Thursday, February 26, 2009

There’s no substitute for the eyes of a technician

If you’re buying a car, you want the peace of mind that you’re getting something of good quality.

State inspections are for safety, they’re not an in depth review of the vehicle. On top of safety inspections, many consumers have come to rely on outside services, like CARFAX or Experian to check the history of a vehicle in the databases that they have available. There’s a myth that if the vehicle is “okay” by those companies, then the car must be alright. The challenge is that even at our very own body shops, 20% of the repairs are not insurance related. That means that those repairs do not make it into any database.

What’s a consumer to do?

My recommendation, from the days when I was on the showroom floor myself, has always been to have the qualified technicians from the dealership check a vehicle over. We do that for you here at Fitzgerald. They can tell if a car has had paint repairs, frame repairs etc. That alone doesn’t make them a “bad” vehicle. The question is “Was it repaired correctly? Are there any unrestored areas? Will it drive the same as before the damage occurred?”

We do not sell any car to a consumer without our comprehensive inspection. Although we can’t see inside the engine/transmission, we look at everything possible to see, review and measure. Our technician gives his opinion in writing and his signed report goes with the vehicle. It is placed in the glove box of the vehicle before we offer it for sale.

I have the option to drive many vehicles, but one of the vehicles I like to drive is a plug in hybrid, that was previously a total loss. Our own technicians repaired the vehicle and I’ve had so many people completely surprised by the smooth ride of and “great” feel of the car. When I tell them it was repaired from an accident where it was a total loss, they’re shocked. Databases can’t replace the expertise of technicians and their trained eye. My previously totaled plug in Prius does not show up in any database.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wow! The Washington Auto Show

Last night I had the good fortune to be present at the preview night for the Washington Auto Show. For years the Auto Show was held the week between Christmas and New Years, when Congress was out of session. Fortunately, it was moved right as the new convention center opened and has really become a place for members of the US Senate and Congress to see first hand the innovation that's here today!

We have some amazing products that are on the market and coming to market, in fact, I spent almost the entire evening in the "Green" vehicle area right off the main lobby. It's fitting that this year's auto show theme is "Driven by the Environment" when you see the vehicles and the alternative energy sources that power them. I'd like to extend my congratulations to Congressmen John Dingel, recipient of the Inaugural Keith Crain award from the Washington Auto Show for his lifelong dedication to the workers in the automotive industry. There are great challenges ahead, but we have great products to share too. I hope you visit the show, running through February 8th.