When you find a good car mechanic, you want to maintain that relationship for as long as possible. The best at their job will keep your vehicle on the road for reasonable prices, making your daily commute, and overall quality of life, better. Without the right crew helping you with regular maintenance and repairs, you might even get a vehicle to 300,000 miles.
For a solid customer-mechanic relationship, remember it’s a two-way street. Treating the staff at a repair shop with respect in every aspect of the transaction is essential. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t hurt to show that you care about your car too. If you act like a jerk or treat a vehicle like something disposable when you go to the shop, you could end up with your mechanic judging you. Here are 10 things you want to avoid.
1. Never changing the car’s oil
When you bring in a car and your mechanic sees piston wear and dinged steel parts, he’s going to ask if you changed the oil recently. Failing to change your oil every 5,000 miles or so means poor lubrication, parts corrosion, overheating, and other symptoms of decay. Were it some obscure bit of maintenance, your mechanic might give you a pass. If it’s something known to be essential for cars, he probably will judge you, and you can’t blame him.
2. Always expecting to be first in line
Mechanics have an idea how they’re going to work over the course of the day, so don’t expect to just jump the line and get your repair done first. Someone with a more pressing problem (or someone ahead of you) might come first. That’s the natural order of things, and if you try to change that you might get the gang at the garage angry. Wait your turn like a good citizen and chances are your mechanic will be happy the next time you come in. No one likes a problem customer.
3. Botched DIY jobs
Just because you took a six-week night class doesn’t make you ready to start working on the old Dodge. Maybe you can handle tinkering with small fixes or changing the oil, but getting involved with the engine or brake system gets tricky. If you tried and failed to pull off a repair your mechanic could handle easily, you’re going to be embarrassed (not to mentioned judged). Imagine how it will feel having your car towed to the garage after rendering it undriveable.
4. A dirty car interior
If you invite someone to your house, you will probably straighten things up so it looks presentable. Most people take the same approach to their car. Taking it to the shop with a bunch of garbage inside will probably raise a few eyebrows. In some cases, mechanics might take it as a lack of respect for their work, especially if they need to fix something inside the vehicle. Otherwise, they might just think of you as a bit of a slob.
5. Zero insight on car’s problem
Did your car begin having the problem after a road accident? Does it happen in every gear? Are there any other observations you have? This information will help a mechanic diagnose a problem and could speed up the process of solving the issue. Before you go into a repair shop, take note of when the problem occurs, how it affects performance, and other details — whether or not they seem important. When you have nothing to offer, a mechanic might think you don’t give a damn about the process.
6. Terrible smells
In a post covering what they hated about customers, the gang from NPR’s “Car Talk” called out folks who don’t realize how bad their car smells. Whether you’ve got a rowdy dog or kids in diapers traveling with you every day, the odors they create could turn a mechanic’s stomach. Take the same approach you ought to take with garbage: Before going in for a repair, clean up the car the best you can. If you vehicle reeks, people are going to associate that smell with you.
7. Using mechanics for a second opinion
The crew at “Car Talk” took serious offense to customers who used their repair shop as a second opinion before going elsewhere. For starters, it takes a mechanic time and considerable effort to find out what it would take to fix your vehicle. (That’s why many shops charge for estimates.) If you are coming in just to confirm a price — or try to save a few bucks after getting a diagnostic check — be prepared for the staff at a repair shop to embarrass you. Respect cuts both ways, and you don’t show any by abusing someone’s time.
8. Coming back early
“You can pick it up at the end of the day” means what it says: Head over before closing time. Stopping by to check on things right after lunch will make you look bad. Unless they say there’s a chance it will get done early, take a mechanic at his word and give him the full time to finish the job. No one likes someone who comes looking for work ahead of deadlines. Do it in your garage and you’ll get the same reaction.
9. A filthy exterior
If you read about cars that reached 1 million miles, you won’t find owners who neglected their vehicles. Most washed and waxed their cars on a regular basis in addition to standard mechanical maintenance. These simple steps prevent dirt from seeping into the paint and causing corrosion. Eventually, a car with a rusted body becomes unsafe to drive. With all this in mind, mechanics probably can’t help but judge someone who rarely washes their car. You’ll look like you don’t care.
10. Offering repair advice
Imagine someone coming into your workplace and offering you advice on how to do your job with little relevant experience. You might laugh at them or even get offended for assuming you might need their help. The same applies to mechanics plying their trade in a repair shop. Unless you have a great deal of experience fixing cars, you should probably stay silent on the matter. Your trusted mechanic knows better, and he’ll probably judge you for trying to meddle in his work.
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