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Mechanic - what would you do?

I LOVE my mechanic! I have been going to him for over 6-7 years (2-3 cars) and he is always upfront, honest, and great.
However, there is one itty bitty thing that irritates me to no end. Whenever I schedule my car for maintenance (i.e. brake job) - he very rarely (if ever) actually completes the job on time. For example, I scheduled three days in advance to drop off my car last Friday for a brake job. Friday evening came around - he didn’t “have time” to work on my car. So I rescheduled for today. Well I dropped it off at 0700 this morning and it’s now 1500 (quitting time) and he JUST brought my car into the shop bay to work on it! So I’m stuck at work for at least another hour and then I have to fight rush hour traffic.
Am I expecting too much from him? Should I just be grateful that I found an honest mechanic and stop whining?

Tell you mechanic he does great work, but he is not giving your good information regarding when the work will be done and completed. Let him know you expect him to meet his deadlines, so he can either be more honest about when the work will be done or more vague about time frames so your expectations are met.

As much as you seem to love your mechanic, he isn’t managing your expectations. Instead, he is making his problem (a lack of organizational skills) your problem (no car!).

Being upfront and honest should be minimum qualifications, not enough to make you love the guy.

Being unorganized isn’t something you can cure overnight. I suggest you talk to him about living up to his word, and if you can’t work it out, find another upfront and honest mechanic who does what he says he is going to do when he says he is going to do it, or in other words, a mechanic who is a man of his word (or a woman of her word).

I’ve had the same issue with motorcycle mechanics, and it basically boils down to trust. If you can’t trust the guy to be organized, how can you trust him to do right by you when he fixes your car?

There are many mechanics who do GREAT work, but haven’t a clue on how to run a business. I know such a guy…But his wife is very good at running the business aspect. Been doing it that way for years.

Some mechanics want to do the right thing, but haven’t a clue on how to accomplish it.

Time management is a problem for a lot of people and is not limited to mechanics. Sometimes it is difficult to estimate how long a job will take and other times some unrecognized problem arises in trying to complete the job. I’m not a mechanic, but it seems as though any repair job I tackle seems to take three times as long as I had expected it to take.
I spent 15 years doing statistical analyses. Most of the time I could estimate how long it would take to set up the computer run and then write up the results. However, every so often I would hit a snag that would throw my schedule off.

I’m always kinda on the fence about this one. On the one hand, if you tell me my car’s going to be ready tonight, it’d be nice if it were ready. On the other, I don’t want you slapping parts on in a mad dash to get it finished before the deadline.

In your case, I think the mechanic is going a little extreme in the “takes his time to get it right” category. It’s a brake job. That shouldn’t take long. If he’s taking on too many customers per day, then he either needs to stop doing that, or come in early and work through lunch. You shouldn’t have to sit around guessing whether or not you’ll have a car to drive.

If you’ve had seven years of experience with this mechanic and he’s upfront, honest and great, than I’d suggest you get on your knees every evening to thank the almighty and adjust your expectations to fit your experience. It’s possible that he’s got more business than he can handle.

And tell me where he is and the name of his shop. If he’s local he may just have yet another customer. As a matter of fact, I can think of a few friends that might start going there too.

By your description, I’m guessing the guy is also close to where you work, maybe walking distance? If so, the fact that he runs behind may not be the real problem here. If he had called you and told you he could not finish the job by your quitting time and offered you the choice of rescheduling for the next day or waiting, would that have made you happier? If so, you should tell him up front that if he can’t get to it at its scheduled time to give you a call so that you can reschedule.

Does this occur most of the time? A simple brake job on a popular, late model automobile should be a cut and dried job. Have you made it absolutely imperative that the car cannot be left over night? If so, when the shop has work backed up for days it can be a problem. I wouldn’t want to look at a 15:00 deadline if I couldn’t get started until after 13:00. If the shop tears the car down and finds a cracked rotor with no replacement part available that day, what then? Sometimes things just can’t be worked out.

I’m not a mechanic by trade, but I do work on my own cars 99%+ of the time when they need repairing so I know from my own experience many times the amount of time you estimate it will take to do something will take much longer, because of something unexpected. It’s quite possible he’s a great mechanic yet things that are not expected come up with cars in front of you that take longer to diagnose/repair. When working on cars things seldom go as planned. I don’t remember now what I was doing to my car awhile back, but I remember there was something I worked on for hours one afternoon and never could get it right so I stopped for the day and went out first thing the next morning to start again and what I had worked on for hours the day before, I had finished in a matter of minutes that morning. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what had to be done, but for some reason I just couldn’t get it to work out the day before. You also have to consider all cars are different in the way they are put together and sometimes have different troubleshooting techniques, then once you find the problem you have to figure out how to get to all the bolts and nuts, often having to remove other parts to get to the defective part. It probably wasn’t your car that was the problem, but something ahead of you took a lot more time to repair than he expected. I’ve been working on my own cars and sometimes cars of friends or other family members for about 35 years and one thing I’ve learned is not to start on something unless I know I have plenty of time for things that will/may go wrong. I say if you have a good honest mechanic work with him, because they are not easy to find. I have worked on cars for days for friends before and not charged them a penny, but I always tell them upfront if you can’t give me the time I need to repair it and do it right you’re welcome to take it to a mechanic and pay them $75-$100 per hour. I was helping a lady out a few years ago whose husband had just passed away, because she couldn’t afford to pay someone to do all her work, she made the mistake of rushing me one time and from that time on I let her pay a mechanic, plumber, electrician, etc. I probably saved her a couple thousand dollars in just a matter of weeks doing mechanic, plumbing and electrical work, then she decided she was boss. That doesn’t work for me!!! I understand you are paying this mechanic, but it’s not an easy job and anything that can go wrong will.

