Time for some repairs on your trusty Volvo, but apprehensive about working with dealer?
We’ve all heard horror stories, so you’re in good company. Fortunately though, with a little planning, you can have a great experience working with your Volvo dealer – or any dealer or repair shop for that matter.
Dealerships are typically independently-owned, so you never quite know what kind of experience you’re going to get. Some provide great service all around, while others come up short. They might have great sales staff, but less than great service and repair staff. Or on the flip side, their employees upfront might be callous or inept, but the mechanics trustworthy and helpful. You just never know!
While we hope and trust that most Volvo dealers are out there to provide quality service, it’s up to you to ensure that happens! Below we outline some steps and considerations on how to deal with your Volvo dealer when your car needs repair.
As with anything in life, preparation is half the battle, so know before you go!
Know Before You Go to Ensure Great Experience
The easiest way to ensure a great experience when working with your Volvo dealer – or any dealer or repair shop for that matter – is to plan ahead.
First, be able to describe exactly what’s wrong with your car. Does the engine make a peculiar sound? Know how to describe it or, better yet, record the sound with your phone just in case you can’t replicate it while at the dealer.
Don’t be afraid to do some research yourself as well. Type your model, year, and symptoms into Google. What you’re experiencing might be a common issue with your model and no doubt others have had similar experiences, along with fixes.
If the problem is intermittent (a sound when you turn, for example), make a recording and try to figure out how to replicate it before going to the dealer. There’s nothing worse than getting to the repair shop and suddenly your car seems to work perfectly, leaving you stranded and having wasted an hour of your life.
If your car is still under warranty, grab your warranty book from your glovebox and check it beforehand to familiarize yourself with what it covers. Volvo offers different warranties for different components. Since 2013, Volvo warranties break down as such:
- 3 year/36k routine maintenance (3 visits)
- 4 year/50k mile powertrain/bumper-to-bumper warranty
- 8 year/80k mile emissions control warranty (federal regulation)
- 12 year body corrosion/rust warranty
Federal law prohibits auto manufacturers from voiding warranties if you’ve had maintenance performed outside of dealerships, but they can void warranties if there’s no proof of required maintenance.
If you’ve visited independent shops for oil changes (or anything else) and you’re seeking repair under warranty, try to find all your maintenance receipts beforehand so you can prove you’ve taken regular care of the vehicle as per your car’s maintenance schedule. If your dealer asks for proof of maintenance, you’ll be prepared!
Last, be sure to find the right dealer for you. If you already know where you’re going and your Volvo is equipped with Sensus Connect, you can schedule your appointment right from your car! If you’re not quite sure which dealership or repair shop to visit, take a look at the section below.
Finding the Right Dealership
Finding a reputable dealer is another important step to ensure a great repair experience. Despite all dealerships sporting the Volvo logo, customer service can vary – just like at any business with multiple locations. Some will have great service at the counter, but poor quality in the garage. Take some time to find the best dealership for your needs.
Here’s a few tips to get you started:
- First off, if you already have a Volvo dealer you trust, by all means continue using them!
- That being said, if your vehicle is still under warranty, you don’t have to go to the same shop you purchased your car from. If you live in a bigger city, this allows you to shop around a bit for the best dealer service garage you can find. Your costs might be covered under warranty, but you still want the best service you can find!
- If you don’t have a dealer already in mind, talk to family or friends with Volvos to see who they use. You might find a dealership you weren’t aware of. Maybe there’s one in the next town that provides exceptional service. If you don’t already have a preferred dealer, a personal recommendation is the next best thing.
- Even if you loved the dealer you purchased your Volvo from, their garage might provide a different experience entirely. It doesn’t hurt to jump online to see what actual customers have to say. A great place to start is Yelp, as users can leave reviews for specific dealers and locations, not just the company as a whole. Also try reviews on Google Maps. Lastly, DealerRater allows customers to leave overall reviews for the dealership as well as rate their customer service, friendliness, and pricing.
Basically, the more you know beforehand, the better off you are!
Dealing with a Volvo Dealer for Repairs
If you’ve followed the steps above, you’re already well on your way to a great experience working with your dealership.
Keep in mind that not ALL dealers are out to shiest you, so come to your experience with a positive attitude and friendly spirit. (If something goes wrong, a good attitude can go a long way).
Dealers get busy and some issues always take longer than expected to fix. That’s the nature of any business. Try to say flexible and sympathetic. That being said, any dealership or repair shop should try to respect their timelines and, at the very least, give you a heads-up well ahead of time if your car won’t be ready by the agreed upon time.
To protect yourself, try to get everything in writing as insurance later on. If they give you an estimate, have them print it out. Print out exactly what you want them to do with your car. Any special considerations? Give them a list. The more information that is in writing, the more protected you are later on. If they ‘misremember’ something, all you need to do is point to the paper you have in your hand.
What If I’m No Longer Under Warranty?
So your warranty’s run out, huh? That’s never a good thing, but it does open you up to a whole new world of possibilities!
If you’ve got a great Volvo dealer you already work with for repairs, and don’t mind paying the dealer premium bucks, by all means continue working with them. If you don’t though, you’re now free to call up some independent garages to see their prices. There are of course, Volvo-specific shops out there, so it doesn’t hurt to do a quick search online to see what’s around you. Some shops even claim they’ll match dealer prices, coupons and all!
Don’t forget that, in an effort to attract more brand loyalty, in 2015 Volvo began offering lifetime warranties on all replacement parts (including labor) for post-warranty repairs performed at Volvo dealerships. While you might spend more upfront by working with a dealership, that’s a pretty sweet deal for parts that get worn out regularly. Regular maintenance parts (like bulbs, fuses, windshield wipers, and brake rotors) aren’t covered.
If you don’t mind getting your hands a bit dirty, you could even try out some simple DIY options! Replacing your air filters and spark plugs is a great way to save some cash and only takes, at most, a few hours. Interested in something a bit deeper? Start changing out your own oil. You’ll save anywhere from $20 to $60 bucks for 30 minutes of work.
What to Do If Things Go Sour
Inevitably, you’ll have that experience where everything seems to go wrong. Maybe they’re not honoring your warranty, or they’re suddenly claiming it’s going to cost twice as much. Maybe they ‘fixed’ the problem but you drive away and still hear that clunking.
We’ve all been there. In this situation, your prep work is going to help you out quite a bit. Did you stay friendly before? Good job. Keep doing it. A good attitude can get you far.
Did you get everything in writing? Good. Kindly show it to them.
Are they claiming work isn’t covered under warranty, when you know it should be? Grab your warranty from your glovebox (it’s still there, right?) and kindly show it to them.
Oftentimes, simply letting them know that you’re an informed, prepared individual is enough for them to fix their ‘mistakes’.
If their fees seem high or they deny your warranty claim, don’t get angry! Just go talk to other dealers. We already mentioned that dealerships are independently-owned. What one dealer refuses to work on or cover under warranty might be nothing for another dealer. (Stories like this abound regardless of your manufacturer).
No success with other dealers? Your last option is to complain to supervisors or contact the manufacturer. If things get really serious, you can contact the BBB or Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint, but hopefully it won’t come to that.
Again, the best insurance for a great experience is doing your homework beforehand. Vet the dealer’s service department before bringing in your car. Ask around or look up reviews online. Having your car serviced or repaired is just part of owning an automobile. It’s up to you though to ensure you have a great experience getting those repairs!