The top 10 mistakes made by your repair shop and how to avoid them.
We would all love to think our mechanic is the best trained, most knowledgeable auto professional around — but the truth is, no one person can be prepared to take on the demands of every make and model of vehicle in existence. We're all human and we all make mistakes. With complex new technologies being implemented with each new model year, staying ahead of the game is getting harder and harder. Fortunately, most shops are happy to right whatever wrong you discover — as long as you act quickly and speak up.
1. Forgetting the Shims
It isn't normal for brakes to be noisy just after they've been worked on. Take your car back to the shop and ask the mechanic to inspect the two tiny pieces of metal, or shims, that adhere to the back of the brake pads. They are the likely culprit.
Have you had your vehicle in a shop recently for brake work and then noticed a little more squeaking than you're used to after driving off? Odds are your mechanic forgot to include two tiny pieces of metal that adhere to the back of your brake pads. While not essential to making your vehicle stop safely, these shims do cut down on the amount of noise generated by minute vibrations in the brake pad. If you think your brakes are louder than they should be, check with the shop. Most garages will take care of the problem at no extra charge and get you back on the road squeak-free in no time.
2. Skipping the Filter
Change the oil filter every time you change the oil in your car. A malfunctioning oil filter could lead to premature engine failure, lower fuel economy and costly repairs down the road.
Everybody loves a deal, especially when it comes to routine maintenance. If you're one of the many who have been lured by impossibly economical oil changes, make sure the job includes a new oil filter. An oil filter is essential to keeping your engine's lubricant free of harmful contaminants. Unfortunately, if you believe your oil filter hasn't been changed, you'll have to take the vehicle to another shop and ask them to do the job correctly. An unchanged oil filter should constitute immediate grounds for a change of mechanic, since it could lead to premature engine failure, lower fuel economy and costly repairs down the road.
3. The Wrong Transmission Fluid
It's amazing how many different types of transmissions there are on the road right now. Even more staggering are the differences in lubricant those gearboxes require. Automatic transmission fluid comes in a variety of weights (thicknesses), and some manual gearboxes simply require motor oil for lubrication. Even more confusing, some manual transmissions use fluid specifically designed for automatics. Needless to say, it's easy for a mechanic to get turned around when it comes to changing your vehicle's transmission fluid. If you notice your car or truck shifting harder than usual or grinding as you shift gears, immediately turn around and take it back to the shop. Insist on a full flush and fill, because using the wrong fluid will cause expensive damage in a hurry.
4. Improperly Sized Belts
Using a belt not designed for your vehicle can lead to undue stress on the alternator, air conditioner compressor and power-steering pump, to name just a few. All costly repairs.
Most shops keep a wide selection of belts on hand to suit the vast majority of vehicles on the road. It's impossible for a garage to be prepared for every car that comes cruising onto the lift, and a mechanic may be tempted to use a belt that is similarly sized to the one called for by the manufacturer. Since belt types vary based not just on size but also profile, shape and type of material, this can lead to problems in a hurry. Using a belt not designed for your vehicle can lead to undue stress on your accessory pulleys — things like the alternator, air conditioner compressor and power-steering pump. It can also make lots of noise. If your belts are squeaking and they were just replaced, odds are you don't have the right belt for your car. Turn around and get the right equipment as soon as possible.
5. The Wrong Hose
As a car gets older, manufacturers are less and less likely to continue manufacturing replacement parts. When that happens, the aftermarket industry usually steps in to take up the slack, though fit and quality may suffer as a result. This is especially true with radiator hoses. Most aftermarket companies make one hose that can be cut and bent to fit a variety of vehicles. Unfortunately, this results in added stress on plastic-frame radiators and leaks from improper fit. If you see a leak from your brand-new hose, take the vehicle back to the shop and demonstrate the problem. The mechanic should be able to solve the issue by readjusting the hose or ordering a replacement.