What Your Mechanic Isn’t Telling You1
A good car mechanic will mean your vehicle is properly serviced and is safe as you travel along at 100 km/hr, which is obviously something that’s very important. But poorly trained staff can mean skimped services or even unsafe cars.
If you know the right questions to ask you will not only be treated with more respect but the garage will know they can’t pull the wool over your eyes, so it’s important to know what you should be looking at when it comes to good car mechanics. And there are some things that a mechanic won’t tell you…
Car Mechanic Qualifications
Large garages that are main dealers for particular makes of cars must send their motor mechanics on training courses provided by the car company. The garage then puts the course completion certificates where customers can see them in the service reception area or customer waiting room. These qualifications prove that the people working on your car have the proper training in engine and transmission problem diagnosis and have passed tests of their knowledge and problem solving ability.
A back-street mechanic will not have taken courses specific to particular manufacturers. In fact they might not have even completed an apprenticeship, but it’s unlikely that any mechanic is going to tell you that he’s got no training. Even if you ask you are unlikely to get an honest answer, which is why you should think seriously about going to a large garage with trained staff members for any repairs to your vehicle. And keep an eye out for those training certificates hanging around a garage!
In addition, mechanics recommended by your insurance company also tend to be well qualified, since insurance companies quite strictly control which garages they use for certified insurance covered repairs.
The Only Way to Tell What’s Wrong is to Use Computer Software
Gone are the days when a good mechanic could lift up the bonnet and tell you what was wrong with your car just from its smell and sound. Computers that plug into car engine data ports are the only way to tell if a temperature, oxygen or any other sensor has failed. If you own a Toyota then the Toyota garage will have Toyota computer programmes to tell them what is wrong. Non-specialist car service workshops sometimes have a computer they can plug into any make of car, but these don’t come cheap, so low cost one-man workshops are unlikely to have them.
Mechanics won’t tell you that they won’t be able to connect a computer to your car, instead they will tell you that an expert doesn’t need a computer because he has 30 years of experience behind him. In some cases a mechanic may just take your car to another diagnostic centre and charge you extra for it. That means that it’s up to you to ask whether a mechanic has the appropriate computer software for your vehicle.
Not All Parts Are Equally Good
There are a lot of low-quality car parts out there that cost less than half that of top quality or original manufacturer parts. If you are paying much less than the going rate for a job then rest assured your mechanic is using cheap parts that are not up to doing the job properly or that will wear out in half the normal time. Nobody is going to tell you they are using sub-standard components, even if you ask. However, you can check the parts yourself, and in some cases a really good car mechanic will even let you bring your own parts (if you’ve got the technical expertise to find them).
What Oil the Mechanic is Really Using
Engine oil is engine oil isn’t it? Not any longer. Synthetic and semi-synthetic oils last longer and degrade more slowly at high engine temperatures, but they cost a lot more than regular oil. An unscrupulous motor mechanic can use ordinary engine oil and charge you for synthetic because you can’t tell the difference by looking at it. Even if you see a container that is marked as semi-synthetic oil it could just be cheap generic engine oil that has been poured into that container. The only way to be certain that you are getting what you are paying for is to use a large garage that is subject to inspection by a motor manufacturer or professional body, that way you’ll know that everything’s on the up and up.
Your Mechanic Doesn’t Know What’s Causing the Problem
Okay, this isn’t true all the time, but in some cases the repair a mechanic is doing might not fix the problem. Even with computer diagnosis it is sometimes difficult to pin a problem down to one cause and without one it is downright impossible. The guy working on your car will sometimes know that the problem might have three or four causes, so he will usually go with the cheapest or easiest to fix cause and if that doesn’t solve the problem he will go on to the next likely cause.
Mechanics will rarely admit that they are guessing as to the cause of your problem. One way around this is to ask for all the possible causes and to show that you understand the need to work by eliminating possible causes one at a time. This will at least show that you know what’s going on, though even the best mechanic might sometimes need to work by trial and error.
A Mechanic Can Have Good Days and Bad Days
Friday afternoon is never the best time to take your car into a garage. No mechanic is going to tell you he will do a shoddy job in his hurry to get away for the weekend, but that will often be the case. Similarly the day after a public holiday when alcohol has been flowing freely is a day to delay taking your car in for repairs if possible. You don’t want anyone with a hangover or who is possibly still half-drunk working on your car. This is true even in larger garages, though the more strictly controlled a garage is the less likely it is that shoddy work will be done.
The Head Gasket Change Trick
When your mechanic changes the head gasket on your car engine he always changes the oil and oil filter, but he won’t tell you this. Many people ask for their car to be serviced at the same time and end up paying again for the oil and filter change even though it was included in the head gasket job. You might want to keep this in mind if you happen to be getting a gasket change, so at least you can mark in your car manual that an oil change was also done if appropriate.
What Your Mechanic Won’t Tell You in Conclusion
An expert and reliable mechanic for your vehicle is just as important as a good vet for your horse or a good doctor for yourself. In an ideal world you would be told everything you need to know about your car service without asking, but in reality you do need to know what questions you need to ask. Now you know the essential questions you will get better service and be safer on the road. You might also want to check out our listings section, since customer reviews can let you know how reliable a mechanic is and how happy other clients have been with a service. Happy driving!
Main Subject: Mechanic