Finding a good mechanic can be tough. I covered this in a previous article. But after you’ve found a good mechanic, you should remember a few things as you talk to them. There are some things that can help them as they repair your car and that could actually reduce the cost of diagnostic work. So, with that in mind, here are a few things to remember.
How to Recreate the Problem
It never seems to fail; you take your car in to the mechanic, and it doesn’t make that “sound” you were talking about. The mechanic can’t recreate it, so they either spend billable hours trying to diagnose the problem or worse, they return that car to you and tell you they can’t do anything with it. To avoid this, see if you can pinpoint or recreate the actions that make the problem happen.
For example, if there is a clunking sound coming from the front, see if it only happens when you turn a corner. Does it only happen when you turn left? Does it happen when you are stopped, and you turn the wheel? Being able to recreate the problem can help you and your mechanic quickly pinpoint the potential problem.
An issue or problem that only happens occasionally is perhaps THE most difficult problem to diagnose. If you have an intermittent problem, try to note some of the following conditions to help your mechanic pinpoint the problem. Take note of the weather, the time of day or night, the temperature, if the engine is cold or warm, if the transmission is warm or cold (if you have been driving for a while, or not at all), etc. These factors can help when trying to diagnose intermittent problems.
The point of all of this is to communicate the issues to your mechanic. Try to write down what is wrong. In your own, simple words, let the mechanic know what you think the problem might be. Be brief and clear. The mechanic does not want to read a 40 page novel about your car. They just need to know what you think is wrong. Having it written is tremendously helpful to the mechanic since they can refer back to it as they work on the problem. They don’t have to try to remember what you said or try to read the scribbling of another mechanic.
I also include pictures whenever I feel it will be helpful or whenever the problem is sometimes more easily communicated through photos. For example, I was once needed to explain to a mechanic where I saw some liquid leaking out. I tried to explain it in words, but it was easier to take a photo with my phone, and then add it to my note to show them. With all of the technology we have today, we should take advantage of it and use it to help our mechanics.
When you are working with your mechanic, communication is key. You should try to help them recreate the issue, if possible, and give them a written explanation with photos, if applicable. You may think this is THEIR job, but the less time they need to diagnose the problem, the lower your repair bill is likely to be. So why not try some of these ideas. Your mechanic will thank you (or should).