Dr. take out my appendix

We often see the same kind of statement for cars. People want to tell the mechanic what to do to fix the car rather than to let the mechanic do their job and just tell them why you brought the car in.

When a car is still under the new car warranty, it is foolish and a waste of time to tell the dealer how to fix it.

Just tell them why you think it needs fixing.

It depends on the Mechanic.I suppose if you dont trust him or her,you probaly need to go to someone else.We are blessed with good dealership Mechanics and(in my opinion) decent rates in this two county area.
I have found a couple of good Mechanics locally and I try not to second guess them-Kevin

True Most Of The Time. However, I Have Had To Tell Dealers How To Fix My Car Under Warranty.

Often large dealerships (I have worked at them) see most “common” (to a specific make / model) warranty issues earlier and more frequently than do small dealerships.

I have been to smaller dealerships where they are totally puzzled by unusual symptoms that pop up on a vehicle under warranty. The larger dealerships that see a much larger volume of vehicles for service (sometimes a factor of many time more) may have already figured out the problem and the solution.

It takes a while for some of these warranty issues to turn into TSBs, csmpaigns, and recalls and sometimes certain dealers are aware even before the information is available.

Sometimes, and we see it on this site frequently, people take their car in with a warranty problem and describe the symptoms. The dealer gives it a cursory inspection and idicates “no problem found” and sends the customer away. I am thinking of the guy with the 07 Hyundai (I think) just yesterday that had this happen when he took his car in under warranty because it was jumping out of gear!

I have had cases like this where I could call a number of dealerships, many huge ones, and have found they they have already experienced several customers with the same problem, determined the cause, and fixed the cars with a proper dignosis. Later, situations such as this can trigger a TSB, campaign, or recall.

So, sometimes one has to do his / her homework and go in and give the dealer a shot at listening to the symptoms and when they say that there is no problem the car owner has to let them know there are other vehicles with the problem, the specific problem, and what has been done to solve the problem. Yes, they sometimes need a nudge or help. Then they will sometimes call corporate or the dealer you talked to and find out for themselves.

Do you want to drive a car with a potentially dangerous condition, keep taking it back, or drive doing more damage to your car as you drive?


P.S. Here’s an example of helping fix somebody else’s car. I still remember diagnosing a VW Bus warranty matter from the customer waiting area of a small VW dealer. They had replaced the fuel pump, checked everything they could think of and hadn’t fixed it. Since the large dealer I worked at several hundred miles away had already determined a flaw with these, I suggested that the fuel pump push rod was too soft and wore too quickly making it too short to activate the pump properly. I was correct and saved them tearing out more hair and wasting more time. This later turned into a TSB, campaign, or recall.

I Know A Guy At A GM / Chrysler Car Dealership Who I Consider My “Car Guru”.

He has forgotten more about cars than most technicians will ever know. He works at a large dealer in an undisclosed distant town.

I sometimes have had to call him and describe my car’s symptoms only without suggesting what is wrong with my car.

He then tells me what’s wrong and how to fix it. I can then go to my local dealer and tell them what it is they are missing when they cannot repair my vehicle under warranty.


When a car is still under the new car warranty, it is foolish and a waste of time to tell the dealer how to fix it.

How many times when you take your car in for service do you talk with a mechanic??? It’s NEVER happened to me. I talk to the service writer…and 9 times out of 10 is totally clueless about cars. If I have an idea what the problem is I’m going to express it. I’ve seen many times where the customer tells the service writer one thing, but the mechanic is told something else.

Very Often “Warranty Repairs” Often Aren’t As Lucrative As “Customer Pay” Work.

The way the system is set up in many dealerships is that as a technician you can get stuck with a marginally paying warranty repair (some are very time consuming) and lose out on high paying maintenance and repair jobs.

So, if I’m your technician and I have a family to feed, I may be “not able to duplicate the symptoms” you are describing or could send you on your way with “no problem found”. Then I can make some real money once I run your car outside.

I’d rather do three or four brakes around jobs in the time it takes to do a warranty dashboard R&R. I might have to in order to put food on the table.

However, if the customer knows too much about not only the symptoms, but the specific cause, and maybe even knows of a TSB that addresses it, I might be stuck actually locating and fixing the problem.


I have taken to writing up long notes to leave with the car - long notes describing symptoms and conditions as completely as I can along with any relevant maintenance/repair histories. I do this b/c you often don’t know whether or not you can speak to the mechanic. Even if I do I am never confident that they will really “hear” it all or that only one person will end up looking at the car.

Of course, I’ve also found out that people aren’t very careful about reading the notes either.

