Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Service Standards Category
Service Center Standard and Procedures
Date: April 4, 2013 12:53 PM - Category: Service Standards
All pilots have checklists for every aspect of flying. They always use their checklists even if they only have two steps on them. They do this simply because a checklist is a great way to not forget important steps. It is also how you can assure a predictable outcome.
That is why Apple Valley and Burnsville automotive service centers have procedural standards for each service they perform. Technicians are trained step by step. And they perform the procedures step by step, the same way each time. By training to procedural standards, centers can assure a quality outcome. The job is done right every time and you are happy with how your car performs.
Each company trains its technicians to standards. The industry as a whole is very committed to standards of excellence and encourages individual service center operators to apply them to every vehicle they service.
An example is how service technicians grade problems and communicate their recommendations. If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:
The part no longer performs its intended purpose
The part does not meet a design specification
The part is missing
The technician may suggest repair or replacement if:
The part is close to the end of its useful life - just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
To address a customer need or request - like for better ride or increased performance
To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer
Based on the technician's informed experience
Here are some examples:
An exhaust pipe has rusted through and is leaking. Replacement is required because the part has failed. If the pipe were rusted, corroded or weak, but not leaking, the technician may suggest it be replaced because it is near the end of its useful life and replacing it now may be more convenient for the customer.
Suppose a customer wants to improve his car's handling, but his shocks haven't failed. The technician may suggest replacement of the shocks to satisfy the customer's wishes.
Under these guidelines the service center must refuse partial service of a required repair if the repair creates or continues an unsafe condition. Let's say a customer has a cracked brake rotor. This is a dangerous condition that must be repaired. If the customer does not want to replace the rotor, but instead just wants new brake pads installed, the shop must ethically refuse the partial repair. That can be an upsetting conversation, but understanding that service centers operate under service standards and procedures is comforting. You want your service to be done right and to have confidence in your technician's recommendations.
The automotive service industry and Valley Auto Care want the best for you and for you to keep coming back. AutoNetTV is committed to providing automotive maintenance information to help you be confident in your service decisions.
On Board Diagnostics For Apple Valley Motorists
Date: September 25, 2012 10:45 AM - Category: Service Standards
Some Apple Valley motorists are confused by Valley Auto Care charges for diagnostic services for a vehicle repair. Many services at Valley Auto Care and other Apple Valley automotive repair shops include diagnostic fees.
When you take your laptop into a Apple Valley computer repair shop for a problem you’ll likely have to leave a deposit for diagnostics. When we visit our Burnsville doctor for a medical problem, we’re paying him to diagnose our ailment and of course for the tests that go along with it.
So receiving a diagnostic charge at Valley Auto Care for a tricky automotive problem shouldn’t be a surprise. In the Apple Valley area, automotive diagnostics can cover quite a range. If you hear a noise in your car brakes when you slow down in rush-hour traffic on a busy Minnesota expressway, you pull off the next off-ramp and take a quick visual check. That is usually enough to know what needs to be done. If you’re having an intermittent problem with your car engine, Valley Auto Care diagnosis may be much more involved.
Much of the Apple Valley public’s confusion comes when the problem involves the check engine light. The check engine light comes on when the engine management computer has sensed a problem.
There’s a common misconception among Burnsville, Burnsville, and Rosemount drivers that the trouble code tells the Valley Auto Care technician exactly what’s wrong. Why then is there a diagnostic charge, the scanner just gave the diagnosis?
Reality is more involved than that. The computer monitors many sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of these sensors has a reading that’s out of parameters, the computer will record a trouble code and turn on the check engine light.
The car computer's trouble code just tells the Valley Auto Care technician what engine parameter is out of range – not what’s causing it. The technician needs to determine the underlying problem that’s causing the symptom.
There are many problems that could cause a troublesome sensor reading for Valley Auto Care Apple Valley customers. The Valley Auto Care technician makes a list of the most likely causes and begins tracking down the source of the problem.
