Crazy auto-mechanic experiences usually begin with a blinking warning light on the dashboard. Reading these stories may provide a guiding light to those who find themselves in similar circumstances. Need a gift for Fathers’ Day? Check out GOFAR – It’s like having a mechanic in his pocket! Did You Check the Engine Light? There are few warning lights as emotionally charged as the check engine light. Go directly to the mechanic; do not pass go, do not collect $200. When a customer came into the garage with an engine problem, this mechanic saw that the check engine light wasn’t on. He ran it through the Vehicle Scanner and found a sensor problem. Expecting a burned out bulb, he discovered that the bulb was actually disconnected from the dashboard. Apparently, the customer previously visited a mechanic who thought the best way to clear the indicator was cutting the connection altogether. Car warning lights ARE important! No Money, No Brakes Imagine the brakes going out and needing $600 to get them fixed. At the behest of her sceptical boyfriend, the owner decided to get a second opinion. She went to retrieve her Mazda Miata, which by then was being held hostage by the garage. Her grandmother, who was more inclined to trust the mechanics, left it there for them ‘to fix’. The owner had to take it back by force. A second opinion revealed that the car only needed brake-fluid. $1,000 for Absolutely Nothing It is easy to take advantage of someone who doesn’t know their rights (or is too scared to enforce it). This next crazy experience happened to a lady who left her Honda Hatchback at the local auto mechanic for repairs. The next day, nothing had been done, and a smelly car and $1,000 bill were staring her in the face. The manager was eternally ‘out of the office’ so she couldn’t even lodge a complaint. It wasn’t until she threatened to write a scathing letter to head office (which she ended up doing anyway), that the red carpet treatment was rolled out for her and she got the quality of service she had come for in the first place. A Coupon from a Mechanic This experience goes back to 1975 New York, starring a 1966 Buick Sedan. It was spring and the owner wanted to get her winter tyres removed. Her son-in-law took it down to the local garage for her as their regular mechanic was unavailable. When they returned from the neighbouring mall an hour later, the car was still on the lift, snow tyres still on. They were told that the car needed new ball joints. Peculiar, since the car was fitted with new ball joints less than a month earlier. The service manager was summoned. Ten minutes later, they drove out of that garage with brand new tyres and a coupon for four free oil changes. ‘New’ Alternator When the car doesn’t start, the first thing we worry about is the battery. This happens to millions of people every day. The procedure is to get your car towed and check on it after your daily grind. The car owner, an amateur car mechanic, did just that. When he got off work and went back to the garage, he was informed that the alternator was causing the battery failure and that both needed to be replaced. He decided to do a little test just to be sure. After all, his alternator was barely a year old. He left the car at the garage for one night so he could go home and ‘think about it.’ Before he left, however, he secretly scratched his initials on the alternator. The next day, he gave the green light for the mechanic to begin repairs after which he insisted on seeing the ‘new’ alternator. There it was, clean and shiny, with his initials still on it. Caught red-handed, the mechanic provided all services, new battery, labour and all, free of charge. Replace the Power Steering System? A leak in a car’s power steering system sounds like an expensive problem, doesn’t it? A car mechanic quoted a 2004 Honda Accord owner $2,200 to replace the system. Intimidated by the hefty bill, he did a little research and found a service bulletin put up by Honda about the same problem. It was a vacuum leak that was solved by a 15-cent washer. The garage was suggesting the financial equivalent of shooting a fly with a cannonball. A Cheap Fuse Power windows get stuck all the time, as they did for this next car owner. She had a beautiful, white Lincoln Continental Mark IV. Right off the bat, the car mechanic wanted $500 to remove the door and inspect the problem. Her great-nephew asked about the fuse – the mechanic said there was no need. A 50-cent fuse ended up fixing everything. No mechanics were spared in the aftermath of her fury. Coolant Fountain Steam billowing up from beneath the hood of a car is cause for concern. When the mechanic inspected the car and found nothing out of the ordinary, he filled it with coolant and sent it on its way. A few metres down the road, a giant fountain of coolant exploded from the hood. The mechanic replaced the coolant hose and did a thorough check. The same thing happened again, with an even more magnificent eruption. This time the hose was completely gone. Both car owner and mechanic were at a loss. No leaks. Good pressure and circulation. What could be the problem? After a lengthy inspection, the cause of the problem became clear. The ridge that clamps down on the coolant wasn’t there any more. The mechanic deduced that the coolant hose had been loosened over time, held together by debris. Excellent Service The engineer’s car began losing power every now and then on the highway. When he went to the mechanic to get the codes of the engine light checked, the car would act completely normal. This happened several times. The mechanics replicated the conditions and ran all the tests they could. It never once malfunctioned on them. Finally, they sent the engineer away with a code reader in case it happened again. This time he was able to read the code. It was a sensor problem. They replaced it and also installed a new timing belt and water pump. The engineer was so impressed by the excellent service that he is often tempted to drive the six hours whenever he has car trouble. A Perfect Deal When his Ford Focus started overheating on the road, this Dad stopped to check under the hood. He drove a little bit at a time, stopping frequently to let it cool, until he got to the nearest mechanic. He was told that his engine was dead and needed a replacement. It would cost $6,000. Unconvinced, he took the car to a trusted mechanic who managed to fix the problem within two hours. It was a faulty thermostat and only cost $200. Dad made a deal with his son: if he paid for the repairs, he could have the Ford Focus. Son was delighted and Dad had planned on buying a new car anyway. All’s well that ends well. How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off At The Mechanic Make sure the garage has a Vehicle Scanner to help identify the problem. Get an experienced mechanic, preferably through referral. Get a second, third and even fourth opinion if you have to. Know your rights and enforce them. Do your research. An experienced, professional mechanic does two things really well: identifying the problem and repairing it. The first part is where most of the problems begin, most of which would be solved if the car had an OBD2 device. A good one like GOFAR can identify and explain 300+ common car fault codes in plain English right on your phone, saving precious time, effort and money. Don’t wait for disaster to strike. Protect yourself and stay one step ahead of dodgy mechanics. Get pricing on GOFAR today.