Today’s question comes from Nadine Drip, from Farradey Point, New Mexico. Nadine asks, “Every time I take my car to be serviced, I get the feeling I’m being robbed blind by this guy. Is there a surefire way to know if your car mechanic is honest?”
Nadine, the only surefire solution for knowing for certain that your car mechanic is honest is one that’s bittersweet. Because in my book, to truly find out if your mechanic is an honest man you’d have to be standing right next to him at the Pearly Gates so you can see which end of his ticket gets punched after Saint Peter gets done checking his story against what’s in the ledger. Short of that, there’s no other way to know definitively, but there are some steps you can take to hedge your bets while still an inhabitant of this pot holed laced rock we call the planet Earth and car mechanics call God’s ATM.
As I write this, my car happens to be in the shop. My wife was driving it last week and when she came through the front door she told me there was some sort of screeching noise coming out of the front somewhere. When I asked her how long she had been hearing the noise, she said she didn’t know for sure as she had switched over to NPR six weeks ago and with all that chit chat, the outside world couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I took the car to my mechanic and found out what was wrong with it. My car had an $800 problem that could be fixed by paying $800. As much as I dislike auto mechanics, I do respect their appreciation for symmetry.
So if you can’t prove honesty, how can you persuade your mechanic to do right by you? Here are a few suggestions.
Flatter you mechanic buy telling him that of all the automobile experts you’ve gone to, he’s the only one you haven’t eviscerated yet on Angie’s List.
Ask the mechanic if he would lower his price if you paid in cash and if he says yes, ask him if he would lower it even further if you paid in cash and pretended you didn’t work for the Internal Revenue Service.
Before you drop your car off for repair, cut up a few onions to stimulate your tear ducts and when the mechanic asks is you are all right, look him straight in the eyes and say, “Everybody thinks being married to a member of the Mafia is all peaches and cream.”
If none of these tactics works, I’m afraid you’ve come up against a hard case and I would suggest you either take your car somewhere else or switch to NPR and keep the windows rolled up like the Mrs.