Apple Valley service centers subscribe to databases that document possible causes for a given trouble code. They outline procedures for confirming a diagnosis and provide the documented fix. These databases are specific to each vehicle and engine combination.
Some diagnoses are quick and easy. Others are more involved and difficult. Of course Valley Auto Care wants to figure out what’s wrong with your car and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.
Apple Valley Customer Detective Work
Date: December 28, 2011 2:14 PM - Category: Service Standards
One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley Minnesota is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.
Cars are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So it's challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem. If it's not something obvious, it's easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.
Let us introduce you to something we'll call Customer Detective Work – that is helping your Apple Valley Minnesota technician find clues to what's wrong.
We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me. You come in to Valley Auto Care and your car is making a funny sound.
Q: Where's the sound?
A: Around the right front wheel.
Q: What kind of sound?
A: Kind of a clunk, clunk sound.
Q: When do you hear the sound?
A: When I turn and accelerate.
Q: Right and left? Forwards and back?…
Do you see where we're going? You're gathering additional information to help your Apple Valley Minnesota technician know where to start. Based on your car and the tech's experience, he'll know where to look and can start with the obvious suspects.
You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says "making a funny noise".
When you think you need to bring a vehicle in, make some notes about the problem. Rather than just saying "it's leaking", tell the tech the color of the fluid, and approximately where under the car you see the puddle.
Things like 'the car is stalling or sputtering' are often very hard to diagnose because they're intermittent. They may not happen every time you drive and usually aren't happening when you actually bring the car in. So, it is a big help for you to describe what's happening in as much detail as possible.
Your Apple Valley Minnesota technician at Valley Auto Care will need to be able to duplicate the problem if possible so he needs to know details, like 'it stalls after it's been driven for about 20 minutes and I go over 50 miles an hour'.
If the tech can experience the problem personally, he's better able to make a diagnosis and repair. And, then test to see if the repair solved the problem.
Your Well Trained Technician At Valley Auto Care
Date: October 6, 2011 9:43 AM - Category: Service Standards
When your car breaks down, or just needs some routine service, you might get a little nervous. Your car’s so important to your life in Burnsville, you need to back on the road as soon as possible – with the problem fixed right the first time.
If you’ve ever checked into some of the technician training Valley Auto Care professionals receive, you may be surprised at how much knowledge and skill goes into diagnosing and repairing a modern car. Let me give you some perspective. Today there are four cylinder engines that make more power than the V-8’s in luxury cars twenty years ago. I mean a new V-6 Toyota Camry could beat Sonny Crocket’s Ferrari in a race to sixty.
Our engines are more and more powerful and at the same time their fuel economy keeps inching up – even with steep Burnsville gas prices. And they’re so reliable. This is all due to engineering. But the advances come at the price of simplicity. The modern cars driving around Burnsville roads are so much more complex from a mechanical standpoint that it makes your head spin – not to mention the electronics.
Some cars have several networked computers controlling most of the engine functions and many other vehicle functions as well. Burnsville motorists take all of this sophistication for granted – but somebody has to fix it when it breaks. It’s a real challenge for Valley Auto Care technicians to keep up, but we work hard to stay ahead of the technology. It requires a high level of commitment on the part of the technician and the Burnsville service center as well.
In addition to the training, there’s the financial commitment to purchase the diagnostic and repair tools. Valley Auto Care technicians receive training through a combination of formal classroom training, training provided at Valley Auto Care by parts and equipment manufacturers, on-line courses and home study courses.
There are many independent certifications available at Valley Auto Care all the way up to Master Technician. The ability to repair your car requires a strong combination of training and resources. No one can know everything, so Burnsville auto service centers subscribe to data services, technical libraries and even on-line communities that can help them when they run into a difficult problem.
It’s like those medical diagnosis shows on TV. Here are the symptoms – what’s the diagnosis and treatment? Diagnosis is every bit as much an art as a science. At Valley Auto Care, we want everything to be simple, straightforward and cheap – but sometimes it just isn’t.
