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What You Should Know Before Talking to a Mechanic

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/27/2007 | Auto and Trucks

Know your vehicle! Knowing what you are talking about can go a long way when it comes time to have your car repaired. You are not only better able to explain what the problem is; you are more likely not to be ripped off by a dishonest mechanic. Not to say all mechanics are crooks, but there are those who will take advantage of someone who obviously knows nothing about vehicles. If you do not have a mechanic yet, ask around. Most people, who are happy with their mechanic, will go to that particular one for all their car care needs.

Know your vehicle! You should know the Year, Make, Model and Engine size of your car. Some of this information can be found on the title of your car. The engine size can usually be found right on the engine. There is also a sticker inside the hood. This is the first bit of information a mechanic will ask you. If you can rattle off this info, the mechanic will treat you with a little more respect.

Know your tire size. This information can be found on the side of your tire. There are three sets of numbers, an example is, 205/75/15. Also found on the side of your tire is how much air pressure your tire requires, an example is, 44 psi. Keeping the proper air pressure in your tires is a part of good preventive maintenance. Knowing this information saves a lot of time.

Know your cars fluids. If you have something leaking, knowing what kind of fluid it is can go a long way in diagnosing the problem. A brownish fluid leaking out would likely be an oil leak. Green or orange fluid would show a coolant leak. Reddish colored fluid would be a transmission leak. Look under the hood of your car. This is where your fluids go. Learn how to check them. Read your vehicles manual. This provides you with a wealth of information about your particular car.

Know your smells and sounds. Odors coming from your car tell a lot about what is going on with your vehicle. The smell of burning rubber can show a problem with your brakes or possibly an electrical problem, depending on where the smell is coming from. A sweet smell and steam coming from under the hood shows you probably have a coolant leak. A smell of sulfur or rotten eggs is likely to be an exhaust problem. Knowing the type of smells from your vehicle and where they are coming from can help diagnoses a problem.

Know the sound of your vehicle. As you drive it each day, you get to know the sound of your car. So when a strange sound pops up you know you may have a problem. Is it a rattle, a whine, a squeal, a knock? Where is it coming from? The front, back, underneath, on the left, right? Does it happen when you turn a corner, when braking, at a certain speed? This information can be a great help in diagnosing your vehicles problem.

Make it your mission to learn as much about your vehicle as you can. Knowledge is Power! And besides, it can keep you from getting ripped off. Learn how to care for the basics, like checking your fluids, tire pressure, regular oil changes, and be sure to give it a tune up when due. Following a preventive maintenance plan will help keep your vehicle out of the repair shop. When you do have to call a mechanic, having this information will be a big help to him by saving him diagnostic time. This by the way can end up saving you money. If you ever have doubts about what a mechanic has told you, get a second opinion. After all, no one knows your vehicle, like you do.