Speak Up: Talking with Your Sparks Tire & Auto Service AdvisorMay 2nd, 2018
About 80% of the vehicles on St. Charles roads today are behind on their preventive maintenance schedules. That translates to about 160 million vehicles in the United States that aren't performing as well as they could be - thousands right here in Missouri. Some of the maintenance issues are minor. Others represent serious safety concerns.
There are many reasons St. Charles drivers neglect their routine car care. Some of the more common ones are complacency, lack of confidence, lack of trust and budget issues.
Modern vehicles are amazingly reliable compared to their older counterparts. They can run for years without any repairs, and we sometimes translate that to mean they don't need any maintenance. The trouble is that without maintenance, parts in the vehicle are gradually wearing out, fluids are getting dirty, oil is developing sludge — a lot of stuff is happening that we can't see, and it is destroying the vehicle. The first time we learn there is a problem, we have a major repair bill on our hands.
Older vehicles just couldn't keep going without frequent maintenance; they broke down without timely vehicle care. Modern vehicles are designed to keep running even when they're not fully healthy. Unfortunately, that convenience has led some of us to become complacent and ignore vehicle care — until we have to fix something. And fixing something today takes a whole lot more than it used to.
Some people in St. Charles just don't feel comfortable taking their vehicles to their local St. Charles service center. They don't know much about engines or auto mechanics, so they don't know what questions to ask. They don't want to appear foolish or ignorant.
Your physician doesn't expect you to understand what a ligament is or how it works. But if you have a problem with one, she's going to explain to you what it is, what's wrong with it and how it can be fixed. It's in her best interest as well as yours to do so. You'll both feel more comfortable with the treatment.
That's what you can expect from the pros at Sparks Tire & Auto. They have to be highly trained and work with a lot of complex, high-tech systems. They don't expect their St. Charles customers to understand car care. So ask questions. You need auto advice from a service specialist, just as you need medical advice from a doctor and financial advice from a financial advisor.
Which brings us to the next concern: trust. A lot of rumors fly around St. Charles about auto repair scams. You may have heard about some local auto shops taking advantage of customers and replacing parts that weren't broken. Frankly, this is just bad business practice. St. Charles auto service centers won't stay in business long if they're engaged in this type of activity.
It's in the best interest of St. Charles service centers to diagnose a problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That's how they keep their businesses open.
Trust must be earned. But just as it took time for you to establish a relationship and rapport with your doctor, it will take time to build a relationship with your service center.
Also, realize that when your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Sparks Tire & Auto recommends routine maintenance, he is generally relying on your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. In other words, your trust lies both with your service advisor and your vehicle manufacturer. You'll find that most of the service recommendations from Sparks Tire & Auto you receive coincide with what's in your manual.
Those recommendations were set up by the engineers who designed your vehicle, not Sparks Tire & Auto. The team at Sparks Tire & Auto is just offering you a friendly reminder — a helpful reminder really, since most of us don't post our owner's manuals to our calendars.
Money is behind most neglect of vehicle maintenance. First, they worry that they can't afford it. Second, they worry that they're being overcharged.
The simple truth is, car care is like health care. We can't afford not to have it. Preventive maintenance is cheap compared to repair work. It extends the lives of our vehicles and saves us money on fuel. It also makes our vehicles safer to drive, which can prevent accidents. Putting off preventive maintenance can be very expensive.
St. Charles area service centers have to be competitive. Like any business, they can't afford to overcharge customers or they go out of business. But vehicle care today does cost more in Missouri than it used to. Vehicles are more sophisticated, complex and high-tech. That means technicians have to be better trained. They have to purchase high-tech diagnostic equipment and tools. They have to keep up with the latest advances in vehicle engineering and subscribe to computer databases. Like any business, they also have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, taxes, office supplies, etc.
If you are strapped for cash, Sparks Tire & Auto can offer auto advice to help you keep your car running safely and manage your budget. For example, let's say you need new brake pads, transmission service and a new cabin air filter. A technician can't ethically recommend you delay brake service: that creates a safety hazard for you and other St. Charles drivers. You need to get that done now. But they can let you know if the transmission service can wait a month and how long you can put off changing the cabin air filter. They can also estimate what these services will cost. That gives you the time and information you need to save up for the other services.
The key to modern car care is preventive maintenance. Our modern vehicles are safer, more fuel efficient and more reliable than ever before. But to keep them that way St. Charles drivers have to be more proactive about caring for them. It's good to know there are knowledgeable professionals at Sparks Tire & Auto who can help us do just that.