So try to be more relaxed next time you bring us your car. You’re in good hands.
Ethics of Automotive Repair in Apple Valley
Date: September 13, 2011 9:56 AM - Category: Service Standards
We're going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. It seems like news outlets really like hit-and-run reporting; they hit everyone from groceries stores to retail to physicians. And the Apple Valley automotive service and repair industry hasn't been given a pass either.
Unfortunately, every profession in Apple Valley has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. On the automotive side, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.
Yet some people remain uncomfortable with Apple Valley automotive service and repair. It may start with the fact that our vehicles are a big investment and we rely on them for so much in our lives. That alone guarantees our attention. And how well we understand the recommendations really impacts our comfort level.
If we understand what's recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we'll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It's like going to the doctor; If she's using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following her train of thought. It can be like that with your Apple Valley service advisor too. He's so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don't know a PCV from an EGT.
If you don't understand what your doctor's talking about: ask some questions. If you don't understand what your Apple Valley automotive advisor's talking about: ask some questions.
Let's go back to those ethical standards; when we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, "Is this really necessary?" Well, here's 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 intended purpose
The part does not meet a design specification
The part is missing
For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician at Valley Auto Care says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.
If you tried to get him to simply put new pads on, he would say that if you didn't want to replace the rotor; Valley Auto Care would ethically have to refuse the repair.
To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could've failed at anytime and needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.
Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:
The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer
Based on the technician's informed experience
Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.
Questions To Ask Your Apple Valley Service Advisor
Date: June 15, 2011 11:25 AM - Category: Service Standards
We find that a lot of Apple Valley service and repair at Valley Auto Care are a little tentative when they talk with their automotive advisors. They want to ask questions, but don't want to be embarrassed or to seem pushy. Cars are very complicated and there's more to know about them than most of us have the time to learn. Maybe it's because cars have become so much more reliable that the average person just doesn't need to know as much to keep their vehicle on the road.
You know, your local hospital has a Patient's Bill of Rights that they post throughout the hospital. We think our Apple Valley automotive service customers also have a right to ask any question they need to understand what is wrong with their car and what it will take to fix it. They need to feel free to ask the cost and benefits of recommended services. And they certainly have a right to understand the financial end of the transaction.
It's all about the communication. It's a little harder when you're trying to find the right service center in Apple Valley. But once you've developed a relationship, the communication should come easier.
What are some of the barriers to communication? Well, let's go back to the medical example. When your doctor's explaining something to you, it's something that she understands very well and is very familiar with. So she may use jargon you don't understand or that you don't have the education and training that's foundational to understanding what she's trying to explain.
So you fall behind and get frustrated.
It can be the same with your Apple Valley automotive service advisors. Most of them are very busy trying to service and fix cars to get their customers back on the road. So, just ask when you feel you need more information.
Financial related issues seem to be most frustrating to customers. If you're not sure, ask what the payment policies are. For example, there's a big difference between giving your car a quick once over and doing a thorough inspection. Diagnosing a problem may take quite a while. Make sure you know what's done as a courtesy and what has a fee. Remember, you still have to pay for the office visit even if the doctor says you only have a cold.
Communication is a two way street. If you have some real budget concerns, ask your Apple Valley service advisor what he can do. He can give you priorities and options. He can tell you what needs to be taken care of right away for safety or financial reasons. Then you can work out a plan for when to get the rest done. He can also help you with options on the parts. The preference is to always use a high-quality part with a reputation for reliability. But if money is real tight, he might be able to find a rebuilt part or a used part. He should tell you the difference in the guarantee for the part so you can make a good decision.
Ask about warranties for parts and labor. Be sure to get all the paperwork you need to make a possible claim in the future. Your service center and its technicians stand behind their work and want you to understand precisely what that means.
Be sure to ask for and keep a detailed explanation of all the work that's done on your vehicle. These records will help you keep track of service, warranties and document the good care your vehicle has received when the time comes to sell it.
