Going to the mechanic is never a fun time.  Not only is it expensive, but it can be hard to communicate what you think is happening with your vehicle.  By taking a few notes about your car you can help speed up the process of the mechanic finding and fixing the problem, saving you time and money.

 

Location:

It’s helpful to try to figure out the location of the problem.  Most of the time, you can determine this by listening to sounds that are abnormal.  If you can pinpoint the sound and say “the front driver’s side part of the engine” instead of “it’s making a funny sound” you will be able to assist the mechanic in knowing where to look.

 

Problem:

Going with location, it helps to let them know what you think is going wrong.  Notice the sound, smell, feel and looks of the problem area.  Mechanics are tipped off with an accurate description of sounds pretty well.  For instance, a screech, squeal, scratch, grind and pop are all indications of different issues.  Be able to tell them what you think is going on.  Bonus points for reenacting the sound for them.  They typically get a good laugh out of a funny sound replicated.  Smells also help.  Typically you can tell the difference between the smells of burning oil, rubber or gas.  The feel of a car may change with a damaged part, so give them your best description of what is going wrong there (more on this in the next point).  If something looks wrong, that’s a good indicator that something is wrong!  You can notice if steam or smoke is coming out from the hood of the car.  Any of these further details will be of benefit to a mechanic.

 

Cause:

If you can determine what causes an issue, especially if it is not happening all the time, you can narrow down lots of issues.  Examples of this are:

-         When I make a right hand turn

-         When I get above 55 miles an hour

-         After I put the car in reverse

-         After I take it out of four wheel drive

-         When I hit the brakes

-         While I’m towing a load

-         In the rain

-         When it’s over 70 degrees outside

-         When I have the radio/AC/heat on

Any of these factors can trigger issues, and a good mechanic will be able to narrow down the problem with this assistance.