For this blog, we are going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. Unfortunately, every profession has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. In the world of automotive repair, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards. For example, every NAPA AutoCare technician is trustworthy and ASE certified!
Yet some people are still uncomfortable with automotive service and repair. So along with trusted, certified technicians, we also want to give you the ability to understand the benefits of taking care of suggested maintenance, and the downsides to putting it off. This will help you have more faith in the service recommendations. So communication is key. It’s like going to the doctor. If your doctor is using all medical jargon and doesn’t stop to explain in basic language, you will have a hard time following. It can be like that with your service advisor sometimes too. They are so familiar with all things automotive, they may forget that you don’t know a PVC from an EGT.
Just like with a doctor, if you don’t understand what your service advisor is talking about—ask some questions!
Let’s go back to those ethical standards. When we hear repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, “Is this REALLY necessary?” Well, here is the industry standard:
If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:
- The part no longer performs its purpose
- The part does not meet a design specification
- The part is missing from your vehicle
For example, if you notice a grinding noise while stepping on the break you may take it to the shop thinking you just need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it. If you pushed to just put new pads on, the service advisor would tell you that doing so is unethical and would have to refuse the repair. If the service advisor had agreed, your breaks could have failed at any time.
Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician might suggest repair or replacement if:
- The part is close to the end of its life- just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
- To address a customer need or request- like better ride or increased performance
- To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicles manufacturer
- Based on the technician’s informed experience
Of course, it is up to the technician to make the ethical decision and relay it to the customer. If you don’t feel comfortable with something—ask more questions!