The United States alone, roughly 750,000 auto mechanics worklong hours diagnosing, fixing and preventing carissues. But due to stereotypedportrayals in mediaand a complicated vocabulary of car parts, driverscan sometimes feel like their lack of understanding mayallow technicians to make use of their expertise. That’s not the case the mechanics claim. They’rein the business of helping. For a better understanding of what their roleinvolves, mental_floss spoke to a number of mechanics inmobile mechanic Raleigh North Carolinaboth independent repair shops and dealerships. Here’s a lookat what happens afterthe car is parked.
1. THEY WISH YOU’D STOP WIPING BOOGERS ON YOUR SEAT.
A car can often resembleyour living space in a mobile,decorated with decorative accessories music, as well as dried snot. Charles the mechanic, who is employed at a Volkswagen dealership and runsThe HonestMechanical blog, haswitnessed his fair share of nose gold when working on vehicles. “People seem to like picking their nose and wiping it on the seat,” heclaims. To ensure that the work is done properly, techs would prefer you bring your car in withoutbodily fluids , or any other waste inside. “Sometimes there’s a pile ofdirty clothes on the spare, or fast-food wrappers lying on the floor, which we request customers to take off. Most cars are clean, but individualsaren’t always clean.”
2. THERE’S A SPECIAL BOOK THAT TELLS THEM WHAT TO CHARGE–EVEN IF IT’S TOO MUCH.
Have you ever left feeling that you’ve overpaid for repairsmobile mechanic Philadelphia PAIt’s possiblebut not the sole fault of the shop. Most every mechanic workingon a flat price (as in contrast to a per-hourcost) is referring to an industry trade manual which estimateshow longa typical repair should take. If you’ve spent, say $200 for a 2-hourtask that a skilled mechanic can get donein 30 minutes, then you’renonetheless charged per the manual–andyou won’t receive a refund.
The auto industry mighthave a role to play in the blame. “The way it becomes unfair is when a mechanic buys a new specialty tool that may cost $300 but that pays for itself quickly,” says Ryan an ex-mechanic in Colorado. “It means they can do the job in less time, but the customer still pays for full time.”
3. THEY CAN FIND MICE AND SQUIRRELS STUCK IN YOUR AXLES.
Depending on the part of the country you reside in, a car’s warm underbelly can be attractive to rodents and other animals. Charles is familiar with acorns squashedinto hoods, and hasremoved a squirrel from the grill’s front. “The biggest thing we see [in North Carolina] is chewed wires from mice,” Charlesdeclares. “They’ll build a den inan airbox. Also, I’ve had to scrubthe guts of deer.” Should you beplanning to be storing your car for an extendedperiod, Charles advises that some typeof rodent deterrent spray mighthelp.
4. THEY MIGHT RUN SOME ERRANDS IN YOUR CAR.
While few mechanics actuallygo out on joyrides, the fact thatthey don’t get paid for the time needed to test drive one meansyour spotless new Honda may develop astain of ketchup in the driver’s seat. “Basically, every vehicle needs to be driven to make sure the problem is resolved,” Ryan declares. “If you’re headed out to lunch and you need to confirm that, it makes sense to drive it down the road.”
5. THEY MIGHT RESCUE YOU IN A ROADSIDE EMERGENCY.
However, while their individual moralityis different, many mechanics believe they areduty-bound to pull over when they see a driver who is stranded. “I do a lot of highway driving in the winter and the rule of thumb is if you see someone stranded on the highway, you stop and check on them,” says Ryan M., a mechanic in Winnipeg. “I’ve also pulled lots of vehicles out of ditches and off curbs.”
6. DEALERSHIPS HAVE ACCESS TO RESOURCES THAT PRIVATELY-OWNED SHOPS DON’T.
If you’ve ever thought about whetheryou should take your out-of-warranty vehicle in for repairat a less expensive, locally owned shop rather than a dealer-brandedshingle, here’s a point to keep in mind: Many of those smaller businesses can’t afford to pay for the kind of information provided by car makers to helpidentify and treatthe issue. “We’re able to go deep into the Volkswagen brand,” Charles says. “There are plenty ofresources available to uswhich an independent locationwould not. We have access to the vehicle’s engineers whenyou require. The name is an all-alliance. Small-scale shops won’t be able to pay $15,000 every year[for that data] to concentrate on one particular type of car. Once they’ve surpassed their range of expertise, it’s more sense to visitan dealer.”
7. YOU’RE TECHNICALLY NOT ALLOWED IN THE GARAGE. EVER.
You’ve likely heard ofmaking a mechanic show youa defective part to guaranteethey’re notcreating work for themselves. This requires a trip to the door which is prohibited and marked “Do Not Enter.” But according to Ryan the mechanic, you’re notrequired to return thereno matter what reason. “Insurance companies don’t want customers in the garage, ever,” hestates. “It’s not that dangerous, but it’s not supposed to happen.”
8. THEY SOMETIMES MAKE THEIR OWN TOOLS.
When mechanics beginby buying their own tools–some even investing tens of thousands in equipment–there’ll alwaysbe times when they’ll need to think outside the box. “A tool might be missing, or not put back in the right place,” mobile mechanic Long Island NYCharles says. “Or a company justmay not produce what you need. I have a drawer full of sockets and wrenches. Making your own tool isan enjoyable experience.”
9. THEY USE A COOKIE SHEET TO STAY ORGANIZED.
While mobile phones have beenhelpful in keepingtrack of how a partrequires reassembling Some mechanics prefer to keep their work organized by setting out parts in a predetermined order. “If I’m working on a vehicle I’ve never seen before, and it’s a complicated job or a job spread out over multiple days like a transmission rebuild or something like that, I’ll take a cookie sheet and magnets and lay things out spatially to stay organized,” Ryan M. says. “You can also mark parts with a Sharpie.”
10. THEY DON’T ALWAYS PERFORM EVERY LITTLE TASK.
Cars brought in for maintenanceare expected to go throughmany small adjustments, however, thatroutine can getoverlookeddepending on how pressed forthe timeyour technician is. “Stuff like lubricating door hinges or latching mechanisms gets missed all the time,” Ryan says. “It doesn’t affect performance at that moment, but it can over time.”
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