We had a customer come in the other day with their 1999 ML320 for a routine "Service A". While we were changing the oil, we saw the Tie Rod boots were torn and the Ball Joints also were very loose. The car had 130000 miles and we don't normally see the Tie Rods this loose. We told the owner about the problem, and they ask if they could wait until the next service. We told him they were a serious safety issue and they cannot wait. He OK'd the repair and we showed him the old parts when he picked his car up. He was shocked at their condition and very glad we insisted that they be replaced. Then he ask a question we don't normally hear. He wanted to know why we checked these parts in the first place. He had only asked for a oil change. He told us other shops change the oil in the past, and said no one had ever mentioned anything like this before.
We see the discount coupons and service menu's from other shops. Normally they save this type of inspection for their bigger service. The thing is, an experienced mechanic can do this sort of inspection with just a glance. It's as simple as opening your eye's. A mechanic with decades of experience is able to "sense" when something is wrong. This type of service is second nature to us and it never even occurred to us that we should charge extra for this. Why would any experienced mechanic want to put someone else's family at risk? Life can have some strange twist and turns. You never know how mechanical failure might turn out. It could be one of our family members that ends up involved in a accident caused by a Ball Joint failure on a customers car.
But who decides when a part should be replaced? When is a part truly bad enough to replace? Some mechanics want to restore a customers car to the way it was when it was new. You wouldn't believe how many mechanics have said, "if they can't afford the repair they shouldn't be driving a Mercedes." This self serving attitude is one of the main reasons we'll see a new customer. Owners get sick of feeling like they have to replace half the car every time it goes in for service. A typical example is Brake Rotors. Some shops want to replace the brake rotors every time the car needs brake pads. Brake rotors only need to be replaced when they've worn below their minimum thickness or if they are warped. Unnecessarily replacing parts takes money away from fixing things that really need to be repaired. Customers will only spend so much on repairs and then they get rid of the car. We know that people would keep their Mercedes longer if they had confidence in the repairs. It's the reason owners question if the repair can wait. Trust is a funny thing. You can't see it coming.... but you sure can see it go.
This is a direct reprint of what the California DMV says a car dealer must do to "certify" a used car. Is this what you thought it meant when a car dealer said their cars were "certified"? Feel free to hold us to a higher standard.
"The dealer must perform a complete inspection of the vehicle and must provide consumers with a copy of the inspection report. Dealers are prohibited from advertising a vehicle as "certified" if:
- The title was branded as a Lemon Law Buyback, manufacturer repurchase, salvage, junk, non-repairable, flood, or similar designation. The vehicle has frame damage or was sold "as is."
- The seller failed to provide the buyer with a complete inspection report of all components inspected.
- Odometer does not indicate the actual mileage of the vehicle.
- The vehicle was purchased under state or federal warranty law (repurchased by the manufacture or dealer).
- The vehicle was damaged by accident, fire, or flood unless repaired to safe operational condition prior to sale."
We just love the last item. It doesn't say they can't sell you a wrecked, flooded, or fire damaged car. They just can't sell it "unless" they fix it. Would you like to guess who sets the standard for "Repaired to Safe Operational Condition"? It doesn't say the seller even has to tell you it was damaged? Who wants a "Certified" wrecked car? The State says a dealer can still call it "Certified" even if it's been on fire. Most people are fooled into thinking if it's "Certified", that it means something special. Would you like to guess who wrote this law?
Don't you worry though, the California DMV will help you if you get burned!
"Certified Used Cars"
Excellence in any endeavor can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime;
it is not to be purchased at a lesser price.
Only a dead fish goes with the flow.