4630 Mission Bay Drive
San Diego, CA 92109
About Robert's Auto Service
8 great questions every customer should ask about auto repair!
How long has Robert's Auto Service been in business?
Robert's auto service has been in business since 1969, that's almost 40 years! Robert's has several employees who have been working here for over 25 years. That is unheard of in most businesses today, especially with an automotive repair business. This is because at Robert's auto service, we treat our employees as well as we do our customers. It's the employees who take care of the customers so we've found that happy employees who feel like family really care, and it shows. That means as a customer of Robert's auto service, you are going to be treated like family.
What is the general philosophy at Robert's Auto Service?
We treat every customer as though they were our grandmother who broke down out of town. I know I would want my grandmother to be treated very graciously and very carefully communicated with. I would want to feel comfortable that my grandmother was well taken care of at the auto repair facility she went to. With this same philosophy, every Robert's auto service customer is well taken care of, that is why we have won the coveted "AAA quality service award" two times in a row.
What is the "AAA quality service award?"
First of all, your auto repair facility has to be an "Approved Auto Repair" facility with the Automobile Club of Southern California, also known as the AAA. This program alone has many hurdles you have to clear in order to be qualified as an Approved Auto Repair facility. To become qualified, the AAA calls your customers and you have to meet certain customer satisfaction standards. You also have to have all the latest diagnostic equipment to properly diagnose and fix vehicles and have "ASE Certified" technicians. In addition, you have to continue to meet all these standards put forth by the AAA every year. The AAA calls our customer's and asks five questions. We need to have a "yes" answer to all five questions for it to be considered a satisfied customer. So the standard to be an "Approved Auto Repair" facility is very high. But even better than that, the AAA has a "Quality service award" that you can win. You have to have 98% or better customer satisfaction and can't have any more than one justified complaint in a two year period. So, every two years you can win the coveted "AAA quality service award". Robert's decided to work even harder over the past four years and we have won consecutive AAA quality service awards, less than 5% of existing Approved Auto Repair facilities can make that claim! The even better news for AAA customer's is they can "Show your card and save", so they have peace of mind and great value all wrapped up in one.
How well does Robert's auto service stand behind their work?
Robert's auto service offers a 2 year / 24,000 mile warranty on all repairs with only a few exceptions. That is double what almost everyone else offers out there including the dealers. If the dealers are the "quality standard" then why don't they offer more than a 12 month / 12.000 mile warranty? I feel if the first part lasted four or five years the replacement part should last at least 2 years or 24,000 miles! And, if you go to our website, www.robertsautoservice.com you will see right on the front page that we will beat any dealer price. So, you get better quality, better service, and better price. Robert's really is one of the best value's in town when you put everything together.
You have ASE certified technicians. What does that mean?
There is an organization called "ASE" which stands for automotive service excellence. This organization handles all the certifying for our industry. There are different areas in which technicians can take and pass the exams to become "certified" in a certain area, such as brakes, engines, transmissions, electrical, etc. Technicians that have passed all the exams, plus an advanced diagnostics exam are certified as an ASE master certified technician. I am proud to say that all of Robert's Auto Service technicians are ASE master certified. They are also smog technicians so they can perform your smog inspection and perform smog repairs on your vehicle.
The important thing about technicians that are certified is it saves the customer time and money. Let me give you an example of something I see that customer's do which can often cost them more money. Customer's will call an auto repair facility and ask if they charge for diagnosis. Most well run auto repair facilities that have certified technicians will charge you for diagnosis. However, customer's will often keep calling until they find a shop that doesn't charge for diagnosis, trying to save money. What usually ends up happening is the auto repair facility that didn't charge for diagnosis, and may not have certified technicians, replace many things on the vehicle to over compensate for the problem. They can do this and explain that these parts "should be replaced anyway" or should be done as "preventative maintenance". Although that may be the case, I have found when a shop charges for diagnosis they can pinpoint the exact problem and only replace the part that is the problem. When you add the repairs from both shops, the shop that didn't charge for diagnosis usually cost more by replacing more parts that were unnecessary, and sometimes with a lower quality part that what was originally on the vehicle. The shop that charged for diagnosis, and had certified technicians, actually saved the customer time and money and kept the vehicle more "original" than the other shop.
What about convenience?
Robert's auto service has two complimentary shuttles going all the time to get you to work or home and we'll come pick you up when the job is done. No waiting for the one shuttle at the dealer that has to leave at a certain time and pack everyone in hoping you'll get dropped off first, and then they often don't come pick you up. We also have very low price rental cars available with Hertz who is around the corner and will come and get you.
Auto repair has had a tarnished reputation over the years. Has this improved in the industry?
