Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep up with new models?

We read, we study, we discuss, and we have valued connections all around the world. We have over a million pages of documentation on CD-ROM and we subscribe to online repair information services such as Alldata. We belong to an international organization of independent Mercedes Benz and BMW repair shops, and we all submit our unusual problems and fixes via the Internet. We receive 10 or more emails a day that we archive. We also have the ability to put our tough problems out there for ideas. We use the Alldata information systems and ServiceCenter Management software for up to date Factory Service Bulletins. We also maintain our friendships with techs we worked with when we were each at the dealer who are available for phone support and even occasional evening diagnostic sessions. We combine this with comprehensive annual training seminars, trade journals and 50+ collective years of experience on Mercedes Benz, BMW, VW, Lexus and Acura so there isn’t much we can’t handle.

Why no Saturday hours?

The main reason we don’t have Saturday hours is that we want to maintain a quality of life for our family and employees. We are here working 50+ hours each week. We are very well trained professionals, and we work with our hands as well as our minds. In our opinion, if we were to push the envelope any further we would be risking quality for the sake of a few dollars. We work on very important safety systems including brakes and suspension. Our mistakes can do more than ruin somebody’s day: we could be placing someone’s safety at risk. We see many local dealers going to Saturday hours in the name of customer convenience. The reality is that they are using it as a profit center. An idle lift makes no money. They tell the employees that they had to start working nights and weekends to meet existing customer demand, and then increase their advertising to fill the shop with work. We have many good friends in this business who are unhappy with that situation and don’t want our people to be a part of that unhappy crowd. It is our belief that in the end that both our customers and employees are better served.

What special tools do you have?

We have more than $140,000 dollars invested in luxury car brand specific specialty tools, software and equipment including the same Factory DAS Laptop diagnostic system utilized at the MB dealership. We also own the very latest Snap On Tools State of the Art Scanners, Snap On Tire and Wheel Balancing Equipment and several other computerized diagnostic scanners. This commitment is wholly consistent with our assumption and commitment  that we are going to be around for a very long time to earn your continued trust and loyalty.

What if my car is still under new car warranty?

We can help. First, any maintenance work that we perform fully satisfies the factory warranty requirements. You are not required to go back to the dealer for anything that you have to pay for, and you are fully protected in this by Federal Law. We service many cars that are still under warranty using Factory approved procedures, products and fluids. In fact, we often find warranty items that owners were not even aware need attention. We send them back to the dealer with a laundry list of actions the owner is entitled to for free under the factory warranty. It is our opinion that most dealers do not really look for warranty problems because the wholesale rate that the car manufacturer reimburses them is so low that they would rather wait until the car is out of warranty and they can then charge full retail. We believe that this explains why so many cars seem to fall apart as soon as the warranty runs out. We can help make sure that doesn’t happen. 

What is our warranty?

We warranty all repairs for 6 months or 6,000 miles. In addition, many parts are warranted for one year or 12,000 miles. There are also longer and more specific warranties on items such as engines, transmissions, etc. The most important thing to know about our warranty is that we want to be fair to all of our customers and will always stand behind our work. Our business has thrived because of our commitment to our clients and we don’t intend to ever change.

Can I stop by with no appointment?

We are generally an appointment shop as it allows us to do our best work for you if we have the time set aside for your car. However we make every attempt to accommodate emergencies and always are available for quick repairs like light bulbs. We do encourage our customers to plan ahead whenever possible. We can usually schedule an appointment within 24 hours of your call.

Can I wait while you service my car?

We will always do our best to accommodate your needs for convenience, however we do discourage WAIT appointments for services. We prefer if we can have the additional time to perform your service to our high standards without feeling rushed while you wait, and without having to rush our other work we may have been in the middle of to accommodate a client who is waiting. For personal safety we also prefer to allow the vehicle a reasonable cooling off period before we begin working on the hot engine. When a WAIT appointment is unavoidable we will always do our best to keep your wait time to an absolute minimum while still maintaining our safety and high quality standards. For those unavoidable times we do offer a very comfortable waiting area and offer free wi-fi as well.

