Questions for Your Car Mechanic

Automotive Digital Micrometer

DIY Car ProjectsLet’s talk about a list of valid questions for your car mechanic. When automotive consumers find themselves at a retail auto repair center things go down like this. The mechanic checks out your automobile and tells the service advisor what’s wrong with it. Then the shop creates an estimate of repair attaching parts and labor charges to the mechanic’s diagnosis.

The final step in the process becomes selling this estimate to the car owner. In this conversation it’s the goal of the service advisor to explain the necessary repairs and the associated charges in the form of a question. Skilled automotive service, sales people expect the customer to respond with a one-word answer. Yes, go ahead and do it. Believe it or not, a large percentage of the time this is exactly what happens.

However, educated consumers should ask multiple questions about the preparation of the auto repair estimate. The more questions you ask, the more confidence you can have in the shop’s diagnosis and charges to fix the automobile. In this article we’re going to take it one step further. Not only are we going to ask specific questions about the repairs we’ll also find out more about the person diagnosing the automobile. Review these questions for your mechanic and use them during the automotive service visit. You wouldn’t let a surgeon operate on your body without understanding that they have the right training, tools and equipment. Apply this same scrutiny to your car mechanic.

Experience Level of Your Car Mechanic

car batteryObviously, the importance of asking this question often hinges on the type of problem you’re trying to solve with your automobile. When seeking auto repairs that will extinguish the check engine light you want to verify your technician has experience in dealing with these types of problems. This calls into question how long they worked at this particular facility. And how long they worked as a professional automotive technician.

All mechanics have to start somewhere. These are often called journeyman. These apprentices rely on more experienced technicians around them to verify initial diagnosis. Shops can get busy and bypass these important steps. If the auto repair shop says the vehicle needs a [[mass airflow sensor]] ask them about the diagnostic steps used to come to this conclusion. More importantly, ask them if they guarantee the replacement of this particular mass airflow sensor guarantees the correction of the problem you seek resolution of.

Here’s the ultimate reason to understand the experience level of your car mechanic. Consumers have the right to expect excellent and reliable service when they pay top dollar for automotive repairs. They also have the right to ask questions about the person that performs this service. What we don’t want to pay for is the training of employees. It’s the job of the auto repair center to provide training to their technicians. When automobiles become misdiagnosed from of lack of experience, consumers wind up paying to teach a mechanic in training a lesson.

What Tools Does Your Car Mechanic Own

Magnetic Dial Indicator Set
Magnetic Dial Indicator Set

Professional mechanics invest a lot of money in their tool collection. With that said, some of these tools can actually save you money. Let me explain this point a little further. In many situations when diagnosing failed automotive parts, technicians use the amount of play or looseness to determine failure of that component. As an example, the technician says the driver side upper ball joint needs replacement. The consumer asks why and the mechanic states, “because there’s too much play in the ball and socket joint”.

Even experienced mechanics can find it difficult to perform precision measurements with just looking at the amount of movement in a ball joint. Therefore, these mechanics use a device called a dial indicator. This precision measuring tool mounts on the control arm. It measures the exact amount of free play in the ball joint. The vehicle manufacturer supplies free play specifications in the professional auto repair manual. To make a long story short, shaking a front end part and calling it bad, because of free play is kind of shady.

Automotive consumers should ask how they reached the determination for this failed component. They can also ask if the mechanic measured the amount of free play using a dial indicator. Any professional mechanic should have one of these their toolbox. Furthermore, consumers can ask for the measured free play amount and compare these themselves to the manufacturer’s specifications. If you don’t have an auto repair manual for your vehicle you can find these specifications with a little detective work.

Car Mechanics Own Precision Measuring Devices

Micrometer Measuring Set
Micrometer Measuring Set

I should say professional technicians own precision measuring devices. These tools remain important to consumers, because these measuring tools, save them money on replacement parts. Unfortunately, a complete mechanics tool set is an expensive investment built over time. Therefore, technicians can often put off the purchase of precision measuring devices. In fact, they often focus on tools that make their job easier and faster. Precision measuring tools can often slow things down as they take some time to set up.

They can also prove that a component doesn’t need replacing. Do you see where I’m going with this? Owning precision measuring tools can mean less money in the mechanics pocket. Therefore, a technician that owns a precision straight edge, a micrometer set and a dial indicator shows a commitment to customer satisfaction. This means they are willing to take the time and invest money in the tools to properly diagnose many auto repair scenarios.

With that said, let’s take a reality check. As a young technician I didn’t understand why I should invest in these tools until a shop foreman sat me down and explained why. Therefore, it’s really not fair to expect mechanics with only a few years in the business to have these measuring devices. Nevertheless, when you find an auto repair shop or a professional mechanic that owns these tools it’s a check mark in the win column for the consumer.