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.