Within the United States alone, roughly 750,000 auto mechanics worklong shifts diagnosing, repairing and preventing vehicleproblems. However, due to stereotypicalportrayals in mediaand a jargon-filled vocabulary of car components, driversoften feel as if their lack of understanding maycause technicians to make use of them. However, that’s not true, mechanics say–the techs arehere to help. To get a better idea of what their workinvolves, mental_floss spoke with a variety of mechanics frommobile mechanic Raleigh North Carolinathe independent repair shops and dealerships. Here’s a peekof what happens afteryour car goes in.
1. THEY WISH YOU’D STOP WIPING BOOGERS ON YOUR SEAT.
Cars can bethe living room of a mobile home,filled with ornaments and music, with the occasional dried snot. Charles the mechanic, who is employed at a Volkswagen dealership and runsThe HonestThe Mechanic blog, says he’switnessed his fair share of nose gold when working on cars. “People seem to like picking their nose and wiping it on the seat,” hedeclares. To ensure that the work is done properly technicians would like you to bring in your vehicle with nobody fluids or other trash in. “Sometimes there’s a bunch offilthy clothes on top of the spare or fast food wrappers lying around the floor that we ask customers to remove. The majority of vehicles are clean, but peopleare not.”
2. THERE’S A SPECIAL BOOK THAT TELLS THEM WHAT TO CHARGE–EVEN IF IT’S TOO MUCH.
Ever walk away feeling like you’ve overpaid for a repairmobile mechanic Philadelphia PAIt’s possiblebut not the sole fault of the shop. Nearly every mechanic who workswith a flat fee (as instead of a per hourcost) uses an industry trade manual that outlineshow longthe typical repair would take. If you’ve been charged, say, $200 for a two-hourjob that an experienced mechanic could completein 30 minutes, you’restill charged by the book–andyou don’t get a refund.
The auto tool business couldhave a role to play in the blame. “The way it becomes unfair is when a mechanic buys a new specialty tool that may cost $300 but that pays for itself quickly,” says Ryan an ex-mechanic in Colorado. “It means they can do the job in less time, but the customer still pays for full time.”
3. THEY CAN FIND MICE AND SQUIRRELS STUCK IN YOUR AXLES.
Based on the region of the country you reside in, a car’s warm underbelly can be attractive to animals and rodents. Charles has seen acorns being suckedin hoods andremoved a squirrel from the grill’s entrance. “The biggest thing we see [in North Carolina] is chewed wires from mice,” Charlessays. “They’ll make a nest inyour airbox. I’ve also had to washthe guts of deer.” Should you beplanning to be storing your car for a long period ofperiod, Charles believes that some formof rodent deterrent spray mightbe helpful.
4. THEY MIGHT RUN SOME ERRANDS IN YOUR CAR.
While few mechanics actuallyuse their vehicles to enjoy joydrives, the factthey’re not compensated for the time it takes to test drive one meansyour brand new spotless Honda might end up with a shockingstreak of ketchup on the driver’s seat. “Basically, every vehicle needs to be driven to make sure the problem is resolved,” Ryan declares. “If you’re headed out to lunch and you need to confirm that, it makes sense to drive it down the road.”
5. THEY MIGHT RESCUE YOU IN A ROADSIDE EMERGENCY.
Although their personal morality mileageis different for mechanics, they all feelit is their duty to stop whenever they see a driver who is stranded. “I do a lot of highway driving in the winter and the rule of thumb is if you see someone stranded on the highway, you stop and check on them,” says Ryan M., a mechanic from Winnipeg. “I’ve also pulled lots of vehicles out of ditches and off curbs.”
6. DEALERSHIPS HAVE ACCESS TO RESOURCES THAT PRIVATELY-OWNED SHOPS DON’T.
If you’ve ever considered whetheryou should bring your non-warranty vehicle in for repairsat a local, less expensive owned shop over the dealer-brandedshingle, here’s a point to think about: Many of those smaller businesses can’t afford to pay for the kind of information provided by car manufacturers in order toin diagnosing and treatingany issue. “We’re able to go deep into the Volkswagen brand,” Charles says. “There are plenty ofresources available to uswhich an independent locationwouldn’t. We can access the car’s engineers ifwe require that. The brand is an ally. A small-scale shop won’t to invest $15,000 per year(for this data) to be a specialist in one type of car. Once they’ve surpassed their range of expertise, it’s more sense to go todealers.”
7. YOU’RE TECHNICALLY NOT ALLOWED IN THE GARAGE. EVER.
You’ve likely heard ofhaving a mechanic demonstratethe defective component to ensurethey’re not simplyperforming work that they haven’t done. That involves a trip beyond the forbidden door marked “Do Not Enter.” But according to Ryan it’s notallowed to go back thereregardless of the reason. “Insurance companies don’t want customers in the garage, ever,” Ryandeclares. “It’s not that dangerous, but it’s not supposed to happen.”
8. THEY SOMETIMES MAKE THEIR OWN TOOLS.
Although mechanics usually beginby buying their own tools–some even investing tens of thousands in supplies, there willcome a time when they’ll have to think outside the box. “A tool might be missing, or not put back in the right place,” mobile mechanic Long Island NYCharles says. “Or an enterprisemay not produce what you require. I have a drawer full of sockets and wrenches. Making custom tools isan enjoyable experience.”
9. THEY USE A COOKIE SHEET TO STAY ORGANIZED.
While cell phones have becomeuseful to keeptrack of how a partneeds to be re-assembled however, some mechanics prefer to be organized by laid out parts in a predetermined order. “If I’m working on a vehicle I’ve never seen before, and it’s a complicated job or a job spread out over multiple days like a transmission rebuild or something like that, I’ll take a cookie sheet and magnets and lay things out spatially to stay organized,” Ryan M. says. “You can also mark parts with a Sharpie.”
10. THEY DON’T ALWAYS PERFORM EVERY LITTLE TASK.
Cars brought in to be maintainedare supposed to undergoan array of minor adjustments, but thelaundry list of items can beignoreddepending on how pressed forthe timeyour technician is. “Stuff like lubricating door hinges or latching mechanisms gets missed all the time,” Ryan mentions. “It doesn’t affect performance at that moment, but it can over time.”