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How to talk to a mechanic

  • Carsguide
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    Next time you walk into a garage, do so with confidence.

How do you talk to the 'expert' when your car needs help?

Here is the lowdown to simplify the ever-confusing conversation with the local mechanic, so the next time you walk into a garage, you do so with confidence.

KNOW THE BASICS

Most people couldn't care less about the inner workings of their car, but a little book work goes a long way when dealing with a grease monkey. Think of it as a job interview, if you can pretend you know what you're talking about  it's almost as good as actually knowing.

TAKE CONTROL OF THE SITUATION

Once a mechanic has told you what's happened to your car and how he/she intends to fix it, consider the quote and ask advice before giving the go-ahead. Once they get their hands dirty there's no going back.

COST OF LABOUR

Always ask how long the job will take and establish the hourly rate up front.

SEEK A SECOND OPINION

You would be amazed at the price difference between one mechanic and the next often for no good reason. It's especially vital you shop around should your mechanic identify a host of unexpected problems when inspecting under the hood.

BEWARE THE UPSELL

You don't always want fries with your burger, similarly you don't always want an engine replacement with your oil filter change. Be wary of a mechanic who wants to up sell things like fuel injector additives (to make your fuel system cleaner); oil flush additives (to flush old oil out of the engine) and topping up the windscreen washer bottle with a branded washer fluid (often more expensive than water with a dash of mild detergent).

AUTHORISED DEALER

Sticking to the dealership that sold you the car can often be the best course of action, particularly if it's still under a warranty. Once out of the warranty period you can then shop around for a reputable mechanic.

CHECK THE INVOICE

Make sure the bill is itemised with a methodical break-down of the work done. This way you will avoid hidden costs.

CREDENTIALS

Mechanics should be certified so check the paperwork. If all they have on the wall is V8 calendars you can assume there's a better option elsewhere.

DON'T ASSUME HONESTY

If he/she tells you something's broken, ask them to show you. They don't need to know you're out of your depth.

AND FINALLY

Dealing with mechanics can be difficult, so once you find a good one - show them some love.

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