Ethics of Automotive Repair in Kalispell

We’re going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. It seems like news outlets really like hit-and-run reporting; they hit everyone from groceries stores to retail to physicians. And the Kalispell automotive service and repair industry hasn’t been given a pass either.

Unfortunately, every profession in Kalispell has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. On the automotive side, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.

Yet some people remain uncomfortable with Kalispell automotive service and repair. It may start with the fact that our vehicles are a big investment and we rely on them for so much in our lives. That alone guarantees our attention. And how well we understand the recommendations really impacts our comfort level.

If we understand what’s recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we’ll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It’s like going to the doctor; If she’s using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following her train of thought. It can be like that with your Kalispell service advisor too. He’s so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don’t know a PCV from an EGT.

If you don’t understand what your doctor’s talking about: ask some questions. If you don’t understand what your Kalispell automotive advisor’s talking about: ask some questions.

Let’s go back to those ethical standards; when we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, “Is this really necessary?” Well, here’s the industry standard:

If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:

  1. The part no longer performs its intended purpose
  2. The part does not meet a design specification
  3. The part is missing

For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician at Loren’s Auto Repair says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.

If you tried to get him to simply put new pads on, he would say that if you didn’t want to replace the rotor; Loren’s Auto Repair would ethically have to refuse the repair.

To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could’ve failed at anytime and needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.

Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:

  1. The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
  2. To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
  3. To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer
  4. Based on the technician’s informed experience

Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.

On Board Diagnostics For Your Subaru

Make an appointment with Loren’s Auto Repair to have your on board diagnostics analyzed.
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901
406-755-7757

Today we’re going to talk about on-board diagnostics and the questions we hear from folks around Kalispell MT who need answers about diagnostic services. They want to know what diagnostics are, what’s involved and what the benefits are. They really want to understand the value of diagnostic scans by a trained technician in Kalispell MT.

These are valid concerns. If you don’t understand something it’s really hard to know its value. Let’s start with some history.

Since 1996, all cars and light trucks in Kalispell MT have been required to use a standardized diagnostic system to help repair technicians determine what’s wrong with your vehicle. The diagnostic system works with the vehicle’s Engine Control Module – the computer that controls many engine functions.

The computer monitors dozens of components and processes. Depending on what the sensors read, the computer will make adjustments to compensate for conditions and minor problems. When there is a condition that it can’t adjust for, the computer will turn on the check engine light.

It is also called the ‘service engine soon’ light on some vehicles. The warning light signals you to get into your Kalispell MT service center so that the trouble code can be read and the problem can be fixed. Your service center will have a scan tool and powerful software that will help the technician diagnose the problem.

If you’ve searched for check engine light on the internet, you may have seen that you can buy an inexpensive scanner or go to an auto parts store to have the trouble code read to tell you exactly what’s wrong.

That’s a common myth. The code itself doesn’t tell you what’s broken. It starts you looking in the right place. It tells you what engine parameter is out of range – but it won’t tell you what’s wrong or how to fix it.

Let’s say you think your daughter has a fever. You take her temperature and it reads one 102 degrees. You’ve confirmed a fever, but you don’t know what’s causing it. Is it a 24 hour flu, an infection, appendicitis or leukemia? A fever is a symptom of all of these medical problems, but it takes a skilled physician’s examination and additional diagnostic tests to find out what is actually causing the fever.

An example of a trouble code could be: P0133, which reads ‘Bank 1 sensor 1 circuit slow response’. This means that the front oxygen sensor has a slow response time to changes in the air-fuel mix. If that’s all you knew about cars, you would think your oxygen sensor was broken and would replace it. Now, it could be the oxygen sensor – but it could also be a bad or contaminated airflow sensor, exhaust leak, electrical problem, an intake manifold leak or any of a number of other things.

You can imagine a lot of oxygen sensors have been replaced because of that code. So the on-board diagnostics point the way to where the trouble lies, but it takes some skill and high-tech equipment to actually pinpoint the problem. The cheap scan tools that a consumer can buy do not have the ability to retrieve some of the operating history that’s stored in the engine control computer. That history’s very helpful in diagnosing the problem. Service centers like Loren’s Auto Repair invest a lot of money in high-end diagnostic tools to help solve the mystery and get you back on the road as soon as possible without replacing a lot of parts that don’t need replacing.

