Why we’ll no longer repair vehicle issues that you’ve tried repairing first.

Anyone who follows our business knows that the client experience is very important to us. We’re constantly reviewing our processes and looking for ways that we can make your service experience better or more convenient. That’s why you might be surprised to learn we’re introducing a policy that – at first glance – doesn’t look as customer-forward as you’d expect from Airdrie’s premier auto service business. That policy is as follows: If you (or your friend, neighbor, or anyone who isn’t an automotive service professional) has tried to repair an issue with your vehicle and failed, we will no longer fix the resulting mess. Examples of this would include:

  • You performed some repairs to your engine, and now it doesn’t run properly.
  • Your neighbor replaced your brakes, and now they are making bad noises.
  • Your friend serviced your transmission, and afterwards the transmission started to shift poorly.

Basically, we’re putting an end to “Distaster DIY” in our shop. Let us explain:

You’re likely familiar with the popular HGTV program Disaster DIY, where host (and very likeable guy) Brian Bauemler visits homeowners who have failed at their own home renovations. Brian helps to complete the renovations, usually starting by undoing everything the homeowner has done up to that point before assisting in performing the work properly from the beginning. Of course the whole process is strictly for entertainment; Brian doesn’t actually make his living by completing the renovations.

And therein lies the difference between us and our pal Brian: Servicing vehicles is our job, and we do put food on our tables doing it. While we take great satisfaction in helping people every day, we also have a business to run. In any business it makes sense to avoid activities that 1) aren’t profitable, 2) cause undue stress for your staff, or 3) result in frustration on the part of your clients. As we’ve experienced time and time again, these “Disaster DIY rescues” often result in all three of these outcomes.

You’ve likely seen funny signs like this online before. While it’s true that no tradesperson enjoys putting together something that someone else took apart, we do have better reasons than that for our new policy.

Cleaning up the mess, and the estimating problem:

During what we’re calling the “Disaster DIY rescue”, the do-it-yourselfer in question has often left our technicians with a real mess to clean up. This mess often includes broken, stripped or missing bolts; parts installed incorrectly; damaged electrical connectors; and broken plastic items. In many cases, the further we dig into these repairs, the more issues we find. This means that providing a price estimate for the repairs up front can be tough! This matters to us, because we take a lot of pride in providing an accurate estimate. There’s no “five o’clock sticker shock” in the form of surprise bills at our shop.

After we “repair your repair”, who provides the guarantee?

We back all of our work with the best parts & labour warranty in Airdrie: 3 years or 100,000 km. You’re even covered for two years right across North America through NAPA Autopro! But how does this warranty work when you’ve repaired something yourself, and then we repair your repair? Unless we completely re-do every single part of the job, we can’t really guarantee any part of it. This means checking the torque on every bolt you’ve touched. It means removing and inspecting every part that you’ve installed. Unless you’re willing to pay for all this, we can’t guarantee our “re-repair”. We aren’t fond of this, because just like we take pride in providing an accurate estimate, we’re proud to offer an outstanding workmanship warranty. This also creates conflict from time to time, because some DIYers who aren’t willing to pay for a complete re-do of their work still expect a warranty from us.

Having us re-do your repair usually costs more than having us perform the work in the first place.

Last month we disassembled a Hemi engine on a newer Ram 1500 truck for a client, who had attempted to replace their own camshaft. They were successful in reassembling the engine, but it didn’t start afterward. These camshafts fail fairly often, so this is a repair that we’re very familiar with. The whole job normally costs less than $5000 and takes a couple days to complete. Unfortunately in this instance the client had installed their timing chain incorrectly and bent most of their intake valves. Between replacing the valves and dealing with other carnage in the form of stripped bolts and whatnot, the whole repair cost over $8000. The re-repair involved replacing some fluids and gaskets that the client had already replaced once (most gaskets cannot be installed twice) and so the client’s total expenditure was over $9000 for the repair! (Almost double what we would have charged in the first place.)

Be it plumbing, landscaping or automotive repair, the purpose of “doing it yourself” is usually to save money. Unfortunately with today’s increasingly complex vehicles, going the DIY route often doesn’t save any money at all. We don’t like seeing folks pay twice for their car repairs, and this is another reason why we don’t like getting involved in the Disaster DIY rescues.

“You do the crime, you do the time.”

We’ve all heard this saying, and it means that we must face the consequences of our actions. We feel that this relates to the context of this post as well: If someone chooses to tackle vehicle repairs that they aren’t qualified to carry out, they should “do the time” and deal with the repercussions when things go wrong. After all, avoiding these issues is part of what you pay a professional for in the first place. Part of the reason we feel this way is that our technicians are very passionate about their craft, and take pride in servicing vehicles at the highest level possible. For folks who care this much, it’s frustrating and disheartening to deal with poor quality or “butchered” repairs and vehicles that – unless we completely re-do the whole DIY job – will never be the same again.

Diagnosing the “human created” vehicle issues can be very time consuming – and expensive.

Trouble-shooting car problems is something that we do every day. We put a lot of focus on diagnostics, and take pride in providing fast, accurate answers to our clients’ concerns. We often inform clients that statistically speaking, 80% of vehicle problems can be diagnosed within one hour, and 96% of them within two. Well, sort of. That goes for normal vehicle problems, anyway.

As technicians, we’re well versed in how vehicles fail. Let’s take electrical testing as an example. Examining a wiring harness, we can spot the areas where a wire is most likely to chafe or break. Even if the circuit is 30 feet long, we can usually zero in on trouble spots and find a broken wire fairly quickly. But what happens if that wire broke in a place where it normally never would have – let’s say it corroded away because someone pierced the insulation with a tester? Finding this wiring problem could take much longer. Over the years, the problems that we’ve spent the most time diagnosing were always those created as a result of a botched repair job. Diagnosing normal vehicle issues is enjoyable for us; it’s part of our job. Diagnosing what has gone wrong after a DIY repair can be time consuming for us, and expensive for you.

Wires corroded through after being “poked” with a test light.

The good news!

The good news is that this change in policy doesn’t affect 99% of our clients. We’re very blessed to have a wonderful group of loyal clients who appreciate the value of the service that we offer, and wouldn’t dream of bringing us a car in pieces to try and re-assemble for them. These clients recognize the complexity of the rolling computer that they drive every day, and have made the wise choice to leave its maintenance to a professional. It is because of these great clients that we can continue to do a job that we love every day, and make a living doing it. Thanks to all of you for your continued support!

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