Those of us fortunate enough to own a personal or family car find that the feeling of gratitude quickly turns into one of misfortune when it is time for a visit to the mechanic.

Be it a regular scheduled appointment or an impromptu visit to the car doctor, there are some things you are unlikely to hear from the professionals. Tilt the balance of power in your favour by being aware of these simple tips from automobile industry experts. Who knows, these could save you a tidy sum and, more importantly, a bout of unnecessary heartache!

1. “Sure, Get a Second Opinion and Make Sure You're Comfortable Before You Commit to the Repairs” 

Many of us adopt the prudent practice of getting a second opinion when issued a diagnosis by a medical practitioner. On a similar note, hearing an impartial second opinion from another mechanic can verify the problems with your car, if any.

An honest mechanic offering a fair price for a job that needs to be done would be happy for you to get a second opinion confirming his diagnosis. The next time you’re visiting a mechanic, let him know that you would like to have the car checked out by another shop before committing to any repairs. His or her reaction to your statement will tell you volumes about their disposition, placing you in a better position to get it checked out first.

2. “Have You Already Done a Diagnostics Check on Your Car?"

There are many over-the-shelf diagnostics tools easily available online that will allow you to do a quick automobile health check without having to visit a mechanic. As most of our cars’ internal sensors have been electronic since the late 1990s, a bluetooth diagnostic tool like the Plex Kiwi 3 or the Craven OBDII Connector will help with early identification of the reasons behind that pesky “check engine” light. These devices can be easily connected to smartphones, giving you a round-the-clock status report on your car.

In addition to staying informed, ramp up the safety rating of your drive by adopting these simple habits as well!

Together, this added knowledge will empower you to make an informed decision following any advice your mechanic may have for you. A mechanic who dismisses these results and claims to have ‘better’ advice for you may be attempting to sell you some “hidden” repairs, so look out for this red flag! 

3. “These Tyres Were Made More Than Six Years Ago, They Are Not Safe for Use.”

The average lifespan for most tyres is about six - eight years with regular road use. Signs that you need to replace your tyres include visibly worn out treads or a slight vibration of the steering wheel while driving. If you are in the market for new tyres, be sure to check the manufacture date before making a purchase.

Tires have a lifespan of five to seven years from date of manufacture, even if they have never been used. When kept in storage, the rubber ages, the oils dry out, and the rubber loses flexibility. As the tyre’s ability to mould itself around the texture of the road is necessary for good grip, a lack of flexibility means the tyre will not maintain optimum traction when driving. This is unsafe and may require a subsequent change of tyres soon after.

Note: While tread depth is a convenient visual indicator of a worn tire, a deep tread on a “new” tyre should not be considered as the sole deciding factor; as treads do not contribute to grip except in wet conditions. Remember: no flex, no grip.

Given the desire to make a sale and reduce their in-store stock, mechanics may attempt to sell you older tyres at a lower price. Remember to check the manufacture date and make an informed decision!

4. "Here Are the Old Parts That I've Just Replaced" 

Before commencing repairs on your car, remember to ask your mechanic to place your old, worn out car parts in the box that comes with the new parts. This demonstrates that you are keen to have a look at these parts yourself, or opens up the possibility of a third party taking a look at the parts that have been removed from the car.

Mechanics are then encouraged to only replace parts that do need to be changed, reducing unnecessary repairs and additional costs. Those who are not keen to hand your old parts to you should be regarded with caution; they are likely to be inflating your list of problems to rack up a higher repair bill.

While your mechanic is unlikely to say the phrases listed above in an effort to maximise his revenue, being aware of these issues could save you hundreds of dollars each year! Remember to pre-empt your mechanic at your next “check-up”, and watch the difference it makes! 

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