Click to view this email in a browser
The Diamond Certified® Consumer Report Twitter link Facebook link

In This Issue

Troubleshooting with Your Mechanic

Diamond Certified Preferred
Consumer Card

Know Your Rights When the Bill Collector Calls

Consumer Feedback:
Bavarian Tuning

New Diamond Certified

Savvy Tips of the Month

Maintenance to Increase Home Safety

Trees and Privacy

How to Recognize and Avoid Magazine Subscription Scams

Diamond Certified Quick Links






Read this newsletter and prior issues at Diamond Certified Newsletter Twitter

Troubleshooting with Your Mechanic

When you take your car to a mechanic, make sure you provide clear details about the problem. This car is being serviced at William Michael Automotive, a Diamond Certified company.

If you’ve ever had an intermittent car problem, you know how aggravating it can be. Recently, I heard a knocking sound coming from my Toyota’s rear left wheel, and by the time I brought it to the mechanic, the sound was gone and couldn’t be replicated. After two more visits and a test drive, nothing was found and the noise simply went away. Yet just last week, it started up again!

So, if you have an intermittent mechanical problem with your car, what should you do to help your mechanic get to the bottom of it? I sought some advice from Frank Walsh, owner of William Michael Automotive, a Diamond Certified auto repair shop in Santa Clara. He says the most important thing to do is give your mechanic as many details as possible. “Even the slightest details—how you’re driving, where you’re driving, when the problem occurs—can be helpful for duplicating the problem and getting a better diagnosis.” Here’s the rest of our conversation:

Savvy Consumer: Does it help if I can imitate or record the sounds my car makes?
Frank Walsh:
Yes. It’s also helpful to go for a test drive with the technician. People drive cars differently, and sometimes there’s a particular way they’re driving that aggravates the problem. When we see that, we know that when we go on our test drives, we have to drive in a certain manner to make the problem reoccur.

SC: How long should I be tracking the problem before I bring my car to a mechanic?
It depends on how often the problem occurs. If it happens once a day or once every other day, it’s time to bring in the car. If it happens once a month, try writing down when it occurs. What little things do you notice? Did the problem occur after a cold start or after driving for a while? Was it on the freeway or were you driving downtown? Did you have the air conditioner on? Those little details can make a big difference when it comes to making a diagnosis.

SC: Is it necessary to leave my car with my mechanic so the technicians can observe it over a longer period of time?
Yes, that’s usually the situation. We encourage our customers to plan a time when they can leave their cars with us for a few days, especially if we’re dealing with a cold start issue. We’ll only have a few minutes in the morning to witness the problem and decide where to hook up our test equipment. If we miss our opportunity, we have to wait until the next morning for the problem to occur again.

SC: Is it common for noises and other intermittent issues to go away on their own?
I do see situations like that, but a lot of times you can’t foresee the future, so I always tell customers that even though the noise went away, it could be an intermittent problem that comes back. Modern cars are very complex, and I’ve seen many instances where a car is doing something strange and then the problem goes away for no apparent reason.

SC: What if my mechanic can’t solve the problem after multiple visits?
A good shop will refer you to a company that has more knowledge and experience in that particular area. But be patient—it’s just as frustrating for you as it is for us. We want to get our customers’ problems diagnosed and fixed, but sometimes cars are stubborn and it takes two or three visits. Sometimes it’s just a matter of keeping an eye on the problem over time and going back to the same technician. Things may change, and all of a sudden, we’ll notice something new that might be causing the problem.

SC: Would a dealership know more about a chronic problem that others are experiencing than an independent repair shop?
That might be the case for newer vehicles that are still under warranty, but independent shops see a wider variety of issues and work on much older cars, so they’re able to think outside the box. We have to develop our own diagnostic procedures because they just don’t exist in some service manuals. Because of that, our technicians are a little more thorough about looking for that needle in the haystack. And vehicle history can be important, too. If there was a repair service done prior to a problem developing, sometimes that can be the related cause.

SC: Do mechanics ever visit troubleshooting chat rooms to help each other with tricky problems?
We utilize several online services. They’re basically made up of technicians from all over the United States, and their problems are archived so we can just enter the vehicle information and get answers. If it’s a computer code, we enter the numbers and it tells us some of the common problems that other technicians have seen. We don’t use this to diagnose anything; we use it to help validate our diagnoses in case there are questions.

SC: Any final tips for consumers who are dealing with this aggravating problem?
The most important thing is your initial contact with the shop. Try not to be vague with your description of the problem, and try to answer the service provider’s questions to the best of your ability. If we don’t get the answers right when you arrive, our technicians will ask us to call you about these questions later, which slows down the process. These little details might seem trivial, but they’re the key to quickly solving your problem.

Chris Bjorklund signature
Chris BjorklundChris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer

Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer Card

Diamond Certified® Preferred Customer Card

Have you signed up to become a Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer? Membership is always free and comes with numerous benefits, including a special member hotline, members-only access to additional tools on, a double Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee and more. Join now to get a free copy of the 2014 Diamond Certified Directory! Visit to get started.

Know Your Rights When the Bill Collector Calls

Communication is the key to dealing with a debt collector.

If you’ve fallen behind on payments, you might start getting phone calls and letters from a bill collector. Ignoring requests for payment will only make matters worse, so make it a habit to communicate quickly to resolve the problem. Do you really owe the money? It’s your right to ask for a written notice of the debt and the creditor’s name within five days of being notified. Debt collectors are allowed to call you between 8am and 9pm, but if you request all contact to be in writing, they must honor that request.

Federal and state laws allow collectors to contact your employer to verify your employment status, but they can’t discuss the debt itself with anyone else. If you ignore collections notices and the debt is validated, collection agencies can sue you and use that judgment to garnish your wages.


Kudos from Diamond Certified Consumers

Dear Diamond Certified:

I am proud to say that the first Diamond Certified company I chose was Bavarian Tuning in Santa Rosa. I needed to get some maintenance work done on my BMW, but I didn’t want to go to the dealer’s service center. I did an extensive search for a shop that would take good care of my baby. I went to the Diamond Certified Directory and ultimately chose Bavarian Tuning because they work exclusively on BMWs. The owner, Billy, races BMWs, and his whole team consists of BMW enthusiasts with the highest mechanics’ certifications. I knew my baby would be in good hands.

That was two years ago, and I still take my BMW to Billy and his team. I live in Vallejo, which is a one-hour drive from Santa Rosa, but the trip is well worth it for their excellent customer service, competitive prices and superior quality work. They earned my trust, so they earned my business.

Thank you,
G.G., Vallejo, CA

Diamond Certified ® Only companies rated Highest in Quality earn Diamond Certified

Companies Recently Earning Diamond Certified

Davis Home Pros

Walnut Creek - (925) 946-9746
Everlast Construction

Pleasant Hill - (866) 345-1712

Henry S. Chang, D.D.S., Inc.

San Jose - (408) 238-7646
Fireside Realty - Mark Folden & Brian Folden
San Jose - (408) 267-5350
Go Green Restoration Cleaning
Campbell - (866) 559-4441

Apes Plumbing, Heating, Sewer and Drains

Boyes Hot Springs - (707) 321-6815

Wayne & Son's Automotive Repair, LLC
Santa Rosa - (707) 546-3492

American Ratings Corporation - Diamond Certified • 504 Redwood Blvd. • Suite 210 Novato, California 94947 • (877) 312-1307
©2014 American Ratings Corporation