Yes, it has! What I still see though is that people get confused when dealing with an auto repair facility. This is usually because the customer didn't understand something or didn't feel comfortable with what the shop was recommending. Usually afterwards the customer will talk to someone who claims to be "in the know" and then the customer will get angry and feel "ripped off." I have found that the problem usually started because the shop did not do a good enough job communicating with the customer. Many times when you revisit the situation, you find the customer did not get "ripped off" at all; it was simply a misunderstanding of what was done and why it was done. That's why we have that "grandmother" philosophy here at Robert's. We slow down and treat everyone as though they were our grandmother breaking down out of town. How we would want her treated is how we treat our customers. So, yes, the situation has improved greatly over the years and it is rare that someone actually gets "ripped off". Usually these shops won't last long in today's environment with government regulations, the AAA, the BBB, and the consumer response teams that news networks have.
Do cars these days need as much maintenance as cars did ten years ago?
No, the truth is they don't! I think this is a very confusing issue for many customers, costing them time and money. Cars don't need as much maintenance as they did ten years ago. The manufacturers have done an outstanding job building cars better and making things more convenient for customers who purchase their vehicles. Most manufacturers are designing cars these days that don't need any "major" service until 90,000 miles or longer. However, they do expect customers to get more "services" instead of just oil changes. The manufacturers have designed cars to go longer between oil changes so they want things inspected with these services. I have found there are three areas consumers can end up paying more than they should. They all have the same theme in common in that the consumer is trying to control too many "price" things about the situation instead of educating themselves and working with the facility to get the right service at the right price.
The first is the customer who calls for a price on a "tune up". Cars haven't needed "tune ups" for the past ten years. The engine computer controls the way the vehicle performs. There is no manual adjustment or tune up that technicians make these days. So, when you call for a price on a "tune up", the shop will make up some "service" to get the customer in to the shop and then go through the vehicle and attempt to recommend a large amount of other services that should go along with the "tune up" that the customer thinks they need. This could be legitimate but often times it is an overkill of preventative maintenance items, half of which you probably won't find in your owner's manual telling you to do them. If you feel your car isn't running right you should call a shop and ask questions about what your vehicle is doing and communicate with them about the situation. They will ask you questions such as, "is the check engine light on?", "when was the last time you had the vehicle inspected or worked on?" etc. These questions can lead to great answers and pinpoint what needs to be done. Sometimes I have found the customer recently had the car worked on and their problem could be related to what was done. So, they go back to the shop that did the repair and they fix something under warranty. So keep in mind you don't need a "tune up" anymore. What you need is whatever service the owner's manual says to do at what mileage.
The second situation is the customer who shops around too much. Notice I say "too much". There is nothing wrong with shopping around, just make sure you have the facts you need in order to ask the right questions. I had a lady in the shop that was going by what her owner's manual said to do at the mileage she was at. She was just shy of 110,000 miles and was telling me how she will need the big service at 120,000 miles because that's what her owner's manual says, specifically that the spark plugs need to be replaced. She told me how she shops around for price and she had many different repair orders from many different auto repair shops shoved in her owner's manual. Luckily, I was able to make her feel comfortable enough with me to have her show me what was done over the past 15,000 miles so we can figure out what would be the best service for her. I saw that one of the previous shops replaced her spark plugs at 90,000 miles and they are "120,000 mile spark plugs" so she didn't need to replace the spark plugs again until 90,000 miles plus 120,000 miles (or at least another 90,000 miles). Had she called a shop without me discovering this for her, she would have told the shop she needed her 120,000 mile service, she would have asked for a price and kept calling other shops until she got the lowest price. The shop would have looked up the service in their maintenance schedule and saw that yes, the spark plugs need to be replaced at 120,00 miles, because that's what the manufacturer said that the plugs don't need to be replaced until then. So, she would have paid to have the spark plugs replaced again and paid for something she already had done. I saved her probably $250 with this information. So, don't just shop around. Know you owner's manual and what it recommends, know what has been done to the vehicle, get it figured out, then call and shop around and ask more questions then just price. Ask what exactly will be done with the service, how long it will take, etc.
Finally, don't over maintain your vehicle. Since cars are built so much better these days and going longer between oil changes/services, it is getting more difficult for automotive dealers, quick lube, and independent shops to stay profitable. Since they are seeing your vehicle less, the tendency is to find other things to offer. No one gets in trouble for pushing excessive preventative maintenance because everyone is different as to how well they want to take care of their vehicle. However, I found that most people spend too much on doing things to the vehicle that the owners manual doesn't mention to do. They went to a shop that persuaded them on the value of doing the services to help keep the car in good shape. Again, know what has been done to your vehicle and keep good records. Read your owners manual and know what should be done at what mileage. Once you are informed about these things, it will be easier for you to say "yes" or to say "no" to any shop that is recommending things. At the very least it will cause you to force them to explain "why" they want to recommend something in more detail.
So, since cars are better built these days and the computer controls most everything, cars seldom break down like they used to. The computer can make adjustments and keep the car running for you so you can get to a repair shop if you need to (it will usually turn the check engine light on when it does this.) The not so good news is repairs can be more costly these days because of this, but when you compare it to cars ten years ago, you are dollars and convenience ahead.