10 Things You Never Want to Hear From a Mechanic
'She's a goner' is definitely the worst, but here are some other coronary-inducing phrases.
Average vehicle repair costs fluctuate depending on the make and model of the car and how it's driven, according to Consumer Reports. However, repair and maintenance accounts for about 4 percent of annual car-ownership cost.
Your car is in the shop. The phone rings. It's your mechanic — the call you've been dreading all day. He has discovered what is wrong with your 4-wheeled friend, plotted a course of treatment and has an estimate for how much it will cost. If luck is on your side, the fix will be so simple and obvious that it's a joy to hear from the greasy guy: "Your brakes are fine. The floor mat bunched up under the pedal a little, slightly limiting its range of motion. I straightened the mat, secured it, all's good. No charge. Come get this thing out of my garage."
Unfortunately, such good news from your mechanic is rare. More often than not, he says nothing you want to hear, prefacing the bad news with something sympathetic like, "Well, the prognosis isn't good," or a lame joke such as, "You better get your checkbook out."
Since the latter scenario is so universally loathed, and because it happens frequently, we decided to chat with some top service technicians to see what phrases their clients like to hear the least. Here are some of our favorites.
"Have you noticed that low-pitched knocking sound? Not good."
By design, engines make lots of noises. Some are perfectly normal, some imply that a minor fix or tune-up is needed, and some — well, just hope you never hear them. We call these last noises car-killers. A low-pitched "tock tock tock" usually falls into this category. Though it might only be something that has come loose and is getting tossed around under the hood, the sound is more likely rod knock, which is caused by damaged or misshapen connecting-rod bearings banging together. An engine with rod knock can last a long time when driven gently. But under hard acceleration, like on a highway, the problem can get very bad, very quickly, usually resulting in a thrown rod, which is when the connecting rod breaks and the broken end crashes through the side of the engine. Unless you plan to power your car "Flintstones" style, you'll want to get those bearings fixed fast, because a thrown rod means you'll have to replace the engine, and a new engine for a late-model vehicle can cost well over $10,000 in parts and labor.
"Did you see all this rust when you bought the car?"
A surprisingly common horror story is one that happens after you've bought a used car: the so-called post-purchase inspection. It's the Bizarro World version of the pre-purchase inspection that you were supposed to have performed before handing over money to the vehicle's previous owner. Remember, once you purchase a used vehicle, any problems that arise thereafter are yours. In this case, the mechanic discovers rust practically everywhere, in the suspension, subframe, shock mounts, etc., and those parts are now all on the verge of crumbling. A simple look-see would have alerted you to the problem. Now you can either sell the car for scrap iron, or consider it a lesson learned and pay your mechanic thousands of dollars to fix the problem.
"Looks like your cat has gone bad."
No, your friendly neighborhood mechanic isn't suggesting your pet tabby has joined a gang. He's referring to your vehicle's catalytic converter. Located between the engine and exhaust system, a catalytic converter essentially transforms three noxious exhaust compounds — hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides — into relatively benign ones. A broken or failing catalytic converter won't hurt your car, but you can't drive the car without one; catalytic converters are required by federal emissions laws. According to CarMD's Vehicle Health Index, catalytic-converter prices range from $363 to $3,047, and the average time it will take a mechanic to replace it is 1.3 hours.
"You have a short somewhere in your electrical system."
There's nothing particularly scary about a dead battery, right? Sure, it can be a hassle if it happens at an inopportune time, but it's still a common issue, and one that's cheap and easy to remedy. However, when a brand-new battery goes dead and you're certain you didn't leave the headlights or some other electrical accessory on overnight, that's much different. It means there is a short somewhere in the car's electrical system. While most shorts are simple enough to fix, these pesky buggers can be infuriatingly difficult to locate. Be prepared to watch the labor hours rack up with this one. CarMD says the average national labor rate for a mechanic is just under $80 an hour. And finding a short can take days.
"The coolant level is fine. Your engine is cracked."
When your car's temperature gauge began creeping up toward that ominous red "H," you knew enough to pull over and let it cool down. After all, this usually just means the vehicle is running low on coolant and you need to get it to the nearest gas station to add some. In your mind, you're thinking the worst-case scenario is a coolant leak or perhaps a faulty temperature sensor. However, overheating can also be caused by a crack in the engine head. The fix? If you're talking about the cylinder-head assembly, the average cost is $945 for parts, and average labor is 11.2 hours, which means the cost is prohibitive.
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I have been a technician for several years now. I have watched many mechanics so far out of their league now a days with all the new technology. Mechanics just keep throwing money and parts at problems until they get lucky. Technicians figure out the problem not just keep guessing at the problem. I do lots of work of just fixing other people's screw-ups. That can some of the worse jobs.
I don't know where they get these prices the estimates are way off most of my bills don't come anywhere near them $10,000 for late model engine??? more like 1500-3000.
Alignment pull probably struts or a arm bushings not frame. Again a mechanic can perform alignment, but every alignment machine out there can print a paper with all the measurements on it only the technicians can read it mechanics just think the colors are cool.
I think this article just breeds fear with their over pricing but car failures are a reality. Just stop treating your mechanic like he's the bad guy.
I have two vehicles. I have my Mercedes car which I have always taken to the same guy in San Diego. My Mazda on the other hand hasn't needed much service except changing the oil, so I don't have a place for it. Last year I had a problem. When I started the truck I was getting the windows all fogged up. The problem was the heater core. Great. I remembered an auto repair facility not far from my house that I passed daily. So I drove the truck over and told the guy what the problem was. He said that it was undoubtedly the heater core. BIG JOB. The entire dash has to come out in order to get to the heater core. Tough job. Lots of time. It was going to cost me about $900 to get that fixed. Obviously I didn't leave the truck. I wanted to do a little research myself.