So then I get all sorts of whacky things back out of a shop. One of the most common, of course, is misdiagnosis and wasted money (mine!).

So frankly - when I do think it is the appendix my first choice is to do it myself. If it is something I can’t do myself, I’d rather show up and say replace the appendix since I would like to make my own boat payments one day rather than someone else’s.

Agreed. When the post indicates that a mechanic is being used I usually try to base my advice around that assumtion. Sometimes we don’t find out until too late.

The “why” can be a challange for some folks. People sometimes struggle to understand how to describe a problem. “My car feels funny” is sometimes the limit of their descriptive abilities.

I have written on this before. In many, perhaps most, cases, you are correct, but it depends.

Some time ago, I had an intermittent failure on gas tank seal, what did they call that? Evap system, or something like that, I have it written down but it is bedtime and I am not going to the car to look it up. It would fail at most once every few days, and sometimes would go for months with no failure.

Finally, a man had the exact same problem, on one of his 2 Siennas, and swapped parts until he found it, it was the canister assembly.

I took my car in and told them I wanted the canister replaced, I did not want it troubleshot at great expense with no chance of finding the problem, unless this is a common failure. Even then, a mechanic is probably going to spend some time to make sure, and time is money, and it is my money, not his. As you say, under warranty, it is the manufacturer’s nickel, and thus, you are correct, it doesn’t matter much how long he wastes digging for it.

I did work over 30 years on avionics systems, which included what avionics folks call - or called in those days - self test, and the principles are the same as what is reported in the error codes.

If I do indeed know what the problem is, I am not going to pay them to troubleshoot what I already troubleshot. The last time this was discussed, someone said if a person tells him what to replace, he will hand him the tools. I said if I know what is wrong, and the mechanic hands me his tools and tells me to do it myself, I will attempt to put those tools where the sun never shines.

In any case, if a mechanic does not want the job for which he will be paid, it will obviously be an ego problem, and I will find someone else with the supplies and tools to do the job, for money, and will not go back there again. I do have some ‘mechanical skills’, but do not have the parts changing experience of an experienced mechanic nor the complete tools, AND ALSO HATE WORKING ON CARS FOR THE MOST PART.

If I do not know for sure, then I am stuck paying them to dink around.

I do understand what you are saying, but I do not think it is an absolute rule.

I take my car to the dealer, which I have explained many times in the past, and nothing has changed. If I tell them what I want replaces, they just ask me to sign a waiver that if the work is properly done and the problem is not fixed, it is my nickel. I sign with no worry, because if I weren’t sure, I wouldn’t be telling them what to do in the first place.

This car has not had that much work on it, with only 164,000 miles on it.

Right you are, tell them the problem, let them fix it, if it does not get fixed, tell them the problem again, 9 times out of 10 the dealer will have more knoledge than the complainent and if you describe the problem properly it will get fixed properly. My guess is people as a general rule have a lack of ability to give a repair guy enough correct info to figure out what the problem is. I am an computer geek, but after one of my guys fixed a lady’s computer her car failed, and she called up my guy asking why he screwed up her car!

I Agree. As I Have Stated Earlier It Is Possible For The Customer To Understand More About A Problem And A Solution Than The “Experts”.


9 times out of 10 the dealer will have more knoledge than the complainent and if you describe the problem properly it will get fixed properly

That has not been my experience at all. I’d be more likely to say maybe 5 out of 10. The 5 misses cost customers a lot of time and money.

I have come to the conclusion that it is best to think of those in the car repair business very realistically. They really are not in business to fix your car. They are in business to make money (obviously). One might pull out the “markets fix everything” arguments - that the only way to stay in business to make the money is to fix the problems - but I’ll just say a couple of things about that - AAMCO, Meineke, Monro, Jiffy Lube, etc. Markets only work as consumer driven things when the consumers have good and complete information. This is certainly not the case with auto repair. Plenty of places stay in business without providing good products and services.

I was referring to the op When a car is still under the new car warranty, it is foolish and a waste of time to tell the dealer how to fix it.. Yes plenty of places stay in business as you say but out of warranty service is a whole different question.

This is correct to a certain degree.

I took my vehicle to a shop and told them to change the multi function (turn signal lever) switch. I will not go into details since it is lengthy but it was worn out. They quoted the part price and labor time but added an hour for diag time. I told the service writer there is no need for diag time since the switch is bad and no diag was needed. “But thats how the techs make their money” I was told. I told them to do the job in less than book time and the tech makes money. If a new switch does not fix the problem then it’s my problem.

This is a case of telling them what to fix simply so I was not overcharged for them not doing something.