The Top 10 Things Every Auto Mechanic Wishes Their Customers Knew


If you have a relationship with a great auto mechanic—you know this to be true. Your mechanic is on your side. They want your car to live a long and healthy life, and give you great joy. And they want the relationship with you to be long-lasting as well, and like any good relationship, to be one based on trust and open communication. And in that spirit, here are 10 things your auto-mechanic wishes you knew about your car, to keep things running smoother and the relationship strong:


1.) The Basics: Like, how does a car work? There are a surprising number of people that don’t know how an internal combustion engine works (small explosions in different chambers create force, which is transferred to the wheels), what the transmission does (transfers motion from the engine to the wheel) or how the brakes operate (slowing down your car with friction by clamping pads onto a rotor hub attached to your wheels, the brakes are powered by a hydraulic system that uses fluid driven by your brake pedal). The reason this knowledge is important to you is that a basic understanding of your car’s operating system will help you keep it operating—you’ll be better able to explain to your mechanic what the car is doing so he or she can better troubleshoot, to know when something is a problem, to provide better maintenance and even to have more articulate conversations with your mechanic so you know you are being treated fairly. Of course, if learning more about cars is your passion, if you get excited just thinking about how the systems work together, consider a training program like those at Universal Technical Institute.

2.) And more basics…how the way you drive affects wear and tear on your car. 80% of drivers rate themselves “above average”. So chances are, you are not as good as you think. Most people know that “riding the brakes” is not a good thing. Not as many realize that accelerating suddenly the minute the light turns green can harm your transmission. And there are a lot of places where more nuance in the way you drive can help many parts of your car last longer. Practice getting better at judging stopping distances so you rarely if ever have to slam on the brakes. Know to release your brakes before going over a speed bump, not while you are going over it. Accelerate smoothly. In order to become better at something you need to stay conscious and alert—and actually work to get better. That is how you develop skills, and knowing how to be a skilled driver—not just a good one—can help make the roads safer for everyone. Learn to be a better driver. Your car will thank you.

3.) How to look for a trusted auto mechanic. You want to make sure whoever you choose is trained properly, and has up to date knowledge and experience. You will want to make sure they have the latest engine analyzers and computerized diagnostic equipment. You will want to find out if they specialize in your kind of car. When looking for an auto mechanic, you might want to consider that independent shops are rated more highly than franchised chains by Consumer Reports.

4.) How knowledge of your car’s braking system can save your life. Having brakes that are in good working order is obviously essential to the safety of a car’s occupants. Everyone should get to know the braking system of his or her car intimately. Know the sound the brakes make when they wear down, and know how to visually check by looking through the spokes on wheels to make sure you have at least ¼ inch of brake pad. Other signs your brakes are wearing down is if they feel “soft” or if the pedal sinks toward the floor. Another thing to watch for is if the vehicle pulls to one side while braking. And finally, if you see a small puddle of fluid when the car is parked, it could be leaking brake fluid.

5.) How to get keep your tires inflated properly. Yes, this should be a no-brainer, but there are still people who miss it. Properly inflated tires help with fuel economy, help tires last longer, and should be part of an overall routine to maximize the safety of your vehicle.

6.) Understand at least the basics of how the heating and cooling systems function.Different cars require different types of antifreeze. Before topping off the coolant in your vehicle, check your Owner’s Manual for the correct type. The wrong coolant can harm the cooling system or engine. The heater/defroster in your vehicle draws its heat from the circulation of hot engine coolant. A sweet, syrupy odor inside the vehicle may mean a leak in the heater core. Have it checked out!


7.) Know how to check all the fluids in your car and what type of replacement fluids you need to purchase. This includes engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, and windshield wiper fluid. Knowing what type of fluid such as the engine oil weight is critical to the engines operation and longevity.

8.) Learn why it is a good idea to drive with at least half a tank of gas at all times. It’s not just an old wives’ tale—if you continually drive your car near the empty mark, your car will draw fuel from the very bottom of the gas tank—which is where all the sediments in the gas settle. This can result in a clogged fuel filter and contaminates building up in costly fuel injectors—or worse, particles could get into the engine.

9.) Read your owner’s manual. File this under “But surely everyone knows how to do this!” You may be surprised. When you purchase a car, be it brand-spanking new or an ancient jalopy, the first thing you should do is read the Owner’s Manual cover to cover. After all, you have just bought something that you are expecting will get you (and quite often family and friends as well) from point A to point B safely and securely for any number of years. Your owner’s manual will also describe different maintenance schedules based on the climate the vehicle will be operating in such as if you live in a hot climate.

10.) Know what makes the difference between a good auto mechanic and a great one. There are a lot of good, competent mechanics out there. They will fix your car properly, make sure it is safe to drive, and won’t overcharge you. But a GREAT mechanic? A great mechanic has a passion for cars, and can’t wait to fix what is broken so it is humming smoothly again. A great mechanic will ensure your car is set up for success to give it the chance to keep running smoothly way into the future. A great mechanic will be able to talk to you about options—to explain the difference between a quick fix that may cost less or a longer-lasting but perhaps more expensive solution. A great mechanic will love to answer your questions, and be sure in their expertise. A relationship with a great mechanic can last a lifetime.

2016-09-07 20:35:17