Lumping service work together

Can we put out some opinions to help our readers get better servive? I think we all have that as our goal for spending time here.

The issue I would like to explore is the pros and cons of leaving your car for everything to get done or bringing it in several times to do the work incrementialy.

Also what about lumping solving a problem with normal service work?

In my personal experience I have seen the work quality degrade when a mechanic gets a long list of purely service work, they don’t seem to put as much attention to quality as when just one or two items are presented. There is much pressure to establish bragging rights about how badly you beat the time.

I don’t advise lumping a driveability issue with service work (unless service work solves the driveability issue).

Then you have the desire of customers to only visit your place as few as times as possible.

So for our readers, can we give some pointers on how to handle scheduling work?

I do most of my own work, so I can’t really say, but I have never noticed that kind of effect. I certainly would not want to keep bringing it in for one thing at a time when there are several things to do. In addition it is often less total labor to do everything as the same time than to do each one separately.

There is a cost advantage if work is related and you can negotiate. For example, everyone knows (I hope) that replacing a water pump is the time to also replace the timing belt. The catch is that you need to mention to the service adviser up front that there should be no additional labor charged for the second repair. If you don’t nail him on this, you may be charged the flat rate fee for each as though the two repairs were separate orders.

This negotiation should apply to all orders of related work. It requires, however, that the customer be knowledgeable.

Some of that is going to depend on the shop also. When I worked for the GM dealer back in the mid-late 80’s, all the techs in the shop specialized. We had 2 drivability guys, 2 heavy engine guys, 1 trans guy (me), 2 trim guys, 3 guys who did suspension, brakes and alignments, 1 electrical, 1 diesel and 1 PDI (Pre delivery inspection)guy who also doubled in doing emission inspections. If an R.O had alignment, tune up, and trans service on it, that vehicle would see three different techs. Nobody ventured off into someone elses work. I have looked at R.O’s from dealerships in the recent years and see that most of the time 1 tech is handling the entire R.O. I’m kind of curious to know whether this is beneficial to the shop or not.


I’ve been pretty much an Import guy (other than doing some domestic work in my own shop) and the Import dealers I’ve worked for always relegated every repair to one guy.
At one large multi-line dealer (Pontiac/GMC/Subaru/Mazda) we Import guys went our own way but the Pontiac/GMC guys were divided up like Transman mentioned.(heavy line, transmission, 2 guys on driveability, one on suspension/alignment, etc.)

In the Import situation doing all phases has never been a problem and whenver a guy runs across an issue that he is not too familiar with it was common practice to swap info or a helping hand.

I’m of the opinion that clear communication between the car owner, the tech, and the service writer is the most important ingredient and unfortunately that is not often the case.
While it’s seldom done, one huge aid is for the car owner to write a detailed description of the problem, including the minutae, and leave a copy in the seat or on the dash.

Offhand, I would kind of agree that if a car owner has a long laundry list of stuff (especially if it relates to internal engine or transmission work) it would be best to knock out the basics and return for the heavy duty stuff.

I had not really thought of potential problems that could occur when the car gets moved through several different techs. There would be more oppourtunity to damage the car,harder to pin down who did what damage and at the very least more chances to loose the keys (happens all the time).

I was really thinking of a tech looking at a difficult driveability problem and becoming distracted when performing a basic service. Good techs are able to keep work progress organized and not forget to do some critical items but I have seen even the best do things like leave calipers loose when trying to make time on a large service or used car inspection.

From the very start of your training the “do it fast” mantra is pounded into you sometimes even more than do it right. If it is percieved you are not on the “do it fast” track things can go bad for you.

You are so right about clear communication. Normally at a dealership the customer communicates with the tech through a service writer. 95% of the time a service writer has little to no knowlege of the inner workings of an automobile and when confronted with a problem that a customer is explaning, they do not know the right questions to ask which will help the technician in diagnosing the problem. I ran into this many times where I personally had to call a customer to confirm symptoms.