What a mechanic is, or is not. (Or, what people [i]seem [/i] to believe).I

I’ll start: People seem to think that to describe a sound (or, noise), a mechanic should instantly know what the problem is.

“People?” Who are these “people?”

I do not judge (or choose) a mechanic by his or her ability to figure out what noise I’m trying to describe.

There are WAY too many possible noises. An infinite number, I would speculate. Why are you focusing on sound (or noise)?

Some people, yes. Not all. A similar situation is when maybe you’re working on a car and a customer asks an automotive related question that you don’t know the answer to. If you just say, “I don’t know.”, you feel like an idiot and the other person may think you’re an idiot, so you come up with your best answer. Later after thinking over the question you maybe realize the right answer, but it takes time. Once at

a Chrysler dealership I worked at I was standing at the parts counter and a guy had what lookedd like a solid state device in his hand. He asked me what the part was. There’s like what, 10,000 parts on a car. I just said I didn’t know and he looked at me like I’d gotten out of a spaceship. I felt like an idiot. But always, no mattter how little a customer or an OP’er knows about cars one should never belittle because they may have an area of expertise that you know nothing about. Hey, it could bbe worse. There’s people that don’t even have a job.

Example #2: Some people (John Doe, or Jane Doe) seem to believe that a car dealer’s mechanics are more capable than independent mechanics. {The word “seem” is a qualifier}.

You’re changing the question. First it was “Should a mechanic be able to identify EVERY sound?” Now it’s, “Are dealer “mechanics” better than independent mechanics?” Start a new post for this one.

Why should you feel like an idiot for giving a customer an honest answer? I would not be unhappy if a mechanic told me he/she did not immediately know the answer to my car’s problem. Sometimes you (or your mechanic) have to do a bit of research/investigation. C’mon, we all know that.

The question is still the same, “What do some people seem to believe a mechanic is?”. Anyone can reply, mechanic, or not.

“Mechanic” is a difficult thing to describe, and I think there will be a multitude of opinions. I’m conflicted in my own opinion. I know lots of “mechanics,” but I’m not sure I’d want some of them to work on my car.

I, myself, am mechanically inclined, and have done many repairs on my own vehicles over the years, but I don’t consider myself a “mechanic.”

I guess I’d say a "mechanic’ is someone who does auto maintenance/repair for a living. Such a person could be good or bad at his/her job, but, by definition, he or she would be a “mechanic.”

You have to be able to not only do a good job, but the customer has to realize you did a good job, too. If you can achieve both, the customer will believe you’re capable whether you work at an independant, chain or dealer. If you hit “home” at the bottom of this page, then click under “find a reccomended mechanic”, you’ll find dealers and independants- my zip code anyawy.

A mechanic is a guy or gal who fixes your car because you either don’t know how or don’t have the time. Just as some people go to the doctor, the computer repair shop, the appliance repair person, etc.

People tend to expect that cars are simple, that all cars are fundamentally the same, and that a mechanic who has been around the block a time or two should have intimate knowledge of the myriad problems that a car is capable of having.

Certainly it’s unrealistic to expect a mechanic to know everything. Now… a mechanic’s bedside manner is open to criticism. Some mechanics take a sort of secretive, “You wouldn’t understand it if I explained it to you, just shut up and let me do my job” sort of approach. Other mechanics play the hero and do the whole, “Yeah, it’s simple, we’ve got it all figured out” angle and that can lead to problems too.

The best mechanics I’ve seen are the ones who tell you what they’re going to do for diagnostics and explain what they’ll do with the results of those diagnostics. These are also the mechanics who will do diagnostics every time, not just the, “Oh, the last no-crank problem on a Volvo turned out to be a neutral safety switch, it must be the same thing on this car” shotgun approach.

Depends, sometimes that perfectly works, sometimes that just irritates me. It’s like having a conversation with animals. They tell me they get hungry but they don’t tell me they had enough.

Interesting question!!

I’ve noticed many folks who post questions on this web site who fail to give the minimal information needed to answer the question - and that’s probably because they don’t know what information is needed - and sometimes they get upset when they don’t an answer because of the missing information.

I’ve personally experienced this in the real world - as well as the virtual world of th Internet. Sometimes you wonder how these folks make it out of bed in the morning given the complexities of dealing with a blanket!!