So, on-board diagnostics provide a powerful starting place for a highly-trained, well-equipped technician to get to the bottom of your problem. When your check engine light comes on, get it checked at Loren’s Auto Repair. If the light burns steady – don’t panic. Get in to Loren’s Auto Repair soon to have the engine scanned. A flashing check engine light means that there is a severe engine problem. Get in as soon as you can – waiting too long can lead to very expensive damage.

And try to not drive at high speed or tow or haul heavy loads with a flashing check engine light.

Kalispell Customer Detective Work

One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician at Loren’s Auto Repair in Kalispell MT is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.

Cars are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So it’s challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem. If it’s not something obvious, it’s easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.

Let us introduce you to something we’ll call Customer Detective Work – that is helping your Kalispell MT technician find clues to what’s wrong.

We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me. You come in to Loren’s Auto Repair and your car is making a funny sound.

  • Q: Where’s the sound?
  • A: Around the right front wheel.
  • Q: What kind of sound?
  • A: Kind of a clunk, clunk sound.
  • Q: When do you hear the sound?
  • A: When I turn and accelerate.
  • Q: Right and left? Forwards and back?…

Do you see where we’re going? You’re gathering additional information to help your Kalispell MT technician know where to start. Based on your car and the tech’s experience, he’ll know where to look and can start with the obvious suspects.

You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says “making a funny noise”.

When you think you need to bring a vehicle in, make some notes about the problem. Rather than just saying “it’s leaking”, tell the tech the color of the fluid, and approximately where under the car you see the puddle.

Things like ‘the car is stalling or sputtering’ are often very hard to diagnose because they’re intermittent. They may not happen every time you drive and usually aren’t happening when you actually bring the car in. So, it is a big help for you to describe what’s happening in as much detail as possible.

Your Kalispell MT technician at Loren’s Auto Repair will need to be able to duplicate the problem if possible so he needs to know details, like ‘it stalls after it’s been driven for about 20 minutes and I go over 50 miles an hour’.

If the tech can experience the problem personally, he’s better able to make a diagnosis and repair. And, then test to see if the repair solved the problem.

Handling Distractions While Driving Around Kalispell

We’ve all seen people do crazy things while driving to or from Kalispell. A guy shaving in the rear-view mirror, a woman applying makeup, people talking on their phones, texting or drinking from an enormous coffee mug. All of these are an accident waiting to happen.

The truth is everyone in Kalispell MT is distracted when we drive. Traffic, road construction and other things outside the car are beyond our control. But the distractions inside our car are things we can often control.

Here’s some things that’ll give you more control in your car, and help keep your attention on the roads around Kalispell MT.

  • Drivers who are 16 to 20 years old tend to be more distracted by the radio, CD or MP3 player.
  • Drivers who are 20 to 29 are more distracted by passengers in the car, including small children.
  • And those over age 65 tend to be more distracted by objects or events that are outside of the vehicle.

Other factors like fatigue, stress and lack of sleep make it harder to pay attention to driving – no matter what age we are. People are also distracted by thinking about relationships, family issues, money and bills. So what can we do to manage these distractions? Well, the first thing is to eliminate as many as we can.

When you get in your car, make sure you’re belted in; that the seats, steering wheel and mirrors are adjusted; and your radio or CD player is ready.

Secure any loose objects in the car that can fall on the floor and interfere with your driving.

If you have a drink, make sure it’s spill-proof and put in a cup holder. Pets should also be contained.

If you’re riding with kids, make sure they’re wearing seat belts or secured in safety seats. You may want to give em some distractions to keep them quiet and sitting in their seats. Don’t get involved in their arguments while you’re driving. Pull over if you need to find a toy or break up a fight.

If you eat while driving, keep it to simple finger foods that aren’t messy.

Learning your car’s controls before you drive is another way to improve your safety. Know how to work the radio by touch. The same goes for heating and air conditioning controls.

If you have to use a cell phone, a hands-free system is best. But remember, the biggest cell phone distraction isn’t the phone itself – it’s the conversation. Keep conversations brief and light, or pull over if you can. Your reaction time is much slower when talking and driving, so allow more space between you and the car ahead of you. Know your local laws – it may be illegal to be on the phone or text in the Kalispell MT area.

