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How To Get Your Mechanic To Like You

Updated on October 24, 2010

Being A Good Customer

 

It is understood that if a person is walking through the door of a mechanic’s shop, it is because they need something fixed and that they are unable to do so on their own. While an informed customer makes the mechanic’s job easier, one that feels the need to assert their knowledge frequently through argumentative disagreement from diagnosis to completion serves only to make the mechanic’s job more difficult.

An informed customer is a person who understands the basics of how a machine works and may even know how to do the work but is unable to for one reason or another. It could be due to the lack of proper tools, lack of time or ability, or a lack of understanding of the actual repair process. This customer’s general knowledge helps the mechanic by being able to accurately describe the difference between a knocking and a pinging and slippage versus surging. This kind of information saves the mechanic precious time during the diagnosis process.

On the flip side is the customer who has talked to every friend, cousin, neighbor, and weekend backyard mechanic in the county before getting to the certified, qualified mechanic. Along the way he has picked up a wealth of information that likely contradicts itself and may or may not be anywhere close to the actual problem. The danger with this individual is that they are extraordinarily difficult to please. For whatever reason, they have chosen that mechanic over their other contacts yet they will aggressively assert everybody else’s opinions as gold-standard fact.

As a rule of thumb, if you should find yourself in need of mechanical repair, you should do your homework. Listen to what previous customers say about their work, pay attention to the amount of business you see them doing regularly, look at how their shop is maintained, ask around and trust your gut. If, after all of your research, you find a mechanic that you feel you can trust your vehicle with, it is not advisable to question his/her ability. Granted, even experienced mechanics get stumped every once in a while or make an apprentice’s mistake out of haste or weariness, usually because of being rushed. The best mechanics will immediately make amends and seek to ensure you do not leave them without satisfaction.

The exception to this rule is when every decision he/she makes is countered with statements undermining their qualifications. Nobody wants to work for somebody like that and mechanics have the unique ability to turn around and refuse to service you in the future. The question that becomes immediately present to the mechanic is why did you bother to come to him in the first place if you know so many other more capable and knowledgeable people? Word-of-mouth advertising can make or break a business, mechanics especially, and they are always suspicious of the patron who comes in to test them, whether out of genuine interest or to report back to a competitor.

Here are some tips on how to be a good customer:

-Do your homework. That means researching the mechanic as well as knowing the basics about the vehicle you are bringing him/her. For example, you should at least know the vehicle’s year, make, model, and engine size.

-Know what your vehicle is doing. You do not have to know the mechanical lingo, though it would help. Pay attention to how it sounds, what it feels like, and when. Is the noise high pitched or low? Is it constant or sporadic? Does the vehicle shake or jerk? Is the symptom present whenever the vehicle is in gear or only at certain times such as during acceleration, deceleration, or at idle? All of these things are important to the mechanic and go a long ways towards discerning the proper diagnosis the first time around. It is just as frustrating to the mechanic to have to go in to fix one problem then another and all because he/she was not aware of one symptom that would have told him everything he/she needed to know.

-Remember your manners. That old saying about catching more flies with honey than vinegar is true. While it is sometimes necessary to be firm with a mechanic you may believe to be shady (in which case you should simply take your vehicle elsewhere if possible), it is more often a sign of disrespect to his/her training to talk down to them. A good mechanic will bend over backwards for a courteous customer but will do only the minimum required to perform the job correctly for an ill-tempered customer.

-Do not stand over their shoulder. First and foremost, this is for your safety. There is a reason that insurance companies state that customers are not allowed in the service area. Respect that. Additionally, it is often perceived as rude and disrespectful to insist on ‘helping’. It is best equated to being a back-seat driver. If you are going to supervise and give direction, do the both of you a favor and do the job yourself at home.

-Follow the mechanic’s recommendations. You brought the vehicle in for one purpose but that may not have been the only problem. The symptom that you came in for may have been caused by something else having been faulty or it may be the cause of something else failing if the job is not allowed to be performed to full completion. Sometimes you can get away with waiting a while before going back for the rest of the proper repairs but be mindful that you heed his/her warning regarding how long you have before incurring more damage. Equally important, do not complain about the vehicle still acting up if you refused to take the recommendations. If you brought your vehicle in for a new battery but the mechanic notices a problem with the charging system, take note. There is little more frustrating to a mechanic then getting word that he is being verbally criticized over work that they suggested but were not permitted to perform.

Follow these tips and you should have a pleasant experience that will hopefully lead to a long, happy professional relationship with a capable mechanic that will appreciate you as much you appreciate them.

