Caring for a car is an essential part of ownership. But just as drivers have to stick to a scheduled maintenance plan and keep track of their service history, they must keep an eye out for potential recalls as well. There may even be common problems that plague the model but don't warrant a full-scale recall, and that requires individual action on the part of the driver.
While these events are often few and far between, motorists should still be ready should an emergency arise. There is good news: As frustrating as it is to need some kind of car repair, drivers are happier than ever with the service they are receiving from professional technicians.
Recalls aren't a problem
A recent study from J.D. Power found that most people are satisfied with the customer service they receive as part of vehicle ownership. The results showed that drivers who take their cars in for recall-related updates rated their experience as a 789 on a 1,000-point scale, which is an improvement from the 777 rating last year.
"Even though recalls can create a large influx of customers into the service department and really strain capacity, automakers are better prepared to handle recalls than they were a few years ago," said Chris Sutton, vice president of U.S. automotive retail practice at J.D. Power. "Manufacturers have shown that it is possible to turn a potential negative into a positive when it comes to recalls if they're done in a way that doesn't inconvenience the customer."
People who head in for other types of vehicle maintenance or repairs are just as satisfied. The study noted that car owners who head into the shop for some kind of work unrelated to recalls have a satisfaction rating of 781. Although this is lower than that of recalls, it's still a relatively high score - and one that bodes well for the auto industry.
Some brands stand out
Certain manufacturers are taking strides to make sure their auto repair efforts don't go unnoticed. J.D. Power ranked Jaguar as one of the best brands in these situations. According to the research, Jaguar is tops when it comes to customer satisfaction with vehicle maintenance and repairs.
The study noted that the luxury brand made a name for itself thanks to the quality of servicing, as well as the overall experience drivers have when they take their car into the shop. In a survey of more than 70,000 drivers, the Jaguar brand stood out with fair pricing, friendly workers, clean facilities and - above all - an excellent repair process.
While this may have been the No. 1 automaker, many others offer similar service and excellent satisfaction for all customers. J.D. Power acknowledged Buick as one of the winners in the non-luxury segment. MINI, Volkswagen and GMC were also recognized for outstanding service, while luxury brands such as Lexus and Audi were close behind Jaguar.
Staying ahead of major issues
Regardless of what type of vehicle you have, you can stay on top of maintenance and prevent problems from growing too big or too costly. Auto tune ups can have a car running smoothly throughout the year. These appointments are also a great way for technicians to identify hazards before they become overly expensive.
Even newer models need to be cared for regularly. Make sure you're taking a vehicle in for standard maintenance at the recommended intervals, not just when you notice something interfering with your driving experience. An owner's manual will have lots of information on when these appointments should be made but check with the professionals at your local auto repair franchise as well. They may have inside knowledge and a detailed service history that influences the decision.