One of the necessary parts of owning a car is keeping up with maintenance. If you want your vehicle to run well for years to come, a maintenance plan will be a part of the equation.
Yet car repairs are something we all try to avoid. They can be expensive. They can mean downtime. And how do you ever find a mechanic you can trust?
We’ve all heard horror stories about bringing your car in for an oil change, only to be told the entire transmission needs to be replaced. What if this happens to you?
Start by finding a great mechanic
When you’re driving all over the city, you can find a variety of places to bring your car in for servicing:
- Specialty shops (oil changes, tire sales and maintenance, etc)
- Dealer servicing
- Chain retailers
- Individual mechanics
It’s not uncommon for drivers to use multiple places for all of their servicing needs. Often, they’ll pull into a business based on current conditions. It may work for a quick oil change, but it won’t help you form a relationship with a quality mechanic.
By returning to the same place every time your car needs servicing, you create a relationship with the staff. You can speak directly with the mechanic who will be fixing your vehicle. It also allows them to establish a baseline for your car’s performance.
Compare this with your general practitioner. They develop a relationship with you over time, tracking everything from medication usage to health problems. They can use deductive skills just by knowing you and having a file to refer back to.
By choosing to work with the same mechanic for each car repair, you can get to know the people better. You can start to understand their language. Which ultimately equates to better service.
How to improve your communication skills with your mechanic
Just like you’re an expert at whatever you do, a mechanic can have years of technical experience. They’ve trained as auto mechanics in school, and they learn new skills with every car they work on throughout the year.
They may have started out with a general interest in cars, but with years of training and on-the-job experience, many can be at the top of their profession. They aren’t hobbyists who love to tinker around on a car.
They have a deep understanding of components and systems, and will often get technical with their descriptions. If you don’t understand something, ask. Mechanics understand that drivers will come in with all sorts of descriptions. But they can’t read your mind. The more details you provide, the more aware they become of where the root cause might be.
Over time, you’ll become well-versed in how you speak about your vehicle. Instead of talking about a “noise under the hood,” you might be more aware it’s coming from the transmission. Yet leave the diagnosis to the mechanic. That’s their job. Often, what sounds like it’s coming from one area might truly be something entirely different.
It helps to take notes and write down your requests before you bring your vehicle in for car repairs. Saying something simple, like an oil change, won’t give a mechanic any reason to check out other areas of your car. If you hear a rattle when you drive, or you notice the brakes aren’t as responsive as they once were, bring this to their attention when you drop it off. It’s the only way they’ll look for the problem.
What’s more, if you have specific information that’s hard to relay, speak to the mechanic directly, and show him the problem. Car repairs can be difficult to decipher from a few notes taken by the salesperson running the front desk. “Check rattle near tire” may have made sense to the salesperson when you were describing it, but it may be difficult for the mechanic to replicate. If they hear the problem directly, they’ll have a better chance of fixing it.
Leaving your cost-savings tips at home
A recent study found that an overwhelming 92 percent of drivers admitted to avoiding mileage, noises, and smells longer than they should, which in turn caused them, on average, to spend around $1200 extra in car repair bills over the vehicle’s lifespan.
Ignoring is never an answer. Pushing servicing off is often a recipe for disaster.
Picture for a moment, a connection that has worked its way loose. Bringing it in the moment you detect the noise or feeling would require a mechanic to tighten the connection. Waiting means it continues to loosen, and maybe disconnects or falls off. That causes a chain reaction of problems, which can shut down an entire system.
That simple car repair is suddenly a whole lot bigger.
Google has become our best friend. We use it to diagnose every little question we have.
- “Why do my brakes squeal?”
- “What drips underneath the hood?”
- “Can I drive on a tire with low pressure?”
And Google always has an answer. But here’s the thing to remember: Google isn’t always right. You may find threads that lead you to believe you’ve uncovered the problem. But until a mechanic digs in and finds the root cause, you can’t be sure of the problem.
Your input is necessary to understand the situation. But to diagnose it and offer solutions won’t solve the problem.
Similarly, bringing in your own parts won’t be a solution. If a mechanic is in charge of fixing it, they have to be satisfied with the solution. That means getting parts they trust, and using them to repair the car.
And those coupons you get in the mail? They are difficult to compare. Repair stations often quote low prices on common problems to bring new customers in the door. Yes, they’ll give you the deal, but they’ll be looking for other problems. They’ll add more for labor costs. They’ll give you a “better” deal.
If you want reliable service, the best way to do that is to form a relationship with the person who will repair your car, repeatedly throughout its lifetime.
When was the last time you brought your car in for car repair?
Car repair is one of the most commonly avoided services. Yet avoiding routine maintenance items can cost you in the long run.
Develop a relationship with a mechanic in your community, and have a friend who will help you get the longest life from your vehicle.
How can we help you with your car repairs today?