What is the earliest I can drop off my car?

We have a night drop envelope system that allows you to drop your car off at your convenience. Just write a brief description and phone number where we can reach you, place your keys in the envelope, sign it and drop it in the night drop mail slot in the rear garage door. We have a state of the art building alarm system and utilize a closed circuit camera system on our parking lot for added security after hours. We also offer convenient after hours pick up as well.

How many parts do you keep in stock?

We have a rather extensive inventory of Mercedes Benz, BMW, VW, Lexus and Acura parts. Conventional wisdom used by most service centers says that a shop should only stock the minimum and rely on “on-time” delivery. We think this is foolish and costly. In the real world of DC area traffic a delivery from a warehouse can easily take three or more hours. Meanwhile the car is sitting there waiting for completion. At our shop we not only stock the fast movers but have many of the little parts as well. Most dealers refuse to stock these items. We do this so that we can get the car finished and back to the customer promptly. While it is not unusual for a dealer to hold the car for three days, we return over 93% of our scheduled work on the same day. This allows us to free up our bays for production, makes for happier customers and ultimately results in substantial savings to the customer in time, money and aggravation.

Pre-Purchase Inspections

When you need to know the overall condition of any Mercedes Benz, BMW, VW, Lexus and Acura, we offer a comprehensive inspection performed at a very reasonable cost. This is an absolute must for pre-purchase decisions. We will help you assess the current condition and service needs which will allow you to make the most informed decisions. We also recommend an evaluation when you are deciding between keeping or selling your vehicle and always before making decisions on major repairs. It is our goal that owning your luxury car will be as cost effective as possible. You may want to consider an upgrade when appropriate, rather than putting an excess investment into your present car. However, if your current car is meeting your needs and you know the costs, we can keep you rolling for as long as you choose.

Aftermarket Warranties

Insurance companies created, and have been aggressively selling, a new product: the extended vehicle warranty. Like any other insurance item, the consumer cost is significantly more than the expected payout for claims. The purchaser should benefit with protection from very expensive, unpredictable repairs. The reality, in all too many cases, is found in the fine print. Most of the contracts we have helped our customers with have been less than satisfying. Many have been just plain lousy. We will go to bat for you, and get as much of the repair expense covered as possible. With the better plans, we are able to get most, but normally not all, of your claim reimbursed. Any difference is the responsibility of the customer. We will take the extra time needed to prepare and present detailed estimates based on thorough diagnostics. When, on occasion, an adjuster has been sent to verify needed repairs, we have passed inspection with flying colors and always have been granted full approval to complete the repair.

Diagnostic Time

We do not use diagnostic time as a profit center. We strive to keep diagnostic charges down to a minimum by utilizing the best diagnostic equipment and most up to date training available. We have seen many instances in which customers have been charged more for diagnostic time than to replace all of the possible components that are being tested.

Labor Combining

We offer labor discounts and combine labor when applicable. For example. If we are replacing a water pump or alternator and have to take the belts off anyway there would not be a second labor charge for the new belts. We do use labor guides to estimate jobs, but not for the actual billing. We tailor the labor times whenever there are overlapping jobs and discount accordingly. Seems like common sense, but we are amazed at how often this is not done.

Repair vs. Replace

If it is cost effective, we will attempt to repair an expensive component rather than replace it. We will recommend replacing an assembly if the money saved in labor reduces the price enough to make it in the customer’s best interest.

New Model's Extended Service Intervals Are Far Too Long (This is very important!) 

