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Raise your hand if you've been here before: You are spending your lunch hour standing outside a service writer's window, waiting for...service?
There's a better way. Taking your vehicle in for service does not have to be frustrating, or even that time-consuming. All you have to do is plan ahead, communicate, and get to know your dealer's service department:
Read your warranty thoroughly and pay very close attention to its limits, including deductibles, length of coverage and any other limitations.
Review the scheduled maintenance section of your owner's manual and be sure to complete the recommended maintenace as outlined. If maintenance service is not performed, the warranty coverage can be denied. Maintain a detailed record of all service work performed on your vehicle. If you find minor problems with your new vehicle, keep a list and have them repaired when you visit your dealer for your next scheduled maintenance.
If a major problem occurs, take the vehicle to the service department immediately. You could experience a great deal of additional damage if a major problem is left uncorrected.
Pay close attention to the way your vehicle operates under different conditions, and make a note when anything abnormal occurs.
When taking your vehicle in for service, DON'T expect to be provided with a loaner vehicle. The majority of today's dealers do not provide loaner cars because of the insurance liability expense. If you have an extended warranty you may be entitled to a rental car if your vehicle is kept overnight. Check your policy for specific coverage. Many dealerships do offer free local shuttle service or low cost rental cars. Check with the different dealers in your area for the one with the most convenient service center.
Try to promote a good relationship with your dealer's service writers; they can help you in many ways. Always make an appointment with the service department prior to taking your vehicle in. Don't be surprised if you can't schedule an appointment for a week or so. The majority of today's service departments are booked up well in advance. This is very important when you are nearing the end of your warranty coverage. When taking your vehicle in for warranty service, it is advantageous for you to take it to the dealer you purchased it from. You typically receive better treatment from the selling dealer, who usually takes care of his sales customers before any others. All dealers must honor a manufacturer's warranty, whether or not they originally sold the car.
Manufacturers periodically issue "service bulletins" to their dealers for certain technical problems. A service bulletin can be an authorization to dealers to fix a particular problem on a vehicle at no charge, even if the warranty has already expired. Manufacturers do this when a large number of vehicles experience the same problem. Typically these bulletins are not publicized. Before you pay for any repairs, check with the service department to see if the repairs are covered by one of these bulletins. Not all service bulletins authorize free repair.
Photo credit: Chevrolet
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