When I have to have something repaired, I want the best person available. If I have to wait to have the person look at my problem, that doesn’t bother me. If it takes longer than expected, that doesn’t bother me either. I had a snap ring on a synchronizer break on my 1965 Rambler. The dealer did the repair, but the transmisison didn’t seem right. When I went to graduate school with the car, the transmission had problems again. The local service station recommended a shop, to fix the transmission but advised me that I might have to wait. I went to this shop and I did have to wait, but the transmission never shifted better when the job was completed. I had an alignment done at Sears and the job wasn’t right. The same service station recommended an alignment specialist at the International truck dealer, but advised me that there might be some time before I could get it in. The service station manager called me one day and had made arrangements with the specialist. When I got the car back, it had never steered as well. Most recently, I had someone hit the rear bumper panel on the side of my car just 2 months after I bought it. I was advised on a good body shop. I had to wait a couple of weeks, but the job was perfect.
My advice is that when you find someone that does top quality work. stick with them. You may have to wait for a reason.

I dunno. I’m not a mechanic, just a customer. Different places operate differently and you’re not likely to change them. If you like the work, just plan on everything taking twice as long or several days regardless of what he tells you. Then you won’t be disappointed. I’d just make sure he never gets it toward the end of the week so its done by the weekend.

Playing devil’s advocate for a minute, it could be there are a number of reasons why the mechanic may run behind. I’m not condoning this practice if he makes a regular habit of it but there may be legit reasons why it happens; especially if it’s a small shop with 1 or 2 people, etc.

Overloading with work, being called to the phone all of the time, the amount of time relying on suppliers to deliver a part (or tracking it down in person as the case may be), dealing with other customers (many who want to carry on a lengthy conversation without thought given to how this is intruding into the workload), etc, etc.

In the case of the brake job I’d want to know the details as to the delay and whether there was a good reason, or plural, for that delay.
In the mechanic world most things do not go smoothly and it’s been my experience that when a job goes as smoothly as a Rolex watch one then starts wondering what is causing that abnormality. Murphy’s Law is always around to lend a hand. :slight_smile:

I would suggest the OP simply bring this matter up politely to their mechanic and try to find out exactly what is causing these delays. Hopefully the mechanic can iron some of this out when it comes to future repairs.

Since I no longer enjoy grease under the fingernails, I use a mechanic for “serious” work who owns a 2-man, 2-bay shop. This guy is very good, but perhaps too accommodating. He simply takes on more work than he can comfortably do, and I take his estimate of time with a grain of salt. For more routine work such as oil changes/brake work, I use another shop (4 mechanics/4 bays) that I probably wouldn’t use for the “serious” work. At least they keep closer to schedule. Having two shops available may help with scheduling.

Good Morning and thanks for everyone’s comments. I really think it’s a time management thing as I’m sure he’s trying to please all of his customers all at once (I’m in the customer service industry so I get it). it’s just frustrating as he’s by my work and my work is 40 miles from where I live. leaving the car overnite just isn’t an option.

Last Friday he told me he couldn’t get to the car (and as such - didn’t touch it). So when I dropped it off yesterday, I guess I just felt I should be higher up on the list of things to do because of the first no-go.

And yes I’d much rather have him reschedule and reschedule than to slap things together in order to appease me. I actually spent the drive home last night listening for anything odd (tire not bolted on) because I know they rushed to get it done. My problem isn’t so much that he doesn’t get to my car (and this isn’t the first time) - my problem is when he COMMITS to doing it and then makes me wait. For the record, when he finally pulled my car into the bay (1500) - the brake job was done by 1700. AND came in $25.00 under what he quoted me the job would cost.

Anyway - the mechanic is Rolando’s Car Care in Elk Grove Village IL. Rolando is the owner (RJ) and I found him from a co-worker who broke down in front of his shop years ago. Rolando was actually leaving for the night but saw my co-worker, re-opened the shop and helped her that night. He also told her what needed to be fixed now, what could wait, and what wasn’t worth fixing (it was a beater with a heater). I heard that story and have been going to him ever since. I can go on and on about the GREAT things he has done for me over the years (including putting up with my “time” issue) but I’d bore you all to tears…

Thanks for the follow up post. Unfortunately he’s not local to me, but I’m sure your post just rewarded his integrity with more business. While it may make your waits longer, good people should get the business. And he sounds like truely good people.

Sincere best.