As an car enthusiast I love making my Car DIY posts for all you people who want to be more involved with and knowledgeable about cars- but I realise at some point you'll probably need expert help.
The problem is, a lot of people appear to (quite unfairly!) distrust mechanics. Though I'll admit the car industry is not without its issues, from my experience mechanics running their own small businesses are honest, skilled and hardworking people who obviously have a great passion for their craft (of course they need to be, or their customers wouldn't be coming back!)
So with this in mind, here are three things from the most honest mechanic I know, my partner Matt, that he wishes more people understood about their cars.
1) Not all Services are Made Equal
Cars need servicing either every year or every certain amount of miles- whichever comes first. Most modern cars will let you know with a little symbol on the dash when they're due to be serviced.
However, garages can vary wildly in what they actually mean by a 'service'.
For some garages that means your car will get an oil change and "inspection" of the brakes (which might not even involve taking a wheel off) while for other garages (like ours) a service will include a full strip down and clean up of the brakes, even if they're not being replaced.
Uncertainty like this can lead to conflict.
For example, if an issue arises with your car soon after it leaves the garage which you've assumed was looked at and included in the cost of the service you're not going to be very happy.
To avoid this Matt's customers receive an invoice detailing all the work he's undertaken as well as any advisories to look at in the future.
Takeaway Tip: When you next get a service find out exactly what's been done to your car and, more importantly, what hasn't.
2) A Small Problem Unsolved Will Often Lead to a much Bigger, more Expensive Problem
Regular maintenance will make or break a car. But often people won't take their cars to garages over a small issue because they're terrified of being overcharged. This inevitably leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy because by the time the issue's become bad enough to visit the garage a big bill is exactly what you're going to end up with.
For example, a small water leak might not take much to fix, but if that issue goes unsolved it could lead to overheating causing head gasket failure which is very expensive to sort out (especially on moderner vehicles).
And again, just because you regularly get your car serviced it doesn't necessarily mean every issue with your car has been taken care of. Mechanics are not mind readers and if you've noticed a problem- like strange knocking noises or being down on power- you need to mention this so it can be taken care of.
Matt always explains what an issue is and gives a quote to his customers before carrying out any work on their vehicle, so they've always got the option to have the work done or not.
Takeaway Tip: If you notice an issue with your car, however small it seems, don't delay in taking it to a garage. If you do feel like you're being misled about how serious an issue is you're within your rights to take the car elsewhere for a second opinion.
3) Any Car, Even A New One, Can Cost You Money at Some Point
Some people are fanatical about buying a new car every five years or when the mileage is getting to a certain point and Matt's often quizzed about whether or not to get rid of a car with high mileage.
Owning a lot of classic cars we're probably very biased- but, as Matt tells customers, any car can develop a fault at any age and owning a new car is not a guarantee that it will never cost you money.
If anything moderner cars with advanced electrical systems have more things to go wrong on them (and will cost a lot more to sort out when they do). If you take nothing else away from this article just remember that regular maintenance is the only way to keep your car on top form.
Takeaway Tip: People are often persuaded to spend a lot of money buying a car expecting to never have to spend any money again- but a car can develop a fault at any age. The money that you lose in devaluation on a new car the second you drive it out of the dealership could easily be put towards maintenance on an older car.
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