come on, no damage was done to the engine.
Moral to the story: STOP when you see a oil warning light come on, and join the BETTER WORLD AUTO CLUB for great service.
For more information on when to stop and call for a tow truck and when it's okay to keep driving, check out this blog post.
We were brainstorming a bit about things people told us they liked about British American Auto Care. Are you new to the area or just looking for a new auto repair shop? Here are a few things you may want to consider. Use us as a benchmark!
- Location - Is the auto repair shop you are considering convenient to your work, your travel route, or your home? (British American Auto Care is conveninet to Rt. 32, Rt. 29, Rt. 175, Rt. 108, and I-95.)
- Free Courtesy Shuttle - British American offers a free courtesy shuttle for locations within an 8-mile radius.
- Comfortable Waiting Area - Is the waiting area clean, comfortable, and attractive?
- Children's Area - Does the waiting room include a section that is partitioned off with books and toys for children to play with?
- Free Coffee & Snacks - Maybe you were rushing out of the house, and forgot to grab a snack. British American offers free snacks for our customers. This probably isn't a deal breaker, but it's a great "nice-to-have" for our customers who choose to wait for their repairs.
- Free WiFi - Like the coffee and snacks, this also can come in handy if you decide upon a "while you wait" service and need to catch up on some work.
- Online Appointments & Auto Service Information - Can you make an appointment online, find auto service information at their website, or provide feedback directly to shop owners? British American offers an easy to navigate website that includes the option of scheduling your appointment online and communicating with us via our blog, Twitter, or Facebook.
- Awards - What awards has the auto repair facility that you are considering received? British American Auto Care has received several awards including:
Eco-Friendly Practices - Does the shop implement eco-friendly practices like conserving energy and recycling? If sustainability is important to you, you'll want to choose an auto repair shop that values these things also. British American Auto Care won the Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award in 2010 for it's eco-friendly practices.
Shop Tours - Will the shop allow you to tour their facilities? This allows you to see more of what's going on and can help you to become more comfortable with the shop's practices. The shop should be clean and tidy.
ASE Certified Technicians - This is another way of ensuring that you'll be receiving high quality repairs from trained technicians.
OEM Parts - Using high quality parts does matter in prolonging the service life of your vehicle.
Warranty Protection - What type of warranty does the auto shop offer? Here we offer a 2-Year, 24,000 Mile Warranty.
Hardcopy & Computer Records - We keep both hardcopy (up to 2 years) and computer records.
VEIP Certified - In order to receive this certification, auto repair facilities have to meet certain criteria for technicians, services, and equipment. It's another way of ensuring a basic level of qualification for the auto repair facility.
- Angie's List, Super Service Award 2010
- Over 25 years of 1st place awards in Howard Magazine's Best of... for the auto service category.
If there are other things you look for and consider in an auto repair shop, feel free to include them in the comments below. The above list is by no means exhaustive, but we decided to stop at 15!
You’ve reached that 60,000 mile milestone, and it’s time for a service check on your car. You’ve been experiencing some problems with the cruise control, and something about how the car is driving just doesn’t seem right. Cash is kind of tight, so you call ahead to find out how much the 60K check-up costs. You decide the price is reasonable and drop your car off with your local auto mechanic. You ask them to do three things 1) the 60K service, 2) check out the cruise control and 3) see if they can find out why the car feels sluggish. Then you take advantage of the free shuttle service for a lift to work and wait for the auto shop to call you back. Well, they do, but when they call back to get approval to proceed after performing the initial part of the 60K auto service, the price is higher than the original quote for the 60K service. WHY???
Well, let’s start at the beginning and review the transaction described above. If you’re really concerned about price, it’s a good idea to understand exactly what’s involved in a 60K service. There will be a standard set of services that should be consistent from auto shop to auto shop, but it never hurts to ask to see if your preferred auto mechanic’s standard service matches what’s recommended in your manual. Additionally, in the situation described above, the car owner actually asked for more than a 60K service; they also requested some diagnostic work to figure out what was causing the car to feel sluggish and what was causing a malfunction in the cruise control. In fact, from the beginning of the transaction, the car owner actually asked for a 60K service plus some additional diagnostic work.
Now, a good shop will begin a 60K service with a road test, and as a result they should end up recommending the additional work anyway, but it’s important to understand how your shop charges for diagnostics before you drop your car off.
Importantly, any preventive maintenance service on your car (whether it’s a 7,500 mile service, a 15K, a 30K, a 60K service, or a 100+K service) is designed to maintain your car in peak driving condition by helping to prevent potential safety issues as well as to fix any issues that are uncovered. So, if cash is tight and your auto technician finds out that you need a rear brake job, an alignment, and a tire pressure sensor replacement, in addition to repairing the problems with the cruise control, and completing the 60K service, you (similar to the customer described above) will have to decide which repairs to complete. A good auto repair shop will call you back with an estimate before performing any services, and will help you make a decision by advising you which repairs can wait and which repairs should be performed right away for safety reasons. Of course, you have the option of just completing the things you originally requested in the repair, but at least you’ll be making an informed decision.
So, if your routine maintenance turns out to be more than “just routine” or in other words, you find out that you need more than just a 60K service, you should be aware that it’s going to cost more than you originally planned if you want to keep your car well maintained and safe. Standard maintenance services don’t include major repairs, (though they do include some replacements). But importantly, you’ll know exactly why your cost was higher than anticipated, and you’ll have the opportunity to authorize or decline the additional services.
Image courtesy of @cdharrison