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Service advisors and technicians are all-too-familiar with the telltale signs of poor vehicle maintenance. But nowhere are these problems more prevalent than in the shops that do business with the college crowd.
"Many of the cars we see from this population are not brought in for maintenance — they are brought in for a large repair," says Larry Moore, owner of Larry's AutoWorks in Mountain View, Calif., where he services the vehicles of Stanford University students.
Interestingly enough, says Moore, these cars aren't the beaters you'd think they might be. Still, even the most basic of vehicles needs to be cared for — which is often a tricky proposition for cash-strapped 18-year-olds far away from home.
"It's a little more difficult to deal with students," says John Morgavan, owner of Valparaiso Transmission, in Valparaiso, Ind. Morgavan's shop is located a block from Valparaiso University. "You have to handle them differently. For example, you may have to go through more channels to get permission to do the repairs. Most of the time, if the car is already at the shop, the parents will go ahead and OK the repair."
Dave Justice, the owner of Parkway Auto Care Goodyear in Berea, Ohio, says communication is perhaps the one factor that can help solve — or exacerbate — problems between a service provider and the customer. For the past seven years, his shop has provided service for students, faculty and staff at Baldwin-Wallace College.
"I think the biggest thing we need to do in our industry is to be able to qualify problems and then to clearly explain what we need to do in order to repair the vehicle," he says. "As long as you can get the right information from the customer, as long as you can ask the right questions, you're OK."
— Sue Angell
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