When a young military wife visited the parts store after a problem occurred with her car, the news wasn’t good. With her husband deployed, dealing with such issues was up to her. The clerk gave her a printout based on the computer code message from her car and recommended that she buy a new part related to the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) system.
Instead, she decided to take the car to Bron’s Automotive and have owner Bron Lindgren look at it since she had used his shop for previous work. “First, you always do a visual inspection,” says Lindgren. “It turned out that the EGR hose had come loose from the valve. We put it back on, cleared the code out of the computer, verified that it worked and that was it. She was very happy.”
Situations like this are typical, says Lindgren. In the auto repair and maintenance industry, misdiagnosis can end up costing more money in the long haul and sometimes in the short term as well. When people come to his shop, Lindgren emphasizes the importance of correctly identifying issues in contributing to the life of a vehicle.
“Diagnosis is more important than most people understand,” he says. “Most people think, ‘I already know what’s wrong with it.’ But if they don’t get a full diagnosis, they’re gambling. If they get the cause right the first time, they win. If they get it wrong, they never catch up. That’s one thing that factors into our repairs. We make sure we’re right the first time.”
If the diagnosis is incorrect, the problem can be compounded rather than alleviated. “There are a lot of people out there who are unhappy with shops because of an incorrect or incomplete diagnosis,” he says. “It may be something as simple as, ‘Hey, my water pump is leaking.’ But if I don’t take a few minutes to verify that it’s all that’s leaking – that the seam on the radiator or the thermostat housing aren’t also leaking – then I may fix the leak on the water pump, and once it holds pressure, water will start to ooze out somewhere else.”
Once a customer knows the extent of the problem, they can make decisions and create priorities. “If you need all three to be fixed but can only afford the water pump, you get it,” says Lindgren. “Let’s fix the worst leak first, but you’ll know what’s going on and what needs attention next.”
Since the computerized aspects of most vehicles have codes, some customers think the code will tell them what’s wrong. That’s not always the case, says Lindgren. “There are about a thousand different codes. You may get a code that says ‘Oxygen Sensor Bank One Stuck Lean.’ People will assume that they have a bad oxygen sensor, but more often it’s stuck lean because it’s responding to another defect, such as a vacuum leak or dirty mass air flow sensor. There can be all kinds of reasons for it. You can’t just buy a part and say, ‘This will fix it.’ We take the time to know why the code set, so we can guarantee the repair’”
Bron’s Automotive Repair
1025 Black Lake Boulevard in Olympia
Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.