Frequently Asked Questions

Does it make sense to repair my car or just buy a new one?

This is one of the most common questions we get from customers and we’ve spent quite a lot of time coming to one conclusion: the simple fact is, it is less expensive to maintain almost any car than to replace it with a new one when the vehicle reaches the point when maintenance is needed (usually about year 5). Whether purchased outright or financed, all new vehicles depreciate most in the first 5 years. So it makes the most sense to keep a new car for as long as you enjoy driving it.

That’s what makes your European vehicle so great: they’re built to last and to be enjoyed. When properly maintained, your vehicle will continue to perform well after 200,000 miles and put money back in your pocket the longer you keep it.

Should I buy a car that gets better gas mileage?

The simple answer at this time is no. Gas mileage in non-electric longer range vehicles is still well below the cost benefit. Here is some analysis we have compiled based on a 2008 BMW 528i driven 15,000 miles per year over the next 10 years. (20 mpg combined avg. at $4.00/gal).

Saving 5 mpg (25 mpg combined avg.) nets only $6,000 over 10 years, or only $600 per year. This would only put $50 into your pocket per month.

Saving 10 mpg (30 mpg combined avg.) nets $10,000 or $1,000 per year. It would take over 4 years of fuel savings just to recover the money paid on the sales taxes for the new car.

How often should I change my oil?

Although fully synthetic oils are much better and newer engines make less pollution than older ones, it is still wise to service your oil regularly. We suggest every 7,500 miles or 6 months. It is proven that regular trips to the mechanic will help to avoid a costly breakdown due to preventative maintenance. It also is known that having regular maintenance records greatly improves the resale value of your vehicle.

Does Spotlight Automotive provide loaner vehicles?

Although Spotlight does not own loaners for our customers, we do have a very good relationship with a local rental car company. The rental fee is around $30 per 24 hour period with unlimited mileage and usually only adds 20 minutes to the drop off time.

How long do repairs take?

Most repairs are completed the same day. Sometimes bigger repairs can take longer, but you will be notified in time to make arrangements.

How do I make an appointment?

Appointments can be made either by phone, in person or online.

Is Spotlight Automotive open Saturdays?

We understand some customers would like to have their vehicle serviced on Saturdays. Some thought went into the decision be open on a limited basis on Saturdays. First, parts are in limited supply on Saturdays, as most of the warehouses are closed and those that are open do not deliver on Saturday. Second, the dealer is open on Saturdays and requires technicians to work that day. Spotlight Automotive not requiring Saturday work is a great motivator to encourage high level techs to come work for us.(Really, who wants to work on Saturday?) Last, my son really likes spending time with me on weekends…and I want to keep it that way.

When will my car be ready?

In most cases, you will be told an estimated completion time when you drop off. If that time changes you will be contacted and informed of the revised time. There are some situations (such as diagnosis) in which a completion time is difficult to estimate. In these cases you will be informed as the repair progresses.

How much does diagnosis cost?

Diagnosis is one of the charges that is the hardest to estimate. Diagnosis requires the most skilled technician, the most expensive equipment and generally involves no parts sold as part of the diagnosis. Auto repair businesses must charge more per hour to diagnose problems due to amount of time certain technical issues take to figure out. We are no exception; however, we are realistic in what we charge. Often if the diagnosis is not difficult or the repair is expensive we will discount the diagnosis. In short, we didn’t write our business plan to try and make $100 to plug a computer to your car like some shops. If you have an easy issue or a common problem we don’t charge. If we need to spend several hours to be able to provide you with an estimate we will let you know that first. We can sleep at night knowing we provided the very best service at a great value.

Does Spotlight Automotive use original parts?

Yes, Spotlight does use original factory parts. The only exceptions are when we determine the aftermarket part exceeds original quality or warranty, or when the customer requests the use of aftermarket parts.

How much does an oil change cost?

