Have you ever been in a situation where you knew there was something wrong with your car but you just couldn’t quite find the way to explain it to your mechanic? You’re not alone; it’s a common problem. There are so many moving parts on a vehicle that finding the one that went bad can be just as troublesome for your car mechanic as it can for you. Here are a few tips which may help both you describe and troubleshoot your car problems with your mechanic.

1.)    Don’t be embarrassed.

Never be afraid to explain noises to your mechanic. You may feel like a two-year-old saying, “It’s making a rrrr-rrrr-rrrr noise when I stop” or “It kind of goes chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga-boom, when I press the gas.” Don’t be afraid to go all out with the noises. Describe them in detail. Have fun with them, make your tech smile a little; improving your relationship with him can only do good things for you. Make sure you mention when the problems are happening and where on the vehicle they sound like they may be coming from. Do they happen only when braking? When starting the vehicle? When making a right or left turn? Only when you have the A/C on? Only on acceleration? Only on the freeway at high speeds? All of these questions can help your tech go straight to the area of the problem and save you tons in diagnostic charges.

2.)    Don’t guess.

There’s nothing worse you can say to a technician than, “It think it may be this.” Even if you have a good knowledge of the inner workings of an automobile, this does nothing good for your relationship with your tech. You may think you’re giving him invaluable knowledge when, in fact, he may be walking away thinking to himself, If you’re so smart, you fix it. Remember, part of what you’re paying him for is for him to make the diagnosis. Describe your problem in detail, tell him how/when it happens, then leave the rest to him. If there’s a problem there, chances are he’ll find it. Unless you’re describing a recurring problem that you and the technician have tried to unsuccessfully fix in the past, leave the guessing for Trivial Pursuit.

3.)    Make sure he knows the history.

If this is your first time to a new shop, or if you’re bringing in a different car, make sure your tech knows a little bit about the vehicle. If it’s had brake issues in the past, tell the technician. If you’ve heard it make this noise before, let him know when and what it took to fix it last time. If a major component like the engine or transmission has been replaced, point that out. Your tech can never know too much about your vehicle. Remember, he’s like the doctor for your car. You wouldn’t go to the doctor to get a check-up and not tell him everything he needs to know to make sure you’re healthy, would you?

4.)    Go for a ride.

Don’t be afraid to ask the tech to take a test drive with you. Most of them will be happy to go because it saves them tons of time trying to figure out where the problem is. Remember, you’re not taking him away from his job, you’re helping him do his job. Make sure you let him drive and take him through the same situations and conditions where you first noticed the problem. Riding in the passenger seat may also give you a better idea of where the problem is. Noises on the passenger side of the vehicle may sound like they’re coming from the driver’s side until you sit over there.

Above all, remember, technicians are not the bad guys. Even though they never usually have good news, it’s not their fault. They don’t design the vehicles, they simply fix them. Understanding that communication is the key to success will not only improve your relationship with your tech, it will save you money in the long run.

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