Mercedes Benz, BMW, VW, Lexus and Acura's historic longevity resulted from high quality materials and workmanship combined with comprehensive preventative maintenance. While there have been durability improvements in both cars and lubricants, we do not see the current 10,000 + mile service intervals as being in the best interest of the long term owner. The service recommendation now being made by Mercedes Benz, BMW, VW, Lexus and Acura appear to be driven by federal government mandates and the manufacturers marketing rather than engineering departments. The sales people wish to portray their product as needing almost no maintenance. As long as most of the new car owners buy another one before the poor care catches up with them, then profits are maximized. The current class action lawsuits due to insufficient service exemplifies how far they have pushed the limits. Our services are based on the same ones that made Mercedes Benz, BMW, VW, Lexus and Acura famous. They are designed to provide you maximum longevity and reliability. We recommend an un-scheduled A maintenance service between your regularly scheduled services, every 5,000 miles for 1998 and newer models using Mobil1 synthetic, for maximum vehicle life, fewer breakdowns and lower long term repair costs. Pre 1998 models use conventional engine oil and should be serviced every 3,000 miles. We do not cut corners or rush work out and all this is delivered for less money than the dealer's less thorough service attempt. One of the most frequent questions we get asked is in regards to recommended synthetic oil service intervals. "Should I be changing my oil more often?" and "Is it ok to stick to the factory recommended 10,000 to 13,000 intervals? The answer to both is yes. The question we have for you is: "What is your plan for ownership of the vehicle?" If you plan on owning the vehicle only up to 50,000 to 60,000 miles (and not sell to your friend/neighbor/family member) then stick to the factory recommendations and no one can fault you for that on resale or trade in. BUT... If you plan on ownership of 60,000 to 100,000 or more (much much more in many cases), we believe it is in your best interest to increase the frequency of your oil service intervals to 5,000 miles or every 6 months. These well designed German engines can last hundreds of thousands of miles with with very little oil internal oil use if more frequent oil change servicing is performed, and we can do a better job of preventing in between service breakdowns if we see the car more frequently. It is also extremely important to use superior quality OE filters and fluids during these service intervals.

Quick Lube?

Without exception, those customers who have fallen under the quick change "Save time / Save money" marketing spell have saved neither in the long run. Unfortunately, some still choose not to recognize the avoidable repair trips and unnecessary expenses incurred by having quasi "technicians" change their oil and sell them unneeded extras. Besides the alarming rash of inept mistakes that we see regularly, we also see many simple things overlooked or not recognized before failure. These items then become needless, costly breakdowns. We often find inferior quality filters and incorrect fluid viscosities used by these inexperienced techs working at budget oil change operations. Protect your investment and more importantly your safety on the roads by putting our extensive Mercedes Benz, BMW, VW, Lexus and Acura experience to work for you at every service.

"You Get What You Pay For"

This age old adage was good common sense, at least until the mid 1900s. It was understood that inexpensive (Cheap) things had less value than expensive (Quality) items. However, with the advent of plastics and K-Mart box stores, true value has become hard to recognize. Paying less became synonymous with higher value. The plastic imitation of Grandma's bureau cost much less and was therefore better. (You should compare them both now.) Both goods and services were cheapened behind polished veneers. A good example for us today is auto repair. True quality service is very expensive to provide and consequently should cost more. Sadly, we often see people paying top dollar for low quality work. Others believe they are getting a great job for a bargain price, only to be disappointed later. Nowadays you may not get what you pay for, or you may pay for what you do not get. Perhaps we should say: "You Don't Get what You Don't Pay For"


We Save Our Customers Money

The most important factor in keeping your repair costs down is our Business Plan. At new car dealers virtually everyone is on commission: the mechanic, the service writer, the managers, the parts people. This creates an environment in which it is not in anyone’s interest to keep your bill down. In fact it is exactly the opposite. This goes on because the dealers have a steady stream of customers supplied to them by their new and used car departments. There is no real need to keep the customers coming back. We on the other hand are paid only on salary and do not use "Flat Rate" for our final bills. We rely on our quality work, personal service and fair prices to keep our customers coming back. We do very little advertising so count on your positive experience to make you a vocal advocate for us, and this formula has been working very well for many years.