Colin-on-Cars – What your mechanic would like you to know

Murphy’s Law of automotive repair states whatever expensive sounding noise coming from the engine prompts you to take it for service will vanish immediately you try and recreate it for the mechanic.

While auto specialists do not expenct car owners to know a bunch of technical stuff about their car, there are some things all mechanics wish owners did know.

We asked members of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud Association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), what five things they would really like their customers to be more aware of.

•             Be aware of your vehicle maintenance schedule: For Francois Greeff, one of the biggest issues is new vehicle owners, especially, do not understand the need for maintenance – or the costs involved.

“Many people do not grasp your insurance company will pay for breakages, but not maintenance,” he points out.

He adds mechanics can cause more damage to t he vehicle if they are not sure what they are doing, which is why it’s important to choose a MIWA-accredited workshop and then trust them entirely. Remember that your mechanic knows not to trust Google blogs!

A final word: “Any car owner should know how to check the basic fluid levels in their car, and do so regularly.”

•             Take note of lights and instrument cluster messages: Dos-santos Mukuchamano from The Car Experts, says the habit of disregarding service lights and cluster messages – something many motorists are guilty of – is a big mistake.

“There is a very important reason why the manufacturer equipped the vehicle with the reminder,” he insists. “Ignoring the light can lead to exhausted parts doing further damage to other serviceable parts, making for greater expenses later. It is just as bad to neglect the car when warning lights are showing. Worst case scenario, you will end up stuck on the side of the road – but even if things do not get that bad, you will probably pay more than you would have had to because additional problems that may be created.

“As a rule of thumb, if the engine or warning lights are flashing, consider it an emergency and stop driving the car immediately,” says Mukuchamano.

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•             Never skip a service: Just because your vehicle is running does not mean you can skip a service, warns Ravi Komal from Evergreen Motors.

“Regular servicing gives us a chance to pick up minor defects before they become major problems. What’s more, services are all different and focus on different parts.”

Komal advises against servicing or repairing your own vehicle, as cars come with technical specifications and require special tools that most people do not have access to.

•             Cheapest isn’t best: Neville Frost from Landy Centre points out the cost of servicing a vehicle can vary greatly, so it is important to understand why these discrepancies exist. For example, a MIWA accredited workshop is guaranteed to be staffed by trained mechanics who have access to all necessary diagnostic tools and adhere to Covid-19 protocols.

All MIWA workshops are VAT registered, comply with PAYE and UIF regulations, submit their tax returns and are registered with MIBCO. They also comply with health and safety regulations and the stipulations of the Labour Relations Act. MIWA accredited workshops are required to deliver to a standard of excellence, and offer recourse if this is not the case.

“There is no doubt that accreditation makes all the difference to a consumer.”

•             Change your oil:  According to Lance Kettles of Automotive Mechanical Services, using the incorrect oil or a cheaper brand can cause massive problems for your car, leading to sluggishness.

“It’s worth paying a bit extra to ensure quality oil, which means greater longevity for your engine. If you are unsure of which brand to select, you can always chat to one of the MIWA workshops for advice,” he says.

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