Sunday, May 26, 2024

Is your mechanic scamming you? Why you should visit the garage during service

Co-Op post

When it comes to car maintenance and repairs, we need not explain why this can be a very costly endeavour. A car has the potential to make or break your finances.

Based on current statistics and ‘reviews’ of some Kenyan auto-repair shops, it’s clear that most mechanics’ reputation precedes them.

While it would be unfair to dish out a blanket condemnation, an objective examination of the characteristics of most of these professionals shows there is some truth behind the allegations.

A huge chunk of novice car owners will tell you a story of when they once took their car to the mechanic for a light regular service as a formality. However, once they left the vehicle to their ‘trusty’ mechanics, things changed.

They bat their eyelids under the hood, and boy oh boy, problems begin flowing. Your car which ran perfectly fine before now has some strange noises and needs an emergency operation that could be as expensive as the hot cake 50 X 100 plots in Ruiru.

When taking your car for service, it’s important to exercise extra caution. It’s often wise to allocate enough time when bringing your vehicle to the mechanic.

This could be as little as one hour, allowing you to observe the servicing process closely. I don’t mean crowding the mechanic’s space, but rather, by periodically glancing over his shoulder to dispel any ‘smart ideas’.

Furthermore, by being present, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn a thing or two about cars that you may not have known before.

In this article, we examine how being hawk-eyed at the garage can help you save money and, in the long run, prevent you from financial dents inside your wallet.

1. Learn the language

It’s important to note that not all mechanics are out to deceive you. However, the majority of those who engage in fraudulent activities often rely on the limited knowledge that car owners have about vehicles.

Alluding to the popular Hosea 4:6 verse, but now from a financial standpoint, your bank balance will perish due to a lack of car knowledge.

The game played mechanics is very simple. They use technical jargon, parts you’ve never heard of before, such as MAF sensors, camshaft bearings, ball joints etc. (Quick fact: there are almost 30,000 parts under the hood. How many can you name)

This is in a bid to turn the client’s Sh. 5,000 budget to Sh. 100,000 or more. Their strategy also carries a gambling edge to it. The mechanics bet that you don’t know the cost of these specific parts.

For instance, if you inquire about the cost of spark plugs for your vehicle, they will know that, like a fish, you’ve taken the bait. They will proceed to slap an exorbitant price for that specific part.

With an internet connection, one could have googled the price of this part but instead chose against it because it was not in their interest. Hosea 4:6?

All mechanics have a secret, and most car owners overlook this aspect. Just like any other profession, these individuals in greasy overalls and hands are businessmen at heart. They are out there to hustle and earn money and profits.

For this reason, they will always be driven by their targets to ensure the survival of their business in the long run. These professionals are as sharp as Swiss knives when it comes to extracting more from a customer’s pocket.

Can you fault them?

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2. Seek referrals as much as possible

This forms a good starting point in your quest to steer clear of shrewd mechanics who may want to jeopardize your vehicle and finances.

If you own a Toyota vehicle, chances are high that you might have a friend who knows someone else with the same type of vehicle. Connect with them to hear about their experiences and gather recommendations for mechanics.

There are excellent mechanics in the city whose main selling point is the quality and cleanliness of their work. They rely on referrals and customer retention to attract and get their businesses afloat.

In today’s world, social media has made it easier for us. At will, you can join groups of people who own similar car models as you. Members share their experiences, including visits to the garage.

Get in touch and you will access verified and credible information as well as referrals.

3. Know your car, in & out

Not everyone is a car enthusiast who would be interested in technical terms like RPM, Brake Horsepower, Torque, Power Output ratios, and the like.

However, it is important to have basic details about your car at your fingertips, such as potential problems it can have.

For example, if it’s a diesel, do you know about the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)? If you’re driving a turbocharged/supercharged car, have you experienced any history of carbon buildup before?

There are plenty of resources available, including millions of YouTube videos and blogs, that can help you learn more about such nitty-gritty problems your car may face.

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With this knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to recognize and counter any attempts by mechanics to deceive you technically.

4. Cheap is expensive

While the local makeshift garage in your neighbourhood may seem like a convenient and cost-effective option for car servicing, be sure to exercise extreme caution.

It would be more advisable to have your vehicle serviced at brand service centres rather than leaving it unattended at makeshift garages.

These brand centres may seem expensive at first but upon closer examination and a detailed cost-benefit analysis, they are your best bet for long-term value.

Brand service centres employ mechanics who are extremely well-trained and accountable for their work. Additionally, installations of new parts or replacements often come with warranties.

Bottom line

Do not leave your vehicle at the garage unattended. Your vehicle’s lifespan and your wallet’s health greatly depend on your presence at the mechanics.

Find the right balance to get the best value for money. The best defence against being duped by cunning mechanics is to have a solid understanding of your car—how it should feel when driving, its basic functions, and more.

It may not be a fun learning experience, but the potential upsides are incomparable to all other options you have.

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