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Confessions of a Service Writer

Illustration for article titled Confessions of a Service Writer
Photo: Tb5Rats (Reddit)

1. We know how dirty you are.

If you care at all about how the tech working on your car will view you, it may be a good idea to clean your car before bringing it in. You may also want to find your wheel lock key and place it in an obvious space (Think cup holder or on the dash pad). If we can’t find that object in particular we’ll end up having to look for it. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear about the sex toys, illegal substances or sticky surfaces we’ve found in some of your cars. The ant infestation in one though, you didn’t expect that did you? Keep it clean.


2. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.

You know that one weird noise that your car makes? That pop or squeak or other feint unidentifiable sound you hear randomly. We know you hate it and we know that it’s frustrating but sometimes those noises are hard to find. There’s good news though, if a shop tells you they can’t find the culprit, there’s a good chance that they’re trustworthy. They don’t want to sell you something that may not fix the problem. That’s great but please realize while you may be frustrated at the noise for another few weeks, it just has to get a little worse before we can make it better.


3. Recommended service intervals are just that.

If you check your owners manual you’ll usually find a bevy of things that your car is going to need a certain mileage checkpoints. Not everything in there is necessary, they’re simply recommended. Many companies intermix the two categories. Cabin air filters and transmission services are drastically different priorities though so do your research as to what you actually need versus what you may just want to replace. Sometimes the small stuff can go longer if you need it to. Filters in particular are typically easy to remove, clean and replace. Pro tip on cabin filters… drip a couple drops of your favorite essential oil on it before installation. You’ll thank me later.


4. Light bulb replacement is more expensive than you think.

I wish this wasn’t a thing but let me tell you now that truthfully there are some headlight bulbs that take an hour to replace. Most of the really long ones are GM products. For instance the Buick Rendezvous calls for over 2 hours in some trim levels. All this is to say a couple things. When you replace one, just go ahead and replace the other, and don’t be so shocked. It’s not gouging, it’s a sad reality of the way some cars are made now.


5. That irreparable tire might be repairable.

So this one will be controversial. There is a designated area in which reputable shops will not attempt to repair a tire and that’s roughly within a thumbs length of the side of the tire. There’s a good reason for this. We use patch plugs for most repairs. The patch part needs as flat a surface as possible to have the best chance at sealing and going down the road like nothing happened. The thumbs length area is curved inside that tire and there’s a great chance that it may not hold. That would result in a much larger leak than you came in with so we won’t risk it. Really you don’t want to be halfway down the road and deal with that large leak and we don’t want you to either.


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