Car Care:    Tips , Tricks and Maintenance

Choosing The Right Mechanic


Finding the right mechanic is the first step in preserving your car
(if you choose not to do the work yourself).

Word of mouth is one way to find a talented and honest mechanic. Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers who they trust and if they have been satisfied with the service and prices. Never say you've been referred to a new garage by a friend if you choose to utilize a place that was suggested to you. Some shops will take a referral as a sign of implied trust and boost the cost of repairs accordingly - this applies to body shops as well as just about any service shop.

If your car or truck is old and only needs to last you a short time before going to the big car crusher in the sky, ask others in the same situation where they take their cars. There are shops out there that will attempt to save you money by "jury rigging" a repair or using parts from an auto wrecker etc..  There is no doubt a place and time for these types of mechanics and shops.

For complex repairs or intermittent problems, it's often best to take your car to the place that knows your brand best - the dealership. It's fair to say that they're hourly rates will be higher than the generic shop down the road, but you need to consider all of the (time saving) equipment that they purchased specifically to service your type of car. Their mechanics are fully trained, certified and up to date on your particular vehicle.

When you take your car to the dealership in the early morning hours you should notice that there's a line-up of cars queuing up at the service check-in. A good dealership is always busy and it's in the dealership's best interest to simply repair what's wrong with your vehicle and move on to the next.

Often with complex repairs, the dealer's mechanics complete the repairs in record time compared to generic shops likely due to the diagnostic tools specifically made to diagnose your brand of vehicle and the parts availability on site. If they can get to the source of the problem faster, without repeat returns, then many people can justify the higher cost per hour.

Also consider that a poor repair department at a dealership will degrade the reputation of the whole dealership including the sales department and so there's more for them to lose if they aren't fair with you.

Note about dealership repairs: A bad service adviser can add a fortune in unnecessary repairs if you're not experienced. Pay close and special attention to how the service advisers treat their customers, including trying to sell unnecessary service items. If you feel something is amiss, don't hesitate to move on to the next dealership that sells your type of vehicle.


Have you considered becoming your own auto-mechanic?

If you own your car - you probably have more interest in your vehicle than anyone else. Learning how to perform the fundamentals will save you a bundle. If you take your time and do your research, the job can be done with a lot more TLC. With videos on you-tube, service manuals, library books and cutting-edge information on the net, there's no reason why you can't learn how to do simple maintenance. Such things as replacing a battery, a serpentine belt, changing your oil and filter, replacing your air filter, changing windshield wiper blades, replacing headlights and tail lights, checking the fluids etc. – are all very simple stuff once you know how.

If your car is new it will become quite apparent that all it actually calls for is simple maintenance for the first year(s). Checking out your owner's manual and buying a shop manual, as well as purchasing some basic (quality) tools will get you started on the path to building a closer relationship with your car or truck.

If you choose to be your own mechanic, go out of your way to learn every safety measure you can research for each job you plan to do. If you're jacking up the car for example - learn all the safety procedures and fail safe methods of doing so - before going out in the driveway. Buy the best tools and jacks and jack-stands and always inspect them before using them. You won't ever regret buying quality tools since they're safer to use, have a lifetime warranty and will last you forever (or last your neighbor forever, if you tend to loan tools out).

For major jobs you'll most likely prefer to find a mechanic to perform the work rather than doing it yourself, particularly if the proprietary tools and diagnostic machines are more expensive than the repair warrants.

Have a look in the mirror; you may be looking at the mechanic that could learn to know your car best and care about it more than any other mechanic ever could!


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