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What a Mechanic Wishes You Would Stop Doing

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With Car Care Month coming to a close, we spoke with an automotive technician to get answers to some of your biggest mechanic/car concerns for the upcoming summer driving season, as well as some do’s and don’ts for your car!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.

My name’s Demeny, automotive technician and owner of the Girlington Garage, a full-service automotive repair shop in South Burlington, Vermont.

The most important part of my job is to make sure my customers are happy with the work they’ve had done on their vehicles. I take the time to let them know what is wrong by using simple, non-technical terms to explain what a certain part does and why it’s important to have it fixed.

Are people surprised to see a woman mechanic?

People used to be surprised to see me when I was working for other people. Now that my shop is called Girlington Garage and has a woman on the sign and in our logo, not so much! The biggest surprise nowadays is when I am in my normal clothes away from the shop – people are still very surprised when they find out I am an automotive technician.

What’s one of the craziest mechanical issues you’ve solved? How did you fix the problem?

One of the cars I worked on was having crazy electrical issues. It was affecting the wipers. It was affecting the trunk light. It was causing a lot of really bizarre, unrelated problems. I finally figured out that the rear window defroster lines had worn out in spots and I had to repaint them with copper paint. That took care of it!

What’s something that drivers do to their cars that does the most damage?

I wish that people wouldn’t ignore noises or lights in their cars. I’ve had people tell me, “Oh yeah, I heard that. But I just turned the radio up, then I couldn’t hear it anymore.” They were talking about a wheel bearing noise. Once a wheel bearing gets loose, your whole wheel can come off the car! Drivers should always get warning lights and noises checked out.

How often should drivers change their oil?

It depends on the car and what kind of oil it calls for. Generally, a regular synthetic blend calls for a change every 3,000-4,000 miles whereas a full synthetic only requires a change every 5,000-6,000 miles.

Can you use all-season tires all-year long? What about winter tires?

In states that experience severe weather changes such as summer and winter climate, you need to swap your all-season tires for winter ones when the weather changes. In these states, all-season tires should be run in the spring, summer, and fall seasons then winter tires should be put on for the winter season. The rubber in a winter tire is designed to stay soft in freezing temperatures which allows the tire to conform to the road better while an all-season tire will harden as the temperature drops making it harder to gain traction.

And finally, what are your tips when it comes to finding a good mechanic? What should we look for?

I can’t tell you how to definitively spot a bad mechanic, but I can tell you some things that indicate that the tech you are working with is on their way to being a good one.

  • They take the time to explain to you what is wrong with your vehicle.
  • When you get your car back, they show you the ‘bad’ part they replaced.
  • They send you an accurate, detailed invoice that explains what you had done and why, including the charges in parts and labor.
  • The main takeaway: Clear communication is the best indicator that a shop or a technician is being honest with you.

    Do you have a trustworthy mechanic who services your vehicle? Let us know in the comments!

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