So I’ve taken to:

  1. Acknowledging that folks don’t always know what information is needed.
  2. Ackowledging that some folks will never give you a compliment.
  3. And I will deal with folks as even handedly as I can - which means if you are a jerk, don’t expect good service!

There is nothing wrong with not knowing something. One of the smartest people who I have known, knew something about almost everything but if he didn’t know, he would cheerfully say: “I don’t know!”

The cause of some sounds can be reliably identified. Doesn’t hurt to ask. The best procedure, if there is doubt, is to get several opinions but even then there is no guarantee that the majority of the answers, if identical, are correct.

I thought that my transmission was failing and so did two transmission mechanics. It turned out to be the exhaust pipe touching a heat shield. Transmission was fine.

I think people who don’t give the appropriate information simply don’t know what’s needed or don’t understand how to articulate it. Their car breaks down or starts making a noise and they simply don’t know any more than that. If they were discussing their own area of expertise they’d probably know exactly what they were talking about.

I have a friend who’s licensed to practice law in ME, MASS, NH, NY, and Florida. He’s a very intelligent fella. Hasn’t a clue about cars.

I know numerous doctorates in various fields of medicine and physics. Some haven’t a clue how many cylinders their cars have, and wouldn’t even know how to find out. One teaches meteorology. We have great discussions about the universe, but I doubt that he could change a tire if he had to.

Even educated people who work in different fields often have totally different jargon, and even totally different meanings for the same terms.

One cannot infer from someone’s inability to describe what’s wrong with their car that they’re not intelligent…only that they don’t know anything about cars. And that’s okay. I don’t go to my cardiologist because he knows cars, I go to him because he knows hearts. I go to my dentist cause he knows teeth. I go to my lawyer because he knows the law. I’d rather they all dedicate themselves to their respective fields.

I just realized that there’s another variable to this discussion. People asking questions have often dealt with the “service manager” (the shop order writer) at a dealership. Many of the people posting have been given bogus information and bogus answers from service writers who know little about cars and care even less. Often they seem to believe that their job is to “snow” the customer.

I had an operating problem with my sliding glass roof. I had this service writer BS guy tell me that the entire roof and windshield was one piece and the whole thing, windshield and all, would have to be conpletely removed and replaced. The only problems with that story were that I had the exploded view drawing of the assembly in my hand at the time, and I’ve been taking cars apart and doing my own repairs and rebuilds for 40 years. I went to another dealership and they took care of the problem via a simple adjustment to the operating cable in about 20 minutes, and charged the warranty account. Guess who got my business when I needed my brakes done?

These BS artists are a tragedy of the business model. But they’re often the source of information that the consumer is working with.

Speaking of noises, my indy impressed my by diagnosing a noise (a failing vacuum pump) from halfway across the parking lot. It’s simply a matter of experience, he’s been working on these specific engines for 30 years and has heard and seen just about every possible failure mode. I doubt that he would even open the hood of a ricer/domestic, but he knows what he knows very well.

Now you know why I get so mad when they end up being right. Noises can be tricky except when they’re obvious; then they can still be tricky.

I know what people don’t seem to think or know about a mechanic- how much money we’ve spent on tools over time. I’ve kept all my reciepts over the years, and recently spent the better part of a weekend sorting them out and adding them up: approximately $30,000. Replacement cost:?. I’m just a guy that works at an hourly rate at a dealership. When I tell people how much I have invested in tools they’re incredulous. Is there any other trade where a journeyman has to spend so much moneey on tools?

Also, some people seem to believe that the shop, or dealership, furnishes the shop-only, or very expensive, or specific-application types of tools and testers! They don’t know, do they?!

Personally I don’t TRUST someone who THINKS they know everything. I’d rather have a honest “I don’t know”…then some spin answer that is totally WRONG.

When I interview Software Engineers…the ones I WON’T hire are the self-proclaimed “Experts”. They are the ones who THINK they have all the answers…And I’ve yet to meet the person who actually DOES have all the answers. Someone who KNOWS they don’t know all the answers is more likely to seek out the correct answer…and someone who is ALWAYS trying to improve. If you THINK you have ALL THE ANSWERS…then why improve.