And if you really think you have to shave, change your clothes or put on make-up while driving – you’re wrong. Just start getting ready earlier so you have enough time to finish those things before you drive into Kalispell MT.

Loren’s Auto Repair
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901
406-755-7757

Remember, driving is probably the most dangerous thing you’ll do all day – so don’t make it any worse. Use these tips to keep you and your loved ones safer behind the wheel.

Questions To Ask Your Kalispell Service Advisor

We find that a lot of Kalispell automotive service and repair customers are initially a little tentative when they talk with their automotive service advisors. They may want to ask questions, but don’t want to be embarrassed or appear unknowledgeable. Today’s cars, trucks, and SUVs are very complicated and there’s more to know about them than most of us have the time or desire to learn. Maybe it’s because vehicles have become so much more reliable that the average person just doesn’t need to know as much to keep their vehicle on the road.

Did you know, your local hospital has a Patient’s Bill of Rights that they post inside the hospital. We think our Kalispell automotive service customers also have a right to ask any question they need to understand what is wrong with their car or truck and what it will take to fix it right. They need to feel free to ask about the cost and benefits of recommended services. And they certainly have a right to understand the financial end of the transaction.

It’s all about the communication. It’s a little harder when you’re trying to find the right automotive service center in Kalispell. But once you’ve developed a relationship with a shop such as ours, the communication should become much easier.

What are some of the biggest barriers to communication? Well, let’s go back to the medical example. When your doctor is explaining something medical to you, it’s something that he or she understands very well and is very familiar with. So the doctor may use industry terms or jargon that you don’t understand or that you don’t have the education, background or training that is foundational to understanding what she’s trying to explain.

This creates confusion and it is easy to fall behind and get frustrated.

It can be the same with your Kalispell automotive service advisor. Most service advisors tend to be very busy trying to service and fix cars in order to get their customers back on the road. So if you feel confused, just ask when you need more information.

Financial related issues seem to be most frustrating to customers. If you’re not sure, ask what the payment policies are. For example, there’s a big difference between giving your car a quick once over and doing a thorough inspection. Diagnosing a problem may take quite a while. Make sure you know what’s done as a courtesy and what has a fee. Remember, you still have to pay for the office visit even if the doctor says you only have a cold.

Communication is always a two way street. If you have real budget concerns, ask your Kalispell service advisor what options may be available to you. He can let you which items are priorities and the recommended order in which they should be done . He can tell you what needs to be taken care of right away for safety or financial reasons. Then you can work out a plan for when to get the rest done. He can also help you with options on the parts. The preference is to always use a high-quality part with a reputation for reliability. But if money is real tight, he might be able to find a rebuilt part or a remanufactured part. The service advisor should tell you the difference in the guarantee for the part so you can make a good decision.

Ask about warranties for parts and labor. Be sure to get all the paperwork you need to make a possible claim in the future. Loren’s Auto Repair and its technicians stand behind their work and want you to understand precisely what that means.

Be sure to ask for and keep a detailed explanation of all the work that’s done on your vehicle. These records will help you keep track of service, warranties and document the good care your vehicle has received when the time comes to sell it.

Call Loren’s Auto Repair to make an appointment.
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901
406-755-7757

What Kalispell Automotive Service Consumers Should Know

There are some things Kalispell consumers should know about Kalispell automotive service and repair. First and foremost, Loren’s Auto Repair cares about you and your family’s safety. And we really appreciate your business. Loren’s Auto Repair in Kalispell wants to build a trusting relationship that becomes the foundation for a mutually beneficial experience for years to come.

Building on that foundation, there are some things that would help you understand the auto service and repair business better. First, it can be really hard to fix cars. The days of shade tree mechanics are long gone. The majority of automotive systems are computerized. It takes a lot of training and very expensive equipment to diagnose and repair modern vehicles. The technicians that work for Loren’s Auto Repair need extensive computer training – not just how to run the diagnostic systems, but also searching for the right parts, networking with other technicians to help them with a difficult problem and pulling together a job order that makes sure that each step of the process is addressed.

