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Talking Auto Tech to Repair Shops

Speak the language to improve your auto repairs.

by on Oct.06, 2009


Describe symptoms not solutions.

A trip to the auto repair shop can feel like visiting a foreign country for some motorists–they do not understand the language and are worried about being taken advantage of by the locals. However, AAA says a trip to the repair shop can be much easier–and less stressful–by selecting a quality facility and learning to speak “auto tech.”

When communicating with an automotive technician, AAA recommends motorists do the following:

  • Before taking the vehicle to a repair facility, write down notes on the vehicle’s symptoms and performance so important information is not overlooked or forgotten. Include any observations, even if they seem silly or irrelevant.
  • Describe the symptoms to the technician rather than solutions. Explain what has been seen, smelled, heard and felt while driving the vehicle. For example, does it vibrate or pull to the left? Explain under what type of driving conditions the problems takes place and how long ago it started.
  • Try to be precise. Such as explaining a rattle under the hood starts at 40 mph or an issue occurs only on cold days after the engine has been running for 10 minutes.
  • When describing symptoms, refer to the driver side and passenger side instead of the right or left side of the vehicle.
  • Resist the temptation to use technical jargon unless sure what it means. Explain what is being experienced in terms that do not direct the technician to a single solution. This will help eliminate unnecessary or ineffective work being performed due to misinterpretation or misdiagnosis.
  • If the vehicle has been serviced recently, bring copies of the previous repair orders rather than trying to explain what work was done.