Insider Report: The Incompetent Auto Mechanic

by Art G.


It isn't the dishonest mechanic you should fear. It is the incompetent one struggling to stay alive that is your nightmare.

Automechanics is full of false economies. If you use all the "miracle additives" available today you would spend enough to buy a new car!

How often to change oil? 90% of drivers should follow the severe service schedule as outlined in the owners manual. Now that recycling is becoming more common there is no danger to the car and little environmental impact if you change even more often.

What Oil should I use? Check the dipstick. The API (American Petroleum Institute ) rating is a measure of protection. The oil must have the same or higher letter after the S E.g.. A car calling for SE oil can safely use SG but the reverse is not likely to provide adequate protection.

Should I use synthetic oil? Synthetic oil provides protection well beyond that of regular oils. A good quality oil meeting manufacturer's specifications is all you need. A 100% synthetic IS better but unless you love or abuse the engine, not financially worth the cost.

What is OBD? OBD is the "on board diagnostics" computer systems covering virtually all domestic cars and light trucks in '96 and up. Car computers are faster and smarter and OBD takes full advantage of this with intelligent diagnostics. One of these monitors EACH cylinder and how well it is running.....making adjustments as required. If the cylinder still doesn't run well the computer stops injecting fuel in order to limit pollution!

Modern cars are a network of electronic controls...why I can't get a moments rest on a road trip! The engine computer talking to the transmission, the steering yakking to the suspension, the antilock brakes blathering to the OBDII monitors, I hardly notice the kids nagging anymore over the din!

Safety first. You have to see where you are going. Keep the windshield clean and the wipers in good order...it could save your life!

All your control is resting on 4 small patches of rubber. The best tires that you can afford are a good deal in my opinion.

Headlights are inadequate at highway speeds so, unless you have a newer vehicle with heads up display night vision equipment...slow down at night.

Are female automechanics any good? All depends on the female. From over a decade of teaching I have seen that..in general...
1.They are gutsy, being a mechanic is not "normal" Guys, how would your buddies react to, you saying you were going to be a ballet dancer?
2. They have a different communication style...they don't have to be the expert, and they tend to listen a bit better
3. They take more care. This sometimes means a less efficient performance at first...but wouldn't you rather that than broken pieces or a breakdown?
All in all...No Problem and the difference may be refreshing to you.

updated: July, 2014


Art is a mechanic on Little Cayman Island and serves the approximately 300 people that live there.

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