Article by Justin Pritchard

When folks take their kids to the doctor for a checkup or tune-up, extra care is often taken to ensure said kids are clean, tidy, nicely dressed, presentable, and on their best behaviour. After all, the doctor is a special person, and a visit to him or her is a special thing. For many, a visit to the doctor’s office is something to get prepared for. After all, the Doctor is a smart, all-knowing, specialized sort of being, and their time, services and opinions are very important.

Mechanics are doctors, too. They work in steel, bolts, springs, fluids and calipers, mostly, not tissues and bacteria and cells and viruses. In the same way that a visit to the doctor is an event to be prepared for, a visit to your mechanic holds similar importance.

Thing is, daily, across the country, people bring their cars, trucks, vans and crossovers to their mechanics with little to no preparation, making said mechanic’s job more difficult, less pleasant, and more stressful. You wouldn’t tick off your doctor, and you don’t want to tick off your mechanic, either. Maybe being a better customer is a great New Year’s resolution?

So, with that, here’s a list of five things you’re doing that are making your mechanic angry, things you should aim to avoid doing from here on out.

Making it Rain:
Would you take your kids to the doctor after they just had a play in the mud and become wet and soggy? Or if they’d leave a puddle on the floor in the waiting room? Probably not – but every day, countless people do a similar thing to their mechanic. Few things ruin his day more than working beneath a car that’s dripping muddy, salty water, dirt, or, heaven forbid, fresh oil-spray treatment all over the floor of their shop, and all over their clothes, skin, safety glasses and face.

Mechanics need to get up close and personal with parts of your car you’ll probably never see, and bringing your ride in while it’s a drippy, disgusting mess is the number one way to tick them off. Solution? If possible, schedule the application of this year’s oil-spray treatment for after your tune-up or transmission fluid flush, and if you’ve recently been off-roading in your truck, get to the coin car wash and clean the underside as best you can. Your mechanic will thank you.

Running on Empty: There are numerous reasons you shouldn’t travel with a near-empty fuel tank, and here’s another one: your mechanic might need to drive your ride. Numerous repair and replacement jobs require a road test, which allows your mechanic to feel and listen for remaining signs of trouble after the job’s done. If your empty light is on and your remaining fuel range is two kilometres, that road test is likely going to be cut short, if it’s possible at all. If your ride is running on empty, be sure to fill it up before taking it in.

Going Nuts with Locking Nuts: The thing about locking wheel nuts is that they’re designed to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove without a special key. A tiny, little, very easy-to-lose special locking wheel-nut unlocking key that you’ll forget about 47 seconds after installing that baller set of twenty-twos on your Monte Carlo. Your new dubs probably won’t get stolen, but if you haven’t got the key, your mechanic probably won’t be able to get them off, either. Brake job?  Switch to winter rubber? Change a strut? Forget about it. With the wheels locked onto the car, none of these is possible.

Does your ride have locking wheel nuts? Do you have the key to said wheel nuts? If answered ‘yes’ to both, proceed to the shop. If you have locking nuts and no key, prepare to make your mechanic curse, swear, and in all likelihood either be unable to complete the job, or spend precious time removing the locking-nuts by hammering on a too-small socket and hoping they’ll come off. This will destroy the wheel-nuts in the process, and make your mechanic invent new swear words.

Not Bringing Coffee: Mechanics run almost solely on double-double, and during peak seasons, can consume a dozen or more every day. Not bringing your mechanic a coffee won’t tick him off, but bringing him one will create warm fuzzies, and a bond between you, him, and your ride – and that’s not a bad thing.

Assuming Telepathy: Mechanics can change the heck out of your brake pads, front control-arm bushings and rad fluid, but they typically can’t read minds. So, if you’re dropping off your ride after hours and tossing the keys into the after-hours drop-off slot, include a note with your name, contact information, and what you think seems to be the matter with your ride, would you? Dropping off the car, and the keys, and nothing else is a great way to wind up coming back to find your car exactly where, and how, you left it.

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