Call Valley Auto Care to make an appointment. 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Why People In Apple Valley Hesitate to Get their Vehicle Serviced
Date: January 26, 2011 1:54 PM - Category: Service Standards
A recent report stated that over 80 percent of the vehicles on our Apple Valley Minnesota roads have one or more service or repair that's needed, but hasn't been taken care of. Now that's a lot of undone service. That translates into something over 160 million vehicles in the U.S. alone. Some of the neglected items are minor. Others are serious safety concerns.
There are several reasons why we hesitate to take care of recommended services; especially services that our Apple Valley Minnesota automotive advisor recommends when we're in for something else, like an oil change.
The first issue boils down to comfort with car care. We don't always feel we know enough to make good decisions. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that vehicles are so reliable these days. They almost become an appliance. Of course you love your car, but if you don't have to worry about it breaking down all the time, you're not forced to think as much about preventive maintenance.
Perhaps your dad knew a lot about cars and always made sure they were taken care of. He was very comfortable dealing with his local Apple Valley Minnesota service advisor. People who don't know as much about cars hesitate to ask questions because they don't want to look ignorant.
It's human nature. But, there's so much to know in this world, we can't all be experts in everything. So we specialize. It's very important to ask questions of any specialist, whether it's your doctor, financial advisor or your automotive technician in Apple Valley, Minnesota.
Your auto technician at Valley Auto Care wants your questions. We want you to understand the recommendation and why it needs to be done.
That brings us to the next issue; people say that they don't always know if they really need the service or if they are just being sold something.
At the heart, it speaks to trust. Do you trust your Apple Valley service center and your service advisor? Trust has to be earned and that takes time and experience. But you can shortcut the process when you realize that most of the recommendations are based on manufacturer's maintenance schedules.
In other words, "you don't have to trust me, you can trust your owner's manual".
Your Apple Valley service center has computer databases that contain the manufacturer's recommendations for almost all vehicles, so they don't need to rummage through your glove box to look for your owner's manual to know what to do.
Basically, the engineers who designed the car say "here's when you need to have it serviced". That's who makes the recommendation, not the technician. He's just reminding you.
Now you do need to trust your Apple Valley technician's experience and judgment from time to time. When he inspects your vehicle, he may find problems or concerns. He will explain things so that you can prioritize the concern and make a good decision about whether or not to have something done.
That brings us to the third issue; money. Often the concern is about spending the money to take care of a recommended service. Our money has many places it needs to go. And we have another list of places we want it to go. Auto maintenance isn't usually on either of those lists.
Look, everyone who works at Valley Auto Care has a family budget, too. They can relate. Maybe a little look behind the scenes would be helpful.
Service centers like Valley Auto Care invest heavily in training, diagnostic equipment and tools so that they can make repairs and perform services as efficiently as possible. And like any other business, they have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, shop and office supplies, taxes and so on.
We work hard to make sure that we diagnose the problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That's the only way we can maintain our reputation and remain in business. If we're not satisfying our customers and providing a good value, you won't come back and the service center won't be around for long.
When there is a real budget concern, your Apple Valley service center can help you prioritize the work that needs to be done and come up with a plan for taking care of it that works within your budget.
Let's say you have a serious problem with your brakes. That's a safety concern so a technician can't ethically say, well, let's put that off for a couple of months. What they can do is take care of the brakes now and address the cabin air filter or transmission service next month.
Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley MN helps people and their vehicles throughout Apple Valley and along Cedar Ave, County Rd. 42, Galaxy Ave, and 160th St. We work on all vehicles including the following manufacturers: Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Ford, Mazda, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, GMC, Cadillac, Mercury, Lincoln, Infiniti, Acura, Lexus, Buick, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, and Plymouth with most auto service needs including: Tires, Wheels, Brakes, Transmission, Tune-Up, Computer Diagnostics, Engine Codes, Suspension, Shocks, Struts, Alignment, AC, Clutch & more.