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The Importance of Educating Customers on Ride Control Maintenance

Autosphere » Mechanical » The Importance of Educating Customers on Ride Control Maintenance
KYB’s online training program for Service Professionals highlights how important shocks and struts are for vehicle safety. Photo KYB Marketing Department

Does this sound familiar? You have the suspicion that a customer’s shocks and struts need to be replaced, or you expect that an upgrade might be something they’d benefit from.

But they don’t want to hear it. They either only care about the price, or they don’t understand why shocks and struts are that important to begin with.

Situations like this are why it is imperative that your staff understands how to determine a vehicle’s current shock and strut wear level, and how to convey the need to replace them. Properly educating the customer about the importance of maintaining their vehicle’s original designed handling, control, and traction capabilities will help you establish trust and credibility with them.

As a service goal, it’s important to know your customer’s expectations for their vehicle. Ask your customer how many kilometres they expect their vehicle to last, rather than how long they are planning to keep the vehicle. Years ago, the life expectancy of a vehicle was roughly five years or 160,000 km. Today, many customers expect their vehicles to last 12 years or more and reach 350,000 to 400,000 km. There are currently nearly 27 million registered vehicles in Canada. Estimates say that up to 80% of them may have shocks and struts that are simply not capable of performing to their original designed vehicle handling and control capabilities.

Drivers today are obviously keeping their cars for much longer than they ever did before. Recommending shock and strut replacement as a regular maintenance item to help extend the life of a customer’s vehicle presents a huge business opportunity and service goal for repair shops.

Replacing worn shocks and struts is not only essential to maintaining the performance and handling of a vehicle, it can also reduce overall maintenance costs for the motorist and help increase the safety of the vehicle. Modern electronic safety systems rely on shocks, struts, tires, and brakes to maintain traction. A vehicle’s electronic safety systems are less capable of helping to avoid a crash if these components are not performing as designed. The excessive movement caused by worn shocks and struts can result in accelerated brake & tire wear, increased stopping distance and reduced traction. Properly performing ride control systems will ultimately save your customer time and money by lessening the wear to brakes and tires, thus reducing the need and cost of replacement.

When your customer lives with their vehicle’s ride and handling every day, they often fail to notice that handling and control capabilities have deteriorated. It happens gradually and often subconsciously, so people may not be aware that their vehicle’s performance is suffering. Their vehicle is not performing as originally designed and many people just assume their vehicle will never feel like it did when it was new.

So how do you properly identify worn shocks and struts? Well, a simple road test is the most effective way. Start by creating a test drive route near your shop. It should be a safe, repeatable route that you know well, and only has to be about a kilometre long. Ideally it will have a few turns, both smooth and rough pavement, a few potholes and a place to safely perform an emergency stop.

Throughout the drive, be aware of excessive noise, vibration, and harshness. Is your head bouncing around? Do the bumps and potholes feel especially harsh? Does the suspension bottom out? These are all signs of wear. Then, safely and quickly change lanes from a steady speed. Use the bottom of the A Pillar along with the ground to gauge body movement and recovery time. A large amount of roll with a slow recovery time again indicates wear. And finally, make an emergency stop. When in a safe area, hit the brakes hard. The vehicle should remain fairly level and you should feel the brakes on all four corners working. Perform a couple of stops at different speeds. If the nose of the vehicle dips severely or continues to move after the vehicle is stopped, then there is likely shock and strut wear.

Share the results of the test ride with your customer, letting them know if you recommend replacement of their shocks and struts to extend the life of their vehicle, or if their suspension components are working properly and do not yet need maintenance. These comments will, again, help you gain the trust and confidence of your customer and help establish your shop as the long-term repair and maintenance source for the customer.

But most importantly, it will help keep the customer and their family safe. By explaining the importance of maintaining a vehicle’s original designed handling, control, and traction, you’re going to establish trust and credibility with your customers. And in return, your shop’s sales and reputation will be all the better for it.

KYB offers training for this undersold maintenance category. Online and In-Person. Go to kyb.com/training for more information.


Sponsored content by KYB Americas Corp.

 

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