Should You Ask to See Old Auto Parts After a Repair or Service?
It is strange how when something is done in our auto repair shop for many years it becomes part of a routine. Then a new generation comes along and they wonder why we do it! This is the case with us keeping the old parts we remove from cars as part of a repair or routine maintenance. A decade or so ago it was routine for a customer to ask to see the various automotive parts that we had removed from their car. It was the accepted thing to do. At one time we had special bags for them, and we would put them in the customer’s car. Now, it is very rare that we are asked to keep the parts. Sometimes when we come across a very unusual problem and it is of interest we might show the customer the parts.
I must admit I like to show customers the dirty cabin filters we remove from the car's ventilation system, it is amazing to see what is collected by this filter, everything from bits of trees to mice!
Most of the work we perform on cars can’t be seen by the customer so it can be rewarding to technicians when they are asked by the customer to see an old part. It is nice when a customer shows a interest in what we do, we jump at the chance at doing a little “show and tell”! Showing a customer a cracked belt or a blocked air filter reinforces the value of performing preventive maintenance. Our technicians keep the parts they remove for a few days before recycling them. Keeping the old parts also allows management to track the auto parts used and to maintain a quality control system. Insurance companies also like to see the old automotive parts we use and often take photos for their records. I know of some automotive repair shops that keep the parts in case there is a dispute, and someone accuses them of not replacing a part.
Should you ask your repair shop to keep your old auto parts? Well it might be a good idea if you are trying out a new shop; it could be part of the way you develop trust in the shop. It is not a good idea if you do not know what you are looking at. Now cars are very complicated, and showing someone an electronic sensor means nothing to them. I suspect this is why customers do not ask us to keep the parts. We will continue the practice behind the scenes just in case someone asks.