Can you specialize in everything?

October 4, 2016

Real auto repair specialists get manufacturer specific classroom training and use actual factory diagnostic and repair tools & information.


Hello folks. If you'll let me I'm back again to take the wheel for a minute or two.

I was surfing the world wide web last week and while perusing other auto repair shop web sites I noticed something. Many auto repair shops want you to believe they are uniquely qualified to service every vehicle sold in the United States. Certainly a big enough shop with half a dozen or more journyman technicians could potentially have someone well versed and trained to properly service and repair most cars sold in this country. However that level of time and money commitment is rare to non-existent. Almost as rare is the necessary investment in full function factory or factory capable diagnostic and repair tooling needed to do complete vehicle maintenance and repairs. Most shops are using common aftermarket scan tools on the market. Most are completely ignorant of important information and proper procedures that vehicle manufacturers intended for their customers cars.

Even as one specializing in a handful of manufacturers it is challenging to keep up with common issues, current procedures, and application of current diagnostic and information systems available. As a member of at least five specialty tech groups I can appreciate the money required just for those memberships. I also am aware of how incredibly few local shops are members or for that matter go to the local specialized training. We even travel to Houston every year for classes!

BMW & Mini Cooper require one type of scanner, some software, and two web sites. Mercedes Benz and Smart cars need a different scan tool, more software, and one more web site. Volvo requires another special tool, special software, and a really expensive website. Volkswagen & Audi require another scan tool, even more software, and two web sites. Lexus and Toyota are the easiest for us regarding information and diagnosis. Their web site is reasonable and scan tool requirement is fairly inexpensive. We even had to get extra $$$ in insurance, some background checks and special licensing through NASTF in order to purchase theft related parts and programming from the dealerships.

Krause's Automotive has made and continues to make the investment to be worthy of your luxury car. We certainly aren't perfect but we put our money where our mouth is. We do this to keep your fine automobile up to the standard you bought it for. We believe that you don't want average service for your above average vehicle. That's why Krause's Automotive is capable, and provides daily, the best possible service and repairs for you. Even if you weren't aware of it, we give you far more than just enough to get by.

Thanks for listening, I'll give you back the wheel again now. Be safe until next time...

Information, Reviews and Reality

August 8, 2016

Finding the right shop might require some phone calls and online pictures & reviews can be different than reality.


Hi there fellow internet searchers. Allow me to take the wheel again for a minute while I whine just a little bit.

I have been busy since the tornado disaster working toward getting business back to "normal" again. This includes a rebuild of our web site, making phone calls, sending out post cards, using social media, and sending emails to new and existing clients. I have been reevaluating and learning how to advertise and market with the demise of yellow pages and rise of internet searching. Wow! What a tangled web we've weaved. It used to be that if you did good work, had fair prices, were clean, was pleasant and helpful, and had good warranties then word of mouth along with some yellow page ads assured you of enough business. Things seem to have changed somewhat. While an online "community" with its opinions and information sounds good, its connection to reality can vary.

I have come to realize that my previous position toward online reviews has hurt us. I always resisted aggressive demands for reviews and took a 100% organic approach to them. Now I see several Johnny Come Lately shops with amazing numbers of reviews and incredible 5 Star ratings with almost no complaints dominating search engines. If it appears that I am skeptical because of my sarcasm you are indeed reading me correctly. I have been in the auto repair business since I was 17 years old. No matter how perfectly one executes an auto repair business there is no way to bat 100%. How happy am I going to be when the car has broken and expensive things I previously never knew existed are inconveniencing me and draining my bank account? Some folks are almost too reasonable and others completely unreasonable. Web site advertising shows staged pictures that are like someones wedding day where everyone has dressed up in their best duds and is on their best behavior. That may or may not represent the actual day to day appearance and behavior. This applies equally to me and everyone else!

Shops that have the most training, best diagnostic and repair equipment, and the most quality information resources typically get referred the most difficult and expensive types of diagnostics and repairs. It stands to reason that those services are fraught with difficulty and the potential for problems and misunderstanding are greatest. Also the more expensive repairs are, the more unrealistic expectations ensue. We in the auto repair industry joke all the time about the "ever since ya did _____ now it does _____"  scenario that plays out all the time.

Am I saying online reviews are useless? NO! They can be a decent starting point to narrow down a search somewhat. Realize that while companies hosting reviews seem to try to make their reviews reliable they have been and are being manipulated by sellers to gain buyers all the time. I also recommend calling and talking to friends and neighbors, parts stores, and the potential repair shops themselves to get real world input for your shop selection. While Twitter size soundbites make for mildly entertaining reading they are hardly sufficient for large, complex, expensive, services with many moving parts (so to speak).

Also, before I give the wheel back to you, I ask that you ponder carefully before you post a negative review of a business. Consider the number of people effected and the livelihoods represented before throwing out careless words that aren't easily retracted. People have bad days. People make mistakes. People generally try to do the right thing. Perhaps consider establishing a track record with a business before giving an honest review. Try communicating with employees and/or management about your satisfaction not just your unhappiness. My Dad always told me "It's the squeaky wheel that gets greased". I wish that more folks would let us know how good we did as well as would let us know if things didn't go as planned. I try to practice what my mother taught me "If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything". Unless something is a gross misrepresentation, theft, etc.. I try to give folks the benefit of the doubt remembering that not patronizing a business applies a financial penalty.

