I’ve been working on cars professionally for the better part of ten years and in that time I’ve encountered a whole host of interesting people and situations.Many of which would have gone easier for myself and my customers if they knew a few of the “secrets” I’m about to tell you.
Thanks to Steve Lehto, both for inspiration and letting me use his format. Please check out the article that inspired this one.
1)We [probably] didn’t break your car (I say probably because we all know that some mechanics’ abilities leave something to be desired and some are... unscrupulous. The difference is that good technicians will take responsibility for what they did). Don’t yell at us expecting us to fix it for free. Nor did we engineer whatever happened to break. Getting angry with your mechanic will not help your situation. We don’t expect that you not display emotion, even anger, just don’t direct it towards us. We have enough crap to deal with on a daily basis, and more often than not we genuinely want to help you.
2)We’re just as frustrated as you that some engineer who probably doesn’t even know what a wrench looks like decided it was a good idea to put your Audi’s timing setup on the back of the engine causing us to spend a week fixing your car thus charging you an exorbitant amount of money. We would much rather be able to finish the job in an hour or two. Many of us are also frustrated by the “flat-rate” pay system and would prefer either straight hourly or salary. Unfortunately, employers don’t like this idea even though it would drastically increase customer satisfaction and technician morale, not to mention decrease comebacks.
3)A good technician cannot diagnose or fix a difficult problem as easily as a simple one, and diagnostic fees/rates are not where the big money is. We would much rather do a 30k service than figure out why your vehicle is running rough and stalling once every three months at 12:02am but only while driving up this one hill at exactly 24mph. Those more difficult problems could cost you a lot of money, but we’re still losing money compared to what we would have made doing “normal” work. These things can take time, and unfortunately Snap-on hasn’t come out with a magic wand yet, nor does “the computer” just tell us exactly what is wrong most of the time.
4)Like most people, we can’t afford to work for free. There are a lot of costs associated with running a shop. And individual technicians have some costs of our own such as $20k+ in tools, insurance for those tools, education (for many of us), and worst of all is that most of us won’t be able to make anywhere near $30k/year until about 5 years in despite already racking up $30-50k in debt just to do this for a living. This is not a particularly lucrative career. Most of us will still go out of our way and sacrifice a bit of our paychecks to help people out if they really need it though.
5)I know it’s tempting, or sometimes even financially necessary, to work on your own car. But sometimes it’s in your best interest to at least consult a professional. That thermostat you just put in? Yeah, it’s backwards. Now you’ve overheated your engine and cracked the block, that’ll be $10k please. But hey, at least you saved $50 by replacing the thermostat yourself! I encourage you to learn about and work on your own vehicle, but if you’re not sure about something, at least consult a professional (this does not mean check the forums).
6)Oh, so your friend had the same thing happen with the cracked block but was able to fix it with a $15 bottle of “head gasket sealer”? That’s wonderful for him. But let me guess, he didn’t keep the car long after that did he? That’s because this is a temporary bandage at best, see item #5. Super cheap repairs and short cuts rarely work.
7) The forums are usually active with people who have no idea what they’re talking about and all advice must be taken with a grain of salt. Don’t come in telling us what part you want replaced, because if you were wrong then you’re out much more than you would have been by just bringing in the car to diagnose in the first place. We don’t warranty someone else’s parts or diagnosis.
8) Don’t omit embarrassing details from your story, they may be more relevant than you think. Yeah, we may laugh briefly about the details amongst ourselves, but we’ve done stupid things before and heard worse stories in the past. This is another thing that could cost you money because it wastes out time.
9) Some of us consider the term “mechanic” to be derogatory and prefer to be called technicians. The thinking here is that mechanics replace parts and technicians diagnose and actually repair things. So please be aware of this possibility and show your technician some respect, it will pay off for you trust me.
AMGtech doesn’t have a fancy about paragraph byline thingy because he is not a professional writer and quite frankly doesn’t think you would care anyways. He occasionally writes “articles” that receive little to no attention or are completely eaten by kinja.