I went over to NAPA auto parts and wanted to see what the heater core actually cost. Beleive it or not the cost of the part was I believe around $25. It wasn't $30 and maybe it was $20 but at any rate not an expensive part. When the guy looked the part up for me he commented that he had the same thing happen to his truck. His was a Ranger which is the same truck as the Mazda. He said it didn't take 20 minutes to change out. He quickly ran through the procedure. I went right home with the part. He was exactly right. It took me less than 20 minutes to change it. Unbelievable. The mechanic who is suppose to be all knowledgable on these things was really going to take me to the cleaners. Can you beleive it? He would have charged me $900 for something that took a $25 part and 20 minutes of labor. I wanted to jut kick some butt over that. So long story short, if you have a problem and you are able to get drive the vehicle take a few minutes and do the research. Those guys are out there. Beware.
Was this writer actually paid to write this swill? First, "your car will never be the same after frame damage" Is advertising you are completely incompetent. Second, The people who tell you "your whole brake system...." are scamming
you unless you are driving your 4X4 through lakes. And for those of you that
still think all mechanics are out to rip you off, this is America. Do it yourself. After you get done buying $60,000 worth of tools and get paid by the miserable
flat rates.... and have to put up with people telling you "my car did not do that
before you worked on it....."
Try this people. HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE......
I did not BUILD your car, BREAK it, FIX it, or TAKE YOUR MONEY either.
During my 25+ years of Automotive experience as a Service Manager for
Ford Motor Company, Service Manager for Mercedes Benz of North America,
and Director of Operations for Pennzoil Corporation, in charge of the successful operation of Several Hundred Jiffy Locations.
ONE thing and ONE thing only, is THE direct result of your fear on receiving this
SO CALLED dreaded phone call.
YOU DO NOT MAINTAIN YOUR CAR PROPERLY, AND IF YOU DID; YOU WOULD HAVE A MUCH BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR REPAIR FACILITY, AND A BETTER RUNNING LONGER LASTING VEHICLE.....
I mean REALLY people, you prepare for everything else in your life. Dates, Dinner, Vacations, Days off, even shopping. Yet are somehow overly surprised that your baby (which by the way most of you treat like crap) costs so much to repair, and you don't have the money to fix it.
I DO NOT believe you. YOU DO have the money to fix it, should have prepared for it, and now it costs more that it should have....
It's called preventive maintenance for a reason.....
It's a great idea to have a friend in the Auto repair business.....
The simple fact is most people are not very good at what they do, mechanics included. That does not mean they are dishonest, simply that they may not have the skills needed to properly diagnose the problem. In other situations where the mechanic is competent, customers do not describe the problem accurately enough for a proper diagnosis. In addition, the average person does not understand the complexity of modern cars (they think they know more than the technician). But, for some reason they do understand the complexity of computers, forgetting that most cars have several onboard computers controlling every aspect of operation. The job is not as easy as it seems.
People should be more wary of their doctor, whom they trust implicitly, who has a much higher chance of killing them than their local auto technician.
I've worked in two GM auto dealerships for thirty years. You should understand the is a difference between a mechanic and a technician. There are times when any "grease monkey" can do the easy stuff under his shade tree with no overhead, special tool inventory or any of the other plethora of expenses a dealership is burdened with, for less money. I wish I had a dime for every vehicle I have seen rendered to a dealer because the "local mechanic" couldn't figure the problem out. I would also like to see the invoice for the late model car that cost $10,000 for an engine replacement.
I would like to share some tips with you about free estimates for the modern vehicle. The complexity of the modern vehicle makes it impossible to give an accurate estimate over the telephone. Some examples would include, how much for a tune up for my car or my car has the check engine light on and how much will that cost to fix, and so much more. The reasons for this is that a tune up on a modern vehicle can be extremely expensive and if taken care of properly, tune ups are only scheduled maintenance and almost always tune ups don't fix anything. If your car runs bad, tell the shop that your car runs bad, don't just say you want a tune up. Spark plugs are made of platinum or iridium and can last 100,000 miles or longer, most cars no longer use distributors or even spark plug wires, there are no carburetors to set or adjust and all adjustments are computer controlled by a preprogrammed operating strategy. If something in the operating strategy is out of a predetermined range the check engine light will come on and set a trouble code.
For example, lets say you took your car to the local discount parts store and had the free code reader plugged in (service not available in California, well I wonder why) to find out your car has a code P0171 oxygen sensor detects a lean condition. If you want an estimate to replace the oxygen sensor we can do that. But remember that is not what the trouble code said to do, it only says that a lean condition has been detected by that sensor. If someone replaced the oxygen sensor and the car had a weak fuel pump or a dirty fuel filter causing not enough fuel or maybe a vacuum leak causing to much air to enter the engine or any number of other things that could cause the engine to run lean, then the light would come right back on for the exact same reason meaning the oxygen sensor did it's job and reported the lean condition, but most people would think that the new sensor was bad or someone just doesn’t know what they are doing or worse maybe even believe they got ripped off.
Stop being fooled by mass marketing from discount, cut rate, chinese supplied parts stores that want you to believe that there is a machine that will tell you what is wrong or what part to change just so they can sell parts. Yes they sell parts they don't fix cars they make money selling their parts and they get rich while you keep guessing with there magic code reading maching. A good auto tech will have a high quailty scan tool and a DSO scope to determine the true cause of your problem so it gets fixed right the first time. So you don't spend days not going to work making your money for your family just so you can throw your money away at the parts store buying parts that there code reader says you need.
Get a grip and pay for your mechanics testing time so he doesn't have to hide it in the bill