The threshold for getting started as a technician gets higher all the time and there is a huge commitment to on-going training every year. This training takes time and money. It contributes to business overhead. The average Whitefish or Columbia Falls driver may not realize the business and environmental regulations Loren’s Auto Repair must comply with. Of course that costs money too. Like any business, overhead is a big factor.

When you go into a Kalispell restaurant you don’t value the meal by what the food would cost at the grocery store. The restaurant has rent, wages, insurance, taxes, utilities, professional fees, equipment, supplies – you get the picture. The restaurant has to charge enough to not only pay for the ingredients, but for all these other things as well while making enough profit to remain in business. If you value the meal and are satisfied with your dining experience, you’ll come back and tell your friends.

It’s the same for Loren’s Auto Repair. The value of its service is not the cost of the parts they replace, but in your satisfaction with the results. If they deliver a good product at a fair price, Kalispell customers are happy to see them succeed as a MT automotive business.

Contact Loren’s Auto Repair to learn more about our extensive auto service training.
You can find us at:
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901
Or call us at 406-755-7757

Your Kalispell service center loves to see its customers whenever they come in, but they would much rather see them three or four times a year for routine maintenance than once a year on a tow truck. They want to work together with you to avoid breakdowns. Tell your Kalispell area friends and family to go in for their scheduled maintenance too. That lowers the service center’s marketing costs and helps keep its labor rates down. That’s good for everyone.

Loren’s Auto Repair appreciates this great review of automotive service from AutoNetTV.

Your Well Trained Technician At Loren’s Auto Repair

When your Subaru breaks down, or just needs some routine service, you might get a little nervous. Your car’s so important to your life in Columbia Falls, you need to back on the road as soon as possible – with the problem fixed right the first time.

If you’ve ever checked into some of the technician training Loren’s Auto Repair professionals receive, you may be surprised at how much knowledge and skill goes into diagnosing and repairing a modern car. Let me give you some perspective. Today there are four cylinder engines that make more power than the V-8’s in luxury cars twenty years ago. I mean a new V-6 Toyota Camry could beat Sonny Crocket’s Ferrari in a race to sixty.

Your Well Trained Technician At Loren's Auto Repair

Our engines are more and more powerful and at the same time their fuel economy keeps inching up – even with steep Columbia Falls gas prices. And they’re so reliable. This is all due to engineering. But the advances come at the price of simplicity. The modern cars driving around Columbia Falls roads are so much more complex from a mechanical standpoint that it makes your head spin – not to mention the electronics.

Some cars have several networked computers controlling most of the engine functions and many other vehicle functions as well. Columbia Falls motorists take all of this sophistication for granted – but somebody has to fix it when it breaks. It’s a real challenge for Loren’s Auto Repair technicians to keep up, but we work hard to stay ahead of the technology. It requires a high level of commitment on the part of the technician and the Columbia Falls service center as well.

In addition to the training, there’s the financial commitment to purchase the diagnostic and repair tools. Loren’s Auto Repair technicians receive training through a combination of formal classroom training, training provided at Loren’s Auto Repair by parts and equipment manufacturers, on-line courses and home study courses.

There are many independent certifications available at Loren’s Auto Repair all the way up to Master Technician. The ability to repair your Subaru requires a strong combination of training and resources. No one can know everything, so Columbia Falls auto service centers subscribe to data services, technical libraries and even on-line communities that can help them when they run into a difficult problem.

It’s like those medical diagnosis shows on TV. Here are the symptoms – what’s the diagnosis and treatment? Diagnosis is every bit as much an art as a science. At Loren’s Auto Repair, we want everything to be simple, straightforward and cheap – but sometimes it just isn’t.

So try to be more relaxed next time you bring us your Subaru. You’re in good hands.

On Board Diagnostics For Kalispell Motorists

lorens auto repair best in on board diagnostics

Some Kalispell motorists are confused by Loren’s Auto Repair charges for diagnostic services for a vehicle repair. Many services at Loren’s Auto Repair and other Kalispell automotive repair shops include diagnostic fees.

When you take your laptop into a Kalispell computer repair shop for a problem you’ll likely have to leave a deposit for diagnostics. When we visit our Whitefish doctor for a medical problem, we’re paying him to diagnose our ailment and of course for the tests that go along with it.

