Today we had a 2000 Subaru, come into the shop with leaking head gaskets. The customer was aware of this issue several months ago, while in the shop for other repairs. Against recommendations and due to the overall expense the customer decided to put off the repair. This type of repair typically will take several days, depending several factors such as the machine shops turn around, parts availability, and the shops varying work load.
When the customer dropped the car off, they commented they were planning on taking the car on a trip for the holiday weekend. After consulting the machine shop and looking at our time frames, I called the customer to discuss that the car may or may not be done by the weekend deadline. They were understanding of the issue and said go ahead with the repairs and if it is not done we will make other arrangements. When a customer is understanding and willing to work with use to resolve an issue it is much appreciated.
Often times, customers will come into the shop with un realistic expectations. In the case of the Subaru it is not typically un-realistic to have the repair completed in the time frame. However I never would suggest taking a vehicle on a long distance trip after major repairs are made. I highly recommend local driving to give the car a "shake down" so there is an opportunity for an issue to surface before being stuck out of town.
One example of an un-realistic expectation was when a customer asked if we could change their oil with the car running due to an issue with the security system. Another is when a customer refuses to leave a vehicle over night as they may have means of transportation. I recommend to anyone having their car serviced and in need of a vehicle to ask your shop if they have any deals with rental companies. Many times rental companies will offer repair shops discounts for their customers.
The less stressful you can make a repair for your mechanic the better chance of a timely and proper repair. Communication is key, discuss your concerns, expectations, and work with the shops goals and time frames as well. Find other means of transportation while the vehicle is in for repair, after all it's not the shops responsibility or fault your car is in for repair (unless it's a comeback).