A trustworthy Mechanic is something every family should have; a workshop you’re faithful to and can happily recommend to people. Unfortunately, a good mechanic is something that very few have. Many people throughout their driving careers will move from workshop to workshop, often for no reason other than convenience. Especially for something as basic as a bi-annual scheduled service – it’s a simple job that every mechanic should deliver comprehensively, with quality parts and at a low cost. So why stress about who does the job?
Unfortunately, workshops and mechanics are only human and there will be things that they forget or miss along the way. Think of it like a doctor; they see a new patient every hour, so how can we expect them to remember the medical history and symptoms checked for every single person that walks through the door? Let alone new patients whose medical history they’ve never seen before! It’s the same for cars, each car is at a different service interval, requires different parts and different checks… A great mechanic will work systematically through their checklist and ensure the job is done right, others won’t. So it is important to check your car when it comes back from a service to make sure the mechanic did everything they should and that you got your money’s worth.
Whilst it’s paramount that they change the fluids and filters required by the service and some people go to the extent of putting marks on the filters to make sure their mechanic changes them (speaking from experience, it’s very common). It’s the attention to detail that separates an “acceptable” service from a service that feels like you got your money’s worth and promises you trouble free motoring.
Like a family doctor or the butcher your Nonna has been going to for 30 years, a good mechanic will want to build a rapport with you – they want your business and you want to receive the best quality service. We all know that it’s no secret that mechanics, workshops and dealerships have a reputation for ‘ripping people off’ and while it’s the exception – not the rule – that’s responsible for this, our resident Spanner Spinner James has compiled a small list of things you can check to ensure you have gotten your dollars worth from your chosen workshop when your car comes back from its service every time.
1. Receive a Verbal or Written Report on any Faults with the Vehicle.
Servicing a vehicle on a hoist allows your ‘knight in greasy coveralls’ to access most components of your car fairly easily. Part of any service should be to cast an eye over the major components of your car and let you know if anything needs attention in the immediate or near future. Be sure to ask your mechanic when you pick the car up if they had noticed any underlying issues you need to be aware of.
2. Check your Handbrake is Adjusted.
I was always very big on making sure the handbrake is adjusted correctly in customer’s cars. Not only is it the very first thing you will touch when you pick up the car, but it’s also a matter of safety. If your handbrake was out of adjustment and you climb into your car to find its now nice and tight, you can be assured your mechanic took the time to make it that way. A well-adjusted handbrake should take about 4-6 clicks while a foot operated handbrake should take around 4-8. A too tightly adjusted footbrake can be awkward to use, so listen out!
3. Tyre Pressures are Even.
Make sure your tyres pressures are all even. Drop down to your closest petrol station and check. The pressure they are set at is equally important, however, petrol station tyre pressure gauges are seldom accurate and a better indicator that your mechanic has checked them is equal pressure in all 4. Be sure to check the spare tyre as well as this should have been checked during the service.
4. Check your Lights.
Ensure all the exterior lights work on your car including the reverse lights and the eye-level brake light, if your car has one. Most mechanics will check this, however, if you get caught without working lights this can result in a fine or warning if a Police Officer notices, along with being a safety issue for those around you.
5. Check the Condition of your Wiper Blades!
No one notices that their wiper blades need replacing until it’s raining, so it’s on your mechanic to check these during a service so you don’t get caught out! Working wiper blades should clear water effectively without streaking or ‘chattering’ across the windscreen. If your wiper blades have not been changed and they appear to require attention, your mechanic should mention it in the service report or in person upon pickup.
6. Washer Bottle Level
Your washer bottle level is a very simple but often overlooked service item! A good mechanic will check all the vehicles fluid levels including topping up your washer fluid. Some washer bottle designs lend themselves to trapping air inside and this can lower the level when it eventually escapes, so please don’t draw and quarter your mechanic if it’s a little under full, but it should be very close.
And that’s it!
Our aim here isn’t to give you ammunition to pounce on your mechanic but rather to help ensure you get what you pay for. If you feel any of these areas have not been addressed by your mechanic they will almost always be happy to explain or clarify any concerns you have. We would, in fact, suggest checking these things prior to your service and therefore if you feel any of these require special attention don’t hesitate to mention it to the workshop so they can ensure its rectified. Most mechanics will be able to give you a brief run down of what their service checklist entails and if they don’t then it’s time to drive onto the next one!