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    • Chaotic Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Chaotic Chica 

      6 years ago

      :D Thank you, Anna Marie Bowman! And tell your boyfriend thank you, too! Patience is a virtue but even the best mechanics have their limits, many of them are listed above.I give your boyfriend credit for doing his best to serve diplomatically, it can be trying.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Great hub!!! My boyfriend is a mechanic, and he complains to me about customers all the time, especially ones who hover over his shoulder, asking a million questions, or demanding that the work be done the way they want it done. He tries to be diplomatic about the situation, but it isn't easy for him. I showed this to him, and he said more customers should read this. I am an instant fan!!!

    • Chaotic Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Chaotic Chica 

      6 years ago

      Thank you, Dee aka Nonna, I appreciate your compliments very much! Don't worry about getting laughed at, it's your vehicle and, accordingly, your safety on the line. I'm sure your mechanic appreciated your efforts, keep it up!

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 

      6 years ago

      I saw you in the forum about you Kindle book and thought I would check you out. Glad I did. I was drawn to the title of this one. Great article...great advice. My friend use to laugh at me because I would take cookies, donuts, danish and during season Girl Scout cookies. I always got great service. Voted up and useful.

    • Chaotic Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Chaotic Chica 

      7 years ago

      Breathing~thank you! I'm glad you found it useful.

      Sheila b.~Yes, tipping can be utilized in addition to good manners to aid in good relations. Thanks for adding that!

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      7 years ago

      I also give the mechanic who worked on my car a good tip. They remember.

    • breathing profile image

      Sajib 

      7 years ago from Bangladesh

      Helpful hub...I like this...

    • Chaotic Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Chaotic Chica 

      7 years ago

      Springboard I want to laugh but you do make a valid point about the majority of mechanics. My husband and I were forced to give in to the economy and shut our shop down which was disheartening both because we really did not want to but also because our next door neighbor is one of those shady mechanics {I've caught him returning parts because he we wrong about the MAKE of the vehicle or the year} whose been run out of three towns but is still in business. For the life of me I cannot figure out how he stays in business. That being said we had a couple of really good customers and for them we still work. We'll make house calls and give them discounts because of their loyalty and demeanor.

      On the personal level, if there is something that either myself or my husband is unable to perform {usually due to not having the proper tool} there are only two other mechanics within the surrounding four counties that I will trust my vehicle with and I recommend them every chance I get.

      I am glad that you have found yourself a mechanic like that and I have no doubt that you are an excellent customer!

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      I currently am a satisfied customer at a particular establishment, but like most lawyers are crooks, I have found that most mechanics are as well, and finding a good, honest one is very difficult to find. When you do, being a good customer is all the worthwhile since finding two honest mechanics in a lifetime might be too much to ask for. ;)

    • Chaotic Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Chaotic Chica 

      7 years ago

      Thank you, RunAbstract. I am glad that you liked this enough to comment, I appreciate that.

    • RunAbstract profile image

      RunAbstract 

      7 years ago from USA

      Very good advise! Well written, and precise!

      Thanks!

    • Chaotic Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Chaotic Chica 

      7 years ago

      Traqqer~Thank you, very much. I appreciate the compliment and I can guarantee that the mechanic appreciates you! You are right about how treating the mechanic respectfully does keep things honest and pleasant.

    • profile image

      ahorseback 

      7 years ago

      I'm tellin ya, chocolate chip cookies! LOL.

    • Traqqer profile image

      Traqqer 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Excellent article. I tend to do this when I'm at the mechanic. It keeps the mechanic honest and comfortable in fixing my car.

    • Chaotic Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Chaotic Chica 

      7 years ago

      Haha! Yes, the mini-skirt thing could help for women but it could also be dangerous if the mechanic likes that too much. Not every mechanic carries a moral compass. Besides, I know plenty of men who don't know the first thing about turning a wrench but will pretend to know it all rather than admit the truth for fear of seeming less than a man!

      As for you, you have nothing to fear. They made places like Sport Cuts for you guys and nurses are used to dealing with people uncertain about needles. (That last one I know personally~it's in my medical records, from when I was confined to hopital bedrest during my last two pregnancies, to let an IV stay for up to 7 days unless there's signs of infection. They say IVs should be changed an average of at least every 3 days but I threw such a fit over not wanting to continuously get poked that they altered their policy for me! LOL)

    • profile image

      ahorseback 

      7 years ago

      Chaotic Chica ; The 'Car Guys' on public radio will also tell you that a plate full of brownies ,a mini skirt and high heels will work wonders , But what do I know ,I'm just a guy? I kind of do my own stuff on vehicles but I run into problemo with things like walking into a room full of women to ask for a haircut , or asking a nurse to be carefull with that needle. Ha Ha.

    • Chaotic Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Chaotic Chica 

      7 years ago

      Thank you, Chris! I have seen this time and again and I often wonder what makes people treat mechanics the way they do. Then again, I also often wonder why some people won't take the time to at least know what they drive! How do they really expect a mechanic to do their job if they don't know what they are working with?

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Great advice from someone who knows!!!!

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