On Board Diagnostics For Kalispell Motorists

So receiving a diagnostic charge at Loren’s Auto Repair for a tricky automotive problem shouldn’t be a surprise. In the Kalispell area, automotive diagnostics can cover quite a range. If you hear a noise in your Subaru brakes when you slow down in rush-hour traffic on a busy MT expressway, you pull off the next off-ramp and take a quick visual check. That is usually enough to know what needs to be done. If you’re having an intermittent problem with your Subaru engine, Loren’s Auto Repair diagnosis may be much more involved.

Much of the Kalispell public’s confusion comes when the problem involves the check engine light. The check engine light comes on when the engine management computer has sensed a problem.

There’s a common misconception among Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and Big Fork drivers that the trouble code tells the Loren’s Auto Repair technician exactly what’s wrong. Why then is there a diagnostic charge, the scanner just gave the diagnosis?

Reality is more involved than that. The computer monitors many sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of these sensors has a reading that’s out of parameters, the computer will record a trouble code and turn on the check engine light.

The Subaru computer’s trouble code just tells the Loren’s Auto Repair technician what engine parameter is out of range – not what’s causing it. The technician needs to determine the underlying problem that’s causing the symptom.

There are many problems that could cause a troublesome sensor reading for Loren’s Auto Repair Kalispell customers. The Loren’s Auto Repair technician makes a list of the most likely causes and begins tracking down the source of the problem.

Kalispell service centers subscribe to databases that document possible causes for a given trouble code. They outline procedures for confirming a diagnosis and provide the documented fix. These databases are specific to each vehicle and engine combination.

Some diagnoses are quick and easy. Others are more involved and difficult. Of course Loren’s Auto Repair wants to figure out what’s wrong with your Subaru and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.



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Steve Waatti
Steve Waatti
17:44 05 Apr 18
Best Shop in town. Very clean and well organized. No extra BS charges or anything fishy. Full vehicle inspections with oil changes. Very knowledgeable crew. I bring all my personal and company vehicles to Loren's. Highly recommended.
Ricky Chevy
Ricky Chevy
21:04 15 Jan 18
Excellent service!! We are from Wisconsin and found Loren's on the web. They were able to fly in a new front axle and get us on the road in just 3 days at a very reasonable price. A quick follow up visit for adjustments allowed us to continue our vacation as planned. Absolutely recommend them. Mark was personable and knowledgeable, they offered a shuttle service and John was a great technician for our Xterra!!
Hallie K
Hallie K
02:04 06 Jan 18
This was the best car repair shop I have ever done business with. For being a young woman, who honestly doesn’t know a ton about cars, they were very thorough in explaining things and I trusted that they weren’t trying to rip me off based off my lack of knowledge or me being a young girl. Too many times have mechanics/car maintenance men try and rip me off. Once someone tried to charge me $180 for an oil change! Ridiculous. But not with these guys. They were awesome. My car broke down at a horrible time when I was busy with work and about to go on vacation. I had my car towed there and didn’t have time to stop by. They inspected it very soon after that, and got ahold of me. Then I was out of town for a couple weeks and they let me keep my car there. Even when I got back they had put it in the shop the night before so all the snow would melt. They were very friendly and even have a complimentary shuttle service when needed. I wish I could give the names of all the people who helped! Chad was awesome and answered all my questions and my dads when he called from a state away haha! The young girl who picked me up from the shuttle was super nice and has good people skills. If I ever have car problems again they will definitely be who I go to. Thanks guys!
Monica Taylor
Monica Taylor
21:37 08 Nov 17
Lorens never disappoints! They continually meet above my expectations. They met competitive rates, they have been upfront with charges and even gave me a loaner vehicle while doing their repairs. I will only ever use this shop. Mark at service desk is amazing and very knowledgeable!
Erika Myhre
Erika Myhre
14:03 29 Aug 17
I'm out here in West Glacier on vacation. During the trip, we hit a pothole and the exhaust started making a loud noise. We figured a hole had rusted open or something similar. We called Loren's Auto Repair to get it checked out, and they were awesome with recommendations. They let us explain the issue and then confirmed what we thought it was. They weren't able to get us in before we left, but they were kind enough to suggest a mechanic in town that possibly could squeeze us in. This conversation was a sign of trust and good business. The prices they quoted were fair and had excellent customer service. Thanks!
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