Having spent a fair bit of time in workshops I’ve made all the mistakes on this list. Here are the five things your mechanic hates.

Number One: Bringing in a filthy vehicle

Ford Ranger suspension
So clean you could eat off it, mechanics like this (and getting a chance to eat)

If you hit every bog hole in the Blue Mountains on the weekend, and have your Lux/Patrol/Cruiser etc booked in for a brake job on Monday, please clean the thing before bringing it into a workshop. In fact, many workshops will charge a cleaning fee of a few $$$, which to be honest, I think is absolutely fair enough. Mud gets everywhere, so time will have to be spent preparing the area getting repaired to avoid contaminants ruining the good work of your friendly spanner twirler. And considering how immaculate many workshops are these days, the last thing mechanical staff want is to mop up half of the Zig Zag Railway, when they could be doing jobs that, you know, actually make money (funny that). Clean your damn car, it will cost you like $6 at a carwash. Which brings me to…   

Number Two: Not letting them eat…

This sounds so simple, but it’s huge – and applies to many other professions. Mechanics and workshop staff work long and hard hours. They have to be there in the morning to see you in and are there in the evening to let you pick your vehicle up. Think about your own morning ritual, a cup of coffee whilst reading the news, nice relaxing way to ease into the brutal day ahead. Mmm. 

Workshop staff don’t have this luxury, they don’t usually eat until a food van brings them a $7 donut and burnt coffee between the hours of 7am and sometime before closing time. They’re opening the shop, with someone on the phone and another customer at the door waiting before the lights are even on. 

What I’m saying is if you are popping in with an inquiry, or are after a quote, and see the staff are eating lunch, come back in 10 minutes. Go outside and call your mum, she’ll appreciate it. 

The staff won’t say anything, naturally, and will help with your enquiry (because they are professionals damn it), but I guarantee they will have so much more respect for you if you acknowledge them as a normal human, having possibly the only bit of quiet they’ve had all day. It’s basic manners. And who knows, your invoice could reflect that with a discount for being a normal human being yourself. The squeaky wheel doesn’t always deserve the grease. Anyway, while I’ve got you, please stop…

Number Three: Hanging out at the shop

It’s nice to have visitors when you are quiet in a workshop, but when you are busy there’s literally nothing worse. Would you go to a hospital and hang out with the nurses just for something to do? No, because you aren’t a creep. And it would be weird. It would be a waste of time, and best case you’d only get in their way for a brief moment before you realised your ribs had been broken by a former rugby player with a fresh new security license. 

If you were suffering from a mild gunshot wound, one of those pesky heart attacks or a recurring itch downstairs, you should be chatting with the nursing staff. You are at the right place at the right time, a wise decision. What I’m saying is you won’t get a discount if you hang out at the workshop like a sad hood rat, unless you are dropping off beer, lunch, a puppy, money or asking for more work to be done to your vehicle. Maybe consider adopting a puppy if you are so lonely. And another thing…

Number Four: Having a crack at it yourself

You know how building Ikea furniture is a bit of a pain in the arse? Well, try doing it when the kit has been half assembled, incorrectly, with the instructions lost. No fun at all. And this is why you will often hear a mechanic say “if you don’t know what you are doing, don’t do it.” While I personally love a DIY task and I’m not afraid to have a crack at most things, and I actively encourage you to play with your own vehicle to gain knowledge, I’ve been making bad decisions long enough to know it will save you time and money tapping out and having the job done right the first time. Science. 

working on your vehicle at home
It’s nearly done, just needs a few things. Shouldn’t be more than $100, right?

If you do attempt a task, screw it up, and ask your mechanic to fix the mess… expect to pay accordingly and use it as an opportunity to learn. Speaking of saving money…

Number Five: I can get it cheaper online

Quotes take time to prepare. But before you even get to the quote stage, you, the potential customer, will be asking questions and leaning on the years of expertise of your chosen mechanic to reach the solution you are seeking. All that takes time. And time is money after all. Never ask for a quote unless you are genuinely serious about the job, and never then tell that person you can get it cheaper on-line. That might be the case, but it’s the definition of a slap-to-the-face. Better to say thanks for your time, but you’ve gone with another option, that’s totally fine. I mean, the reason you get a quote is to compare apples with apples from other suppliers and not get ripped off. And that’s what I like about you, friend. 

Hmm, but it looked like a genuine part…

But if you then go and buy a similar looking cheaper product on-line, and have issues with it or screw up the installation, do not take it to the shop who gave you that first quote. We all like to save a buck, but there’s a right and wrong way to go about it. And laughter in one’s face can often offend. 

You are paying for the knowledge and experience more than the price of the product. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better price though, or a deal as most shops will be happy to work with you. Communication (and beer – or puppies) is key to a good time for all.

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I’ve been working in off-road and lifestyle media for 17 years now, including as Editor of various titles (my mum was so proud), with work published in the majority of mainstream magazines before the internet gobbled most of them up. Now I’m here, a dark corner of the internet, hoping to help you find the latest useful products, quality tips gained over the years of making mistakes for you, and absolutely having a laugh along the way. I like Suzuki 4WDs, Gibson guitars, dogs and having a beer around a campfire. The good stuff basically.

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