Ford Australia has decided to simplify the ever-confusing conversation with the local mechanic, so the next time you walk into a garage – you can 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, once you find a good one – show them some love.
Learn the Lingo- A few terms to help you hold your own at the garage:
Carburettor: mixes oxygen with the fuel you put in your tank to create combustion
Radiator: A radiator keeps a car’s engine cool, preventing it from overheating and seizing
Oil filter: An oil filter removes all the contaminants from engine oil
Fuel-injection: Most modern cars use electronic fuel injection systems
Camber/Alignment: If your mechanic suggests a wheel alignment and camber adjustment this is important. If you’re steering feels ‘wobbly’ then have a mechanic check the alignment.
Wheel balance: It’s not a high-wire act. Again, if the steering feels ‘wobbly’ it could mean you’re wheels are out of balance.
Gasket: Used extensively in engines. They are usually sandwiched between metal components on the engine and bolted down.
Service record: Make sure your car’s service records are up to date. It’s important to know what’s been done.