For a few weeks now, your car’s been making a weird noise when you brake. (OK, so that’s my car, but stay with me). It’s getting worse and you can no longer ignore it. Because, you know, brakes are important. But that means taking her to a mechanic.
If those last five words strike fear into your usually fearless, independent heart, you’re not alone.
Keep reading for our quick and easy car servicing checklist, so you can get what you want and what you paid for!
Why going to the mechanics worries us so much
Car servicing is really important.
As any good car servicing guide will tell you, cars are complex machines with literally thousands of moving parts. And sometimes those parts need replacing, repairing or just some TLC. Sometimes all it takes is some car maintenance tips to learn to DIY what’s needed, but other fixes need a mechanic.
Did you know, as of 31 January 2020, there are 19.8 million registered motor vehicles in Australia? And our recent consumer research revealed that 46% of Australian car insurance policyholders worry about mechanics.
Looking at the females respondents alone, we found 50% admitted yes, this is a major concern. When we asked for specifics, the top three reasons given were:
- I worry about being ripped off for the repair or service
- I worry about being upsold repairs or maintenance my car doesn’t need
- I worry about the mechanic not doing a good job.
Aussies are fairly committed to car servicing, with only 10% of us either never servicing or delaying servicing our cars, so fear of the mechanic is a big problem.
What can we do about it?
Find a mechanic you trust
If you’re feeling anxious about taking your car to the mechanic, ask yourself why. Is it just a general lack of knowledge, or do you feel like your mechanic ‘can see you coming’ and is taking advantage?
Here’s a few ways to help identify some dodgy mechanic red flags. They include asking family and friends for recommendations. Checking Google reviews. Calling in to have a chat and let your instincts say yay or nay.
How often should you service your car?
As rough rule, most cars should be serviced at least once a year. For the average driver, that’s around every 10-15,000 kilometres, but this will vary between cars and manufacturers.
If your car is older than 5 years old, then it’s a good idea to increase the frequency of your services and book it in every 6 months.
As well as changing basic things like oil, a mechanic can check if any other parts have wear and tear or if there’s something else wrong with your car.
Perhaps you could schedule your car’s regular service at the same time your car insurance is up for renewal? It keeps it all happening at the same time. Pretty snazzy idea, huh?
Car servicing guide: Know your services
Don’t know your air filter from your spark plugs? Yeah, we get it.
So, we’ve put together two checklists. A minor car service checklist and a major car service checklist. This can help to make sure you’re not getting ripped off. They’ll also help ensure you’re getting the service you need and the one you pay for.
Caveat: these lists are not exhaustive. So, we suggest you also do some Googling about your car and the types of regular serving it needs.
Minor car servicing checklist
This will usually include:
- Changing the engine oil and oil filter
- Checking the air and fuel filter
- Inspecting brakes, fluids, belts and hoses
- Checking tyres and rotating (if needed)
- Testing the battery
Major car servicing checklist
This should include the above, and any or all of the following:
- Checking the overall health of your car engine
- Lights (front, rear and blinkers)
- Replacing spark plugs
- Testing the air conditioner
- Coolant and transmission
- Brake fluid and brakes
- Wheel alignment
- Windscreen wipers
- Suspension and steering
- Tuning (if needed)
Questions to ask your mechanic
The exact questions you ask your mechanic will depend on why you’re there. However, any good mechanic will welcome questions and be happy to give straightforward answers. Here’s a few to get you started:
How much will it cost?
If the mechanic starts umming and ahhing or tells you some baloney about having to look first (especially for a minor service), say thank you and exit stage left.
What are my repair options?
Chances are, you’ve more than one repair option. You just have to ask. If you’re being pushed towards the one, more expensive, option, walk away.
Can I see the parts?
If not, why?
If they removed and replaced them, where’s the old part? Parts don’t simply disappear.
If they can’t show you, fish a glove from your handbag, slap the mechanic lightly across the cheek and challenge them to a duel at dawn!
Seriously though, seeing the old part and having them explain it to you helps you upskill your car knowledge.
Should they be unable to produce said part, you should wonder, quite loudly, why you’re being charged for a part they can’t show you.
What, exactly, is wrong with my car?
Unless you’re awash with cash, you need to keep a close eye on car servicing costs. Your mechanic should be able to give you a complete list of what’s wrong, what needs to be fixed and how much that’ll cost you.
Get up close and personal with your car
You paid a lot for your car so why not take care of her properly.
Like any new relationship, you’ll both have to work at it. So, read up and learn what she likes, dislikes and the best way to care for her.
In return, she’ll see you safely home after work or play, will take you on fabulous adventures and will never judge when as you sing along to your favourite tunes.
At PD Insurance, we know getting your car serviced well can feel like a dark art. If you’ve been stung, you feel for you and hope this car servicing checklist has helped for next time.
Have a question? Just contact us and we’ll run through everything with you; it’s never too much trouble.
Over to you – Car servicing checklist
Have you had a bad experience with a mechanic? What did you learn? Please share, so we can help others avoid those pesky servicing pitfalls.