As a driver and owner of a car, there are certain things I can do by myself:
• Perform basic motor-maintenance checks,
• Keep my battery in tip-top condition,
• Change a tyre,
• Being able to jump-start it...
For the rest, I call on the help and expertise of a professional.
While most autorepair centres and mechanics are run by honest individuals, there are unfortunately some shady operations out there. So, if it’s some place (or someone) new, best you avoid saying these:
1. Do not say: “Do whatever you must – just make it start!”
Your mechanic thinks: Score! This woman is clueless, so I can do and charge for any ol’ thing.
Do say: “The car struggles to start. The battery is new, so it must be something else. Will you check and get back to me with a quote?”
Give your mechanic a clear understanding of how the problem started. Not only will you save on unnecessary repair costs, but you will also help him/her troubleshoot faster.
2. Do not say: “Use the cheapest parts you find!”
Your mechanic thinks: Righto, I’ll give you old second-hand stuff that will either damage your car further or won’t last very long. Then you’ll have to come back.
Do say: “Let me know if anything needs to be replaced, so I can call up a few distributors to get the best possible price.”
There are tons of poor-quality parts doing the rounds and problem is that they simply DO NOT last. If your mechanic says he has a 'connection' (some of them are able to get discounts), then be clear about wanting originals. Also, ask him to hold on to the box, so you're guaranteed it's not imitations.
3. Do not say: “Look, I only have R1000 on me...”
Your mechanic thinks: Hmmm...R1000, you say? But all this baby needs is a new – and inexpensive – fuel-pump... Score! I’ll pocket the rest.
Do say: “Could you have a look and send me a quote?”
It may seem like a schlep, but my best advice would be to get quotes from more than one mechanic.
Have you ever been cheated by a mechanic?