So, what do you do when your car needs some love but you don’t want to get taken for a ride? We asked licenced mechanic Mark Sach-Anderson, who’s been in the business for more than 20 years, to give us his tips.
When do you need to see your dealer and when can you take your car into another garage?
The misguided conception is that when you have a brand new vehicle you have to go to the dealership for maintenance. That’s incorrect. This is what I tell my customers: It’s not always convenient to go to your regular garage to get an oil change, I get that. But I would say at least twice a year they should be coming in to get an inspection done at their local licenced mechanic.
At the lube shops, they’re not licenced technicians. A licenced technician is specifically walking through the car and looking at key points. We’re looking at uneven tire wear to indicate that there may be a problem with the suspension. We’re looking at telltale signs for belt wear. We will test drive the vehicle before it’s brought in whereas the lube shops don’t. We will pick up on any abnormalities that may happen over time and you may not notice.
Is there certain kinds of work that people should always see a licenced mechanic for?
Absolutely. Anything to do with suspension, brakes, anything that’s covered under a vehicle’s safety inspection.
But I tell anybody, preventive maintenance is the best way to keep the vehicle for longevity and safety. What I mean by that is that twice a year we look for warning signs that there may be something wrong here. Catching something early saves you from being unsafe or stuck at the side of the road. if they hear an unusual noise, it’s no different than your body, I equate it to being a doctor: if you have a pain in your knee, you go to the doctor and get it checked. it may be nothing or it may be a sign that something’s wrong.
How much should people know about their car before they go into the shop?
I love informed customers and I try to inform them as much as I can. I want them to feel comfortable. As a rule i tell my customers, responsibility of the driver for the vehicle should be to check the tire pressure, they should know how to check their own oil and they should consider a quarter of a tank as empty, and a general walk around of the lighting system. And the rest of it is up to me.
What’s the best way to tell if your mechanic is reputable?
Honestly, word of mouth is probably the best way. You can do searches on the internet for companies, but the majority of my business comes from repeat business and referrals.