15 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Auto Mechanics
In the United States alone, roughly 750,000 auto mechanics work long shifts diagnosing, repairing and preventing car problems. But due to stereotyped media portrayals and a jargon-filled vocabulary of automotive parts, people can sometimes feel like their lack of understanding may cause technicians to make use of their expertise. But that’s not the case, mechanics say–the techs are there to assist. To get a clearer understanding of what their job involves, mental_floss spoke with several mechanics at mobile mechanic Raleigh North Carolina the independent repair shops and dealerships. Here’s a look at what goes on after your car has been inspected.
1. THEY WISH YOU’D STOP WIPING BOOGERS ON YOUR SEAT.
The car is often the living room of a mobile home, filled with ornaments, music, and occasionally dried snot. Charles an auto mechanic who is employed at the Volkswagen dealership, and who runs The Honest Mechanical blog, has had his fair share of nose gold when working on vehicles. “People seem to like picking their nose and wiping it on the seat,” Charles declares. To ensure that the work is done properly the techs prefer that you bring your car in without any bodily fluids or garbage inside. “Sometimes there’s a pile of dirty clothes on the spare or fast food wrappers lying on the floor, which we ask people to clean up. A lot of cars are clean, however, people aren’t always clean.”
2. THERE’S A SPECIAL BOOK THAT TELLS THEM WHAT TO CHARGE–EVEN IF IT’S TOO MUCH.
Are you ever left feeling as if you’ve overpaid for a repair mobile mechanic Philadelphia PA It’s possiblebut not entirely the shop’s fault. The majority of mechanics working with a flat fee (as opposed to a per-hour rate) references an industry trade manual which estimates the time a typical repair should take. If you’ve paid, for instance $200 for a one-hour task that an experienced mechanic can finish in just 30 minutes, you’re still billed according to the manual, and you’re not entitled to a reimbursement.
The auto industry might be a part of the problem. “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.
Depending on which part of the country you reside in, the warmth of a car’s underbelly could be attractive to animals and rodents. Charles had seen the acorns tucked beneath hoods and caught a squirrel in the grill’s front. “The biggest thing we see [in North Carolina] is chewed wires from mice,” Charles claims. “They’ll build a den in the air box. I’ve also had the need to scrub the carcasses of deer.” Should you be going to be storing your car for a prolonged period of period, Charles suggests that a type repellent spray for rodents could be helpful.
4. THEY MIGHT RUN SOME ERRANDS IN YOUR CAR.
Although a small percentage of mechanics use their vehicles to enjoy joy drives, the fact they’re not compensated for the time needed to test drive one means that your sparkling new Honda may develop a stain of ketchup in 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.
Though their individual morality is different for mechanics, they all feel duty-bound to pull over when they see a driver 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 in 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 wondered whether you should take your out-of-warranty vehicle in for a repair at a local, less expensive owned shop over the dealer-branded shingle, here’s a point to consider that many of these smaller outfits can’t afford the kinds of details provided by auto manufacturers to assist identify and treat a problem. “We’re able to go deep into the Volkswagen brand,” Charles says. “There are many resources we have access to that an independent place wouldn’t. We can have access to the engineers working on the car, if we require that. The name is an all-alliance. A small shop isn’t going to spend $15,000 annually [for that data] to be a specialist in one type of car. If it’s beyond their area of knowledge, it’s more sense to visit an dealer.”
7. YOU’RE TECHNICALLY NOT ALLOWED IN THE GARAGE. EVER.
You’ve likely heard of asking a mechanic to demonstrate the defective component to ensure they’re not making up work to do. This requires a trip to the forbidden door marked “Do Not Enter.” However, according to Ryan the mechanic, you’re not allowed to go back there regardless of the reason. “Insurance companies don’t want customers in the garage, ever,” he says. “It’s not that dangerous, but it’s not supposed to happen.”
8. THEY SOMETIMES MAKE THEIR OWN TOOLS.
When mechanics begin by purchasing their own tools – some even investing thousands of dollars in supplies, there will come a time when they’ll have to come up with a new idea. “A tool might be missing, or not put back in the right place,” mobile mechanic Long Island NY Charles states. “Or an enterprise might not make what you require. I have a drawer full of cut-up sockets and wrenches. Making a custom tool is an enjoyable experience.”
9. THEY USE A COOKIE SHEET TO STAY ORGANIZED.
Although mobile phones have proven handy to help keep in mind how a piece must be assembled, some mechanics still like to keep their work organized by setting out the pieces in a particular 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.
Vehicles that are in for maintenance are required to undergo numerous small adjustments, but the laundry list can sometimes get skipped over in accordance with how squeezed for the time your technician is. “Stuff like lubricating door hinges or latching mechanisms gets missed all the time,” Ryan says. “It doesn’t affect performance at that moment, but it can over time.”