Saturday, March 5, 2011

Thermostat Replacement Thinking & Strategy

The thermostat on your car is basically a small valve inside the engine that regulates the flow of coolant. In most cases, when the thermostat fails, ( and they all fail eventually) it fails in the closed position and the engine overheats.

Option 1:

Replace the thermostat proactively at time and place of your choosing convenient for you.

Total cost for parts & labor approx. $250

Option 2:

Drive the car until the thermostat fails and the engine overheats.

Towing cost: approx. $100
Replace cylinder head gasket approx. $3,000
Or, maybe, replace the engine approx. $7,500

Some thermostat facts:
* disappointingly, the manufacturer lists no mandatory replacement interval for the engine thermostat.
* we can’t tell by looking at it how long a thermostat will last

Summary:
Except for oil changes, thermostat replacement is our #1 recommendation for smart, cost effective preventive maintenance.

Our shop’s Strategy & Procedure:

During your initial visit we will look for records and ask if the thermostat has been replaced. If we can’t say for certain its already been replaced, then will suggest it as smart preventive maintenance. We will document this in your repair history.

If we can’t determine for certain its already been done, and our customer declines to replace it preventively , then we will raise the issue again (nag) at each subsequent visit.

The cynics analysis:
Repair shops are better off saying nothing, waiting for the engine to overheat and then enjoying a nice juicy repair job.
Unfortunately, what usually happens is that:
a) customer is furious that “we let this happen”
b) they sell the car as scrap and buy a new car
c) we lose the customer

So, in summary, both the customer and the repair shop are better off with course of action #1: Proactive thermostat replacement

1 comment:

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