5 things your mechanic isn’t telling you

Save money at the mechanic’s by knowing the tricks of the trade.



From the December/January 2013 issue of the magazine.


1. You don’t need an oil change yet. Mechanics tend to recommend oil changes every 5,000 km. That’s a bit excessive, says Car Help Canada executive director Mohamed Bouchama. An oil change every 6,000 to 8,000 km should suffice.

2. I’ll get you on the upsell. When business is slow, garages push additional maintenance, including transmission, fuel injection and coolant flushes. Oil-change shops do this upselling as a matter of course because margins are razor thin, says Carmen Martino, owner of C. Martino Auto Centre in Vancouver. Trouble is, many of these services have little value. “Coolant flushes are a waste of time,” he says, whereas full transmission service is only required every 80,000 to 100,000 km.

3. Aftermarket parts are just as good. These parts are made by third parties rather than the original car manufacturer. Often the only difference is the sticker, Martino says. Aftermarket parts are rated Tier 1, 2 and 3, with Tier 1 considered equal in quality to branded parts. “As long as you get the best aftermarket parts, you’ll be fine,” Bouchama says. Plus, you’ll save 20% to 30% with a Tier 1 part.

4. You’re better off at the dealership. It’s important to maintain a relationship with the people who sold you the car, at least for the first few years. You’ll want the dealership on your side in the event of a problem, especially if the warranty has recently expired. “If you don’t go to them at all, they’re going to give you a hard time,” says Bouchama.

5. Certifications matter. The highest level of certification that an auto service technician can get (outside Quebec) is the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal. The seal indicates a mechanic has completed a minimum number of work hours and has passed an exam. Bouchama also prefers a mechanic who upgrades his skills frequently because “car technology keeps changing.”

7 comments on “5 things your mechanic isn’t telling you

  1. Changing your engine oil every 6-8 thousand kms? Thats a joke, by the time most people bring their cars in for an oil change its already 2 to 3 thousand kms overdue. Guess what you pull the dipstick out and there isn't even a drop on it. Reality is most cars burn some oil and others leak oil by the time you get to 5 thousand kms you need an oil change. Dont be cheap like this guy recommends.


    • I run my car 8000 to 12000 for my oil change and guess what my dipstick is never dry and my oil is barely dirty. I don’t even use synthetic just cheap Wal-Mart oil. So keep paying these crooks every 5000 km if you want but ill save my money thanks!


  2. I really disagree with the suggestion to "keep" a relationship with your dealership, by having your maintenance done there.

    They cost 30-50% more than standard auto service garages. They are expensive and not worth it.

    If an issue arises, your service record and the law + warranty contract should be all you need.
    That and a little insistence that they do what needs to be done.


  3. Oil change frequency? – depends on the type of driving and perhaps on the age of the vehicle. If driving is mostly on mountain roads with heavy acceleration and heavy braking; then the engine will work harder and a more frequent oil change makes sense. Similarly if driving is mostly on northern gravel roads, even with an efficient air filter, fine dust will tend to cause additional ring and cylinder wear, so more frequent oil changes are desirable