We do “oil services.” Places like Jiffy Lube do “oil changes.” The cars we service have extended oil change intervals. This does not mean they need less maintenance. Without a thorough inspection by an actual technician performed frequently, you run the risk of a costly breakdown. The oil change techs at places like Jiffy Lube would not care or tell you if there was a problem with your brakes or suspension because they don’t do those types of repairs.

At Spotlight Automotive, besides replacing the engine oil and oil filter with original synthetic oil and OEM filter, the vehicle receives a complete inspection by a qualified technician. All the fluids are checked and/or topped off, and the tire pressures are checked and adjusted. The service interval reminder and tire pressure warning are reset, and any recommended repairs are estimated. Every vehicle oil service is slightly different; in most cases the prices range between $100 to $150. Specialty cars like M cars, and AMG cars or V10 or V12 cars are higher due to the price of oil.

What is your warranty?

Repairs performed by Spotlight Automotive have a 24 month/24K mile warranty on most repairs. This blows away the dealers warranty and any other shop we have ever heard off. We can offer this warranty because use only high quality parts and we take the time to make each repair properly so neither you or us will ever have to do it again. Maintenance services do not apply, such as oil services, filters, spark plugs, brakes, or other wear and tear items that a meant to be change routinely.

Do you have a shuttle?

Yes, we have a shuttle service to downtown or within a 3 mile radius Monday thru Friday for customers dropping off in the morning before 10am. Please let us know if you need a ride when making you appointment so we can get you checked in and off to work quickly.

Can my car be ready in one day?

Absolutely! Most repairs are completed the same day. If the repairs to your vehicle are expected to take longer, you will be notified.

Can Spotlight Automotive perform my CPO repairs?

Unfortunately, only dealerships can perform repairs to Certified Previously Owned warranty (CPO), recalls and original warranty repairs at this time.

How long have you been in business?

Spotlight Automotive was established in October of 2008 at our original location behind Tesla Motors on Grand Ave. We moved to 1474 W Hubbard to have more space to better accommodate our clients.

Can I bring my own parts?

We do allow customers to bring their own parts in however, in order to maintain our warranty; we must provide the associated parts for the repairs. When we provide the parts associated with most repairs or services, we stand behind them with an industry leading warranty.

Do you install tires?

We do not install tires due the amount of space required by the city of Chicago for tire storage and disposal. We can certainly give you a good recommendation for tires or send your vehicle out of tire replacement while it is in for service with us.

What does the SERVICE ENGINE SOON light mean?

The engines in today’s vehicles are largely electronically controlled. Sensors and actuators sense the operation of specific components (e.g., the oxygen sensor) and actuate others (e.g., the fuel injectors) to maintain optimal engine control. An on-board computer, known sometimes as a “powertrain control module” or an “engine control unit” controls all of these systems.

With proper software, the on-board computer is capable of monitoring all of the sensors and actuators to determine whether they are working as intended. It can detect a malfunction or deterioration of the various sensors and actuators, usually well before the driver becomes aware of the problem through a loss in vehicle performance or drivability. The sensors and actuators, along with the diagnostic software in the on-board computer, make up what is called “the OBD system.” When a problem occurs the “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” light illuminates. This is an indicator that’s it’s time to bring the vehicle in for a diagnostic. The repairs can be as simple as a loose or defective gas cap or something else. Spotlight will perform a thorough diagnosis and then provide a detailed estimate for the repairs before any repairs are made.

Why are repairs so expensive?

Vehicles are the sum of their parts, and European vehicles are no exception. Parts for these vehicles are expensive to purchase, as well as the specially designed tools and equipment needed to replace them. However, the repairs done at Spotlight are often times as much as half of the dealership prices, and even less in some cases.

Is my original warranty affected if I go to an independent shop?

The simple answer is no. Your vehicle’s warranty remains intact regardless of who services your car or where, unless it’s proven by the manufacturer the repairs or parts used caused a failure. In many cases we at Spotlight Automotive have helped customers save money by pointing out potential problems that were still covered under the original warranty.