Car Noise Identifier

June 1, 2016
Advanced Auto Pro has a database of sounds for customers to use to help identify the noises they are hearing in their cars

The Solution: Noise description tool

The Inspiration: “Communication is always vital,” explains Rick Bilger, owner of Advanced Auto Pros. “I was a dealership tech for a few years and I knew that the biggest obstacle was communication from the customer to the service advisor to the tech and back.”

He had noticed that customers and technicians often had different opinions of what a description of a noise would sound like. For example, if someone describes a “bark,” one person may hear a chihuahua and another may hear a rottweiler. This confusion caused a lot of unnecessary back and forth between the customer and the technician when the customer was trying to describe the sound that the vehicle was making. Bilger knew there had to be an easier way for customers to explain the problem sound.

Bilger figured the problem could be solved with a database of recorded noises.

Originally, he wanted to create a database by recording actual noises with cars, but when he was surfing the Internet he found other shops that used general noises. Those noises are more familiar to customers, he thought, which would allow customers to easily click on a sound and identify it rather than listening to many different car noises.

What It Does: Customers can describe the noise as best they can through the written description in the contact sheet. Then they can log on to the website and open up the customer tools tab and scroll down to noises.

There are over 50 sounds that can be selected, including “whistling steam coming out of a tea pot” and “pinging pebbles rolling around in a tin can.” The customer can then choose the one that best fits and narrow it down for the technician by describing the pitch, tone and speed.

“Rather than having the customer check a box that says ‘CV axle is clicking,’ which is too technical, they can select a noise that they are familiar with and have heard before,” he says.

Through the noise description, the technicians have a better idea of where to start looking and what to test based on previous knowledge of what those sounds can mean.

How It’s Made: Bilger bought the rights to the sounds from and uploaded the files in .wav format to his shop’s website.

The Cost: The cost of owning the rights to the noises was $239.

The ROI: “To try and write down what a slamming screen door sounds like, rather than just checking the website, that’s time saved right there,” Bilger explains. “If a technician notices a sound and is able to share the sound with the customer who has also heard that sound, it’s going to be an easier sell.”

Bilger notes that the relatively small investment for his shop has saved time and made it easier to solve vehicle problems.

“To have the customer clearly able to identify what the car is doing, the technician is already halfway to figuring it out,” he says.