5 Things You Need To Know About Your Neighborhood Car Mechanic

Some jobs just require the attention of authorized automotive professionals. By trying to save money, you might actually pay more for irreversible damage to your car.

5 Things You Need To Know About Your Neighborhood Car Mechanic

Don’t get us wrong: We love our neighborhood car mechanics. They’re the knights in shining armor that come to our rescue in times of trouble. Dead battery? Radiator problem? Broken fan belt? A sudden, inexplicable engine breakdown? Call them and they shall come—no matter what time of day and place you’re at. You can rest assured that they will make your car up and running at all costs.

Which brings us to the operative term here: “at all costs.” While the convenience of having them at your beck and call cannot be matched, not all car mechanics are equipped with the right tools and knowledge to give your car the long-term solution it needs, and often resort to band-aid solutions. We’ve rounded up the most common repair mistakes that we hope manong mechanics will make less of, in time.

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1. They may have improper tools.

Roadside mechanics only make use of what they have, as long as it gets the job done. Since they don’t have the proper tools, they tend to pull off a MacGyver most of the time. For instance, not using the right lug iron size for the wheel stud can cause a strip that’s near impossible to remove. Using a makeshift jack stand to fix something on the chassis can put the mechanic’s life in danger. The next time you give them a tip, it would be nice to leave a reminder for them to buy the right tools as well.

2. Their diagnosis is often guided by gut-feel.

You may have heard the story of a certain mechanic that can tell the problem of your vehicle by “listening” to the sound of your engine. From there he’d recommend the “exact” type of repair your vehicle needs. But diagnosing cars is much trickier these days, with computer boxes and digital tools used in figuring out what specific problem needs to be addressed.

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3. They tend to take shortcuts.

Take it from Marlon*, 38, who had a mechanic successfully repair his 2005 Japanese SUV and make it run smoothly. After a few days, his car’s idle speed would fluctuate again. It was only when he brought the car to the dealer that he found out his repairman did the mechanical equivalent of a triple heart bypass—tapping wires here and there—just to make the car work, which didn’t really address the problem. What’s worse, he’d spent triple the amount for the mechanic’s repairs than what he’d paid in the dealer’s in-house service center.

4. There’s a chance they have old stock.

Neighborhood mechanics are good for DIY and temporary repairs, for sure. However, you may want to steer clear of these pop-up shops when it comes to maintenance of your car fluids. Since people either opt to DIY or go to authorized repair centers for change oil, brake fluids, coolants, and the like, you can’t be sure how long that bottle has been sitting on their shelf. These chemicals also have expiration dates, and using them on your vehicle can cause further damage to your car.

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5. It takes them longer to fix the problem.

Have you ever walked into an auto repair shop that looked like something out of Terminator series? Socket wrenches, nuts and bolts, and tire irons of different sizes everywhere—such an ungodly sight for your (at least) half-a-million baby. There’s a reason authorized car shops are organized: A streamlined workflow is what makes them finish the repairs as quickly as possible. –Dino Mari Testa

Do you have your own neighborhood mechanic stories to tell? Share them in the comment box below