You may have seen a few recent “Ask a Mechanic” blog posts, but who is this mechanic, and what makes him qualified to give car advice to people on the internet?
My boyfriend Tony has been a mechanic for 13 years, and is constantly coming home with wild stories of what cars he encountered that day. A few months ago after hearing people complain about their cars not running right after sitting during quarantine, and hearing Tony give the same advice time and time again, I decided to put his information together in a blog post (that you can read here). Thus, “Ask a Mechanic” was born! I’m lucky enough to hear firsthand all the top tips on how to keep your car running smoother longer, and I’m kind enough to share that information with all of you (with Tony’s permission)! I asked Tony a few questions about his history as a mechanic, how he got started, and what car myths he wishes people would stop believing. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What’s your mechanic history?
A: I started my mechanic life attending the UTI (Universal Technical Institute) training school. During that time I worked as a detailer at Nissan Scottsdale, and as a shop helper at a small independent BMW shop. From there I started as a light duty tech at a local Volkswagen dealership, and have been there ever since. 13 years with VW, going through training currently 2 classes away from getting my Master Tech. I have tried the role of service writer as well.
Q: What’s your mechanic horror story?
A: 3 or 4 months on the job and the shop manager wanted to see what I had in me. He gave me a cylinder head job on a V6 Passat, which had bent valves due to a stretched timing chain. Everything was going smoothly, I got the timing belt sorted out and new valves installed in the head. We didn’t have a parts cleaner so I had to clean the cylinder manually. After putting the cylinder head back on and getting everything buttoned up, it started running very poorly on the test drive. I pulled back in and found a valve had dropped into the cylinder. A piece of debris had lodged between the valve and the cylinder head surface and bent the valve which hit the top of the piston and broke off. Lesson learned, clean the items better next time! Never had that happen again. It didn’t phase the shop manager as he gave me an engine job the same month and that went perfectly smooth.
Q: What myth do you wish people would stop believing?
A: That the dealership rips people off, is not trust worthy, and costs too much money. I will admit we have our bad apples, however there are more people that care than don’t. If that is something that concerns you, request to have a veteran tech work on your car. As far as cost, a lot of times we end up fixing mistakes made by cheaper, small or independent shops. This will cost you more in the long run than just having the right parts installed and the right repair done the first time.
Q: What advice do you wish more people would take?
A: Listen to the people who know your car. I am trained in every component of your vehicle, and it’s my job to know what your car should and should not do or sound like. Trust the process. When you bring your car in for service, try not to get upset that your car needs work. All things need work and upkeep to stay running smoothly (that’s why it’s called maintenance).
Q: What what made you want to be a mechanic?
A: Passion for cars and what makes them work. I’ve always found it fascinating to see what makes things function, what parts they have and how they are put together. I was always was taking things apart as a child, and cars have always distracted me through life and still do to this day! I think it’s this passion that makes me better at what I do. I don’t work on cars without care. I treat repairs and the way I do the work as I would my own vehicle, with attention to detail and care.
Q: What’s the best way to keep your car running well longer?
A: Maintain it. Monitor your service intervals, whether it’s by time or miles. If you drive your vehicle harder than others do, I recommend doing things more frequently. Pay attention to brake wear and tire wear. If things are starting to get close it never hurts to get them taken care of sooner than later. More times than not if left to go to the very end of the life cycle it’s likely to cause other problems in that system. That will just lead to more costly repairs down the road.
Do you have a question about cars, maintenance, or the service process? Let me know in the comments and I’ll ask the expert!