Every vehicle owner has to eventually struggle with going to the mechanic and paying for repairs. In fact, Consumer Reports estimates that over five years 4% of the total cost of your vehicle will be spent on repairs and maintenance. So before you go into a shop, it is important to be aware of what the mechanic you are about to talk to wants you to know. Smyth Automotive of Cincinnati, Ohio has come up with some information that you might want to look over before your next trip to the mechanic.
Watch out for gimmicks:
Coolant flushes and power steering flushes are really common ploys for quick lubes and big box shops. Always be sure to check your owner’s manual, not only for flushes but for anything that any mechanic suggests to you. Many cars are designed to go 10,000 miles without a fluid change, plus there are additives on the market, available at Smyth Automotive, that do a great job.
Make sure your mechanic is licensed:
Be sure that a shop that you use displays an ASE or AAA certification…. Good mechanics and shops will proudly display reviews and references. If they are honest and do good work, their reputation will be good, so always ask around and look at reviews before committing to any shop.
It is always important to ask questions that validate their work and business. For instance, recommendations, years in business, warranties offered, licenses, parts used and cost of repair.
Be sure that they have up to date equipment:
If your vehicle is having engine trouble, it is almost mandatory that you should go to a shop with a good engine analyzer and scan tool, some old school shops might not invest in this “fancy” equipment, these are not the best for in-depth, expensive jobs like engine rebuilds and repairs.
Use synthetic motor oil is the best bet:
Synthetic motor oils might cost you more, but they are going to get you a lot more miles between oil changes. We suggest to tell the technician or attendant that you want synthetic motor oil, if they argue, look for legitimate reasons why your specific car might not need it and make sure you do some research before you go ahead with their suggestion.
Check engine light:
When your check engine light come on, it’s not always necessarily a mandatory repair. You do not need to have costly repairs every time that you have your check engine light turns on. In some cases, the system detects a failure, but it is not going to cause you any problems to keep operating your vehicle. Do some research into the necessity of the repair and go from there.
Supply your own parts:
Often mechanics prefer to buy the parts for your vehicle themselves, usually through a trusted source like Smyth Automotive, but the truth is, any part that they can get for your car, you can get, often for cheaper than the mechanic will charge you for. Ask your mechanic to see if they will install the parts that you supply— the only catch is that they might not provide a warranty for the work if the part was defective.
Develop a relationship:
The more of a relationship you develop with your mechanic, the less likely you are to get ripped off. Much like many relationships, if you are nice and friendly to them, they will work harder to please you.
Think about the problem that you are having… how might it be broken, what are the signs that it is broken, what am I hearing/feeling and where do I hear/feel it? These are good starting points to providing your mechanic with information on your problem. Even if you don’t know the correct terminology, just explaining what you hear or feel or see can help a mechanic give a rough diagnosis of your problem. This also narrows it down to a single problem instead of having to explore multiple possibilities, which will cost you more in labor in the end.
Do not get too involved:
No matter how honest of a mechanic they are, most do not enjoy customers hovering over them while they work. The added pressure of a customer being too involved can cause somewhat of stage fright that does not make the job any easier. So if you want to watch them work on your vehicle, it is important that you ask for their permission first.
Keep your cool:Many vehicle owners receive their bill and see unexpected charges or repairs that they did not anticipate paying for. Instead of losing your cool and making a big deal, kill them with kindness, because you are more likely to have them nicely explain and maybe change your bill if you are nice and understanding.
Don’t blame the mechanic:
A lot of mechanical problems in vehicles are followed by or linked to more problems that customers are often not aware of until they go back to everyday life and there are new noises that may not have been addressed while solving the original problem. Before blaming anyone, go back to the shop and see if the mechanic noticed anything else wrong with your car and ask why these new problems are occurring. If they did notice the noise in the first place, they most likely did not see the need to fix it, which they will be happy to explain to you.
Be honest about comparing prices:
All mechanics expect customers to shop around for prices, but they also expect for you to be honest about it. If you are planning on comparing their estimate to another, let them know. This way they can give you the most competitive prices that they can. If you let them know information that other shops have given them, you might be surprised that they will agree to price match or an honest mechanic will give you the advice to move on to the next shop if they cannot give you what you need.
If you are looking for a trusted, certified mechanic near you it is always important to ask around and do some research. Vehicle maintenance research saves people thousands of dollars on repairs every year. April is Car Care Awareness month, so be sure that you take some time to care for your car and get it ready for the hot summer months ahead. If you’re in Cincinnati, Columbus or Northern Kentucky, come visit a Smyth Automotive and our helpful staff with give you mechanic suggestions as well as advice for getting your car summer ready.