General Question

jlm11f's avatar

Is it acceptable for car maintenance workers to change your settings?

Asked by jlm11f (12403points) July 5th, 2008

I just got my car back from maintenance (gave it in on Wednesday). ALL the radio channels had been changed to other stations, the AC was blasting and set on facing the person and their foot (it was originally set on the back mirror and i don’t use it in general since it wastes resources) and the gas was considerably lower. I can rationalize the change in gas level by thinking that maybe they needed to take it out for a test drive on the highway to make sure the new brakes are working fine etc. But living in Ohio (where it’s not that hot), is it REALLY acceptable to change all the radio stations and blast the AC? even if the person wanted to listen to some music while working on the car, do they need to change all stations or shouldn’t they have set it back to the normal one? I am asking this Q because I don’t know if this is normal practice by all car maintenance workers (this is only my second time) and should I just accept it or is it not how they usually do things and i should change my servicing store.

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16 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

If they change anything, as a courtesy they should put it back.

I went to pick up my car once and the boss mechanic said his assistant was out test-driving it. Ten minutes later my car pulls up and this kid gets out with four bags of lunch from Carl’s Jr. My car smelled like fries for a week.

jrpowell's avatar

Do you know the stations were actually changed? Maybe they disconnected that battery for a while and the went back to the default settings. The AC thing wouldn’t bother me, and the gas thing is to be expected.

I just really doubt they changed all your station presets. I could understand changing the current station. Was there a theme with the new stations? If you like hip-hop they might fuck with you and change it to all country music.

scamp's avatar

I think you should call in a complaint to the manager. I doubt it will do you much good (refund, ect.) but you might feel a little better if you let off a little steam with him. I think what they did was unacceptable. At most you will probably get an apology and nothing more tho.

buster's avatar

I wouldn’t worry about that stuff. If it came back with a dent, scratch, or rip in the seat then I would get upset.

marinelife's avatar

Hey PnL, I don’t think the mechanics did anything here. I am not saying that what PnT described can’t happen, but mechanics really don’t have time to mess with cars—or annoy customers. More activities than you might imagine require disconnecting the battery for safety reasons. When that is done, everything on the car’s computer is reset.

In fact, they now have a memory saver device. Here is what the ebay ad says can happen:

Design to maintain the memory Of the on-board vehicle computer, digital clocks, digital radios, Keyless entry system etc when the battery is disconnected
Disconnecting the battery of a car with an automotive computer that retains pre-programmed settings (digital clocks, digital radios, keyless entry systems, etc ), will result in the immediate loss of these functions.
Newer vehicles with anti-theft radio/stereo systems will cease to function if power is disconnected.
Re-coding of the anti-theft system must be completed prior to any future use.
Also, when the car battery has been disconnected it may take up to 320 km of driving to re-program other computer functions such as “failed driveability codes”.”

By the way, I suspect the latter explains the gas issue.

scamp's avatar

All good points, but in the original post I think she said they worked on her brakes. PnL did they do anything else?

marinelife's avatar

@scamp From my post above: “More activities than you might imagine require disconnecting the battery for safety reasons.”

jrpowell's avatar

Even if they did work on the brakes it is fairly common to disconnect the battery because you don’t really want to take a chance with getting a shock. Imagine a guy doesn’t know that you are working under the car and he starts it up and tries to drive off the lift thinking that the work is already done.

When I fixed projectors I always killed the power at the breaker before I would get inside one.

scamp's avatar

That’s true.Thanks for pointing that out jp and Marina!

Seesul's avatar

It’s a good idea to note your mileage when dropping it off. We had a car returned with a 68 mile “test drive” when it was in for paint only. Turns out that the employee took it drag racing (to see if the paint would stick?).

marinelife's avatar

@Seesul That seems excessive. How did the mechanic or dealer compensate you?

mcbealer's avatar

Settings are one thing, but any significant changes in mileage or fuel level without your prior consent/knowledge would be breaches in the garage’s customer service.

jlm11f's avatar

Thank you all for your answers. I will try to respond to them accordingly.
PnT – It didn’t smell like food, thankfully.
JP – i think that disconnecting the battery is probably the most probable reason, ironically all my stations were hip hop and i didn’t hear all 6 of the changed ones, but at least 2 of them were country.
scamp – my car is still under warranty so i didn’t pay anything for the service. i just wasn’t sure whether as a customer i should be annoyed by the changes made or should have expected them. i of course, did think of calling the manager when i first saw what happened but i have cooled off since then :)
buster – i wasn’t “worrying” per se, i just wanted know my rights as a customer.
Marina – thank you for the all the information. i really didn’t give much thought to the safety of the mechanic before (and am now embarrassed) but of course this makes sense. if i were the mechanic on the car, i would definitely disconnect the battery too, and i did consider the option but it was just weird since the radio stations weren’t set to random but seemed to display a certain genre. i mean, when you reset the radio, those are not the typical stations you get.
Seesul – of course i didn’t bother noticing my mileage. how stupid of me :(
mcbealer – i guess i should read the customer service rules or whatever they are.
To everyone – in case you are curious, the brake fluid was leaking, so they had to replace the brake booster and brake fluid tube parts. (or something like that anyway).

Thank you again for helping me understand the process a lot better !!!

El_Cadejo's avatar

I hate that every time i leave my vehicle somewhere to get worked on, when i come back for it, its in gear. I never leave my truck in gear just neutral and the E brake because well thats all thats necessary but they find the need to always leave it in first. So i hope into my truck start it and then stall like an asshole. Pisses me off every time.

jellyone's avatar

I think they were out of line on that one. I can see the seats being adjusted and maybe the AC. The are supposed to be provided a service and not taking joy rides.

I’d find a new mechanic!

jlm11f's avatar

I actually did find a new mechanic, in case anyone is wondering. But not for the reasons listed above (or really anything to do w/ this Q)

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