So, if you are a regular client of a small business, please get out there and give honest reviews. Big businesses are better able to manipulate the system to their advantage so us little guys really need your help to keep up. Smaller family owned companies like us are better able to respond to you quickly and efficiently also! With that I will step out of the drivers seat and let you take over again for awhile. Thanks for your time and safe journeys to you.


To Buy or Repair? That is the question...

May 3, 2016

That is expensive maybe I'll just buy a new one.


Over the years we've heard it time and again; "That is too much money to spend on this old car, I'll just trade it in and get a new one." When a car that sells for $5,000 needs $3,500 in repairs or for that matter a $3,500 car needs $5,000 in repairs it is certainly worthy of consideration whether to fix it or sell it. Let me take the wheel here and hopefully I can steer you toward some perspectives to consider in the decision making process.

The first thing to consider is: What is the overall condition of the vehicle? How is the body and the paint? How is the interior holding up? Are the seat covers getting thread bare, rips, stains, goo from the kiddos that cannot be completely removed, getting faded? Is the headliner and carpet still nice? What is the overall mechanical condition of the vehicle? If it has been serviced somewhere other than Krause's Automotive it might make sense to pay for a used car buyers check to avoid putting a a bunch of money in one repair only to find out that there is an equal or greater amount of repair costs still needed! Krause's Automotive gives your vehicles a throrough inspection to keep you apprised of any up coming maintenance and repairs.

The next thing to consider is: What do I use this vehicle for? Is it just used for an airport car or commuter to work & back? Can we hand it down to one of our children who are now driving? Is it used for business and if so will it reflect favorably on our company? Can the vehicle costs be part of the cost of doing business as a legitimate business expense? Is the reliability of the vehicle hyper-critical? Would the car suit my purposes for local use if I chose to rent a car for long road trips & vacations?

Another consideration is whether you own the car outright or if there is a loan against it? If money is owed on it then it is important to know how much and how the debt compares to the value of the car.

The important thing financially isn't what we can sell the car for but rather how much will it cost me to replace the car. The replacement will need to be as good or better than the repaired car. So for example; if I own the car out right and it costs $5000 to fix it and replacing it with a slightly newer better car will cost me $20,000 does it make sense to drop the extra $15,000? Sometimes if you are seriously upside down on the car loan and the car needs expensive repairs it might make sense to take a loss and get into a more economical vehicle that is in better condition. More times than I can count I've watched people solve $3,000 problems by going into debt $10-30k ignoring the big picture and just considering the monthly payment! Of course if you are rolling in money with nowhere to spend it all then by all means just buy new cars and trade them every 2 or 3 years! Then you always get to drive the newest coolest models! What ever you do you can do better when you make an informed decision.

Remember that there isn't a one size fits all solution for every situation so we just have to get all the information we can and then do what seems to makes sense for our own personal situation. Krause's Automotive will always be here to help you sort it all out to your advantage and with us servicing your car on an ongoing basis we can help make the process quicker and more cost effective. With that I'l turn the wheel back over to you...Happy driving!

Hmmmm....Should I pull over?

October 2, 2015

The dreaded "__fill in the blank__" light has popped on. The question is "Now what?" Has some kind of count down started that will end with the annihilation of my bank account? Is my vehicle going to burst into flames like in the movies? Could this warning be any less ambiguous? How many acronyms can I take in one day? I am late, talking on the phone, eating my breakfast, drinking coffee, listening to the radio and dodging traffic, this is the last piece of sensory overload that will put me over the edge!


It might have been a good idea to have scanned through the owners manual to get an idea what all those crazy lights mean when I bought the car. YEA RIGHT! Like anyone is really going to do that. So now might be a good time to pull that nap inducing literature out of the glovebox or trunk and look up the offending light to see what it might mean.

Let me give you some hints if that is more effort than you can fit into your already overloaded brain pan.

If the warning light is RED stop as soon as it is safe to do so, turn off the engine and find out what it means. Auto manufacturers typically only make a warning red if it is critical to safe operation or to protect against major (expensive) damage.

If the warning light is YELLOW you can normally continue driving to your next stop before decifering its hidden meaning. Monitor your instrument cluster more closely though in case it precedes the red warning.

Engine oil and temperature warnings in red mean: If you don't shut me off immediately I will inconvenience you for weeks and max out your credit cards.

SRS lights don't mean that your air bags are going to deploy.

Yellow ABS, DSC, ASC or other traction systems warnings do not indicate brake failure. A red brake warning could mean that stopping when you want may become optional.

You could call us also and we will try to look it up and see what your options might be.

All things taken into consideration it is nice that our cars warn us when something isn't working right. Why can't our doctors come up with some thing like that? hmmmmm....

Thanks again for letting me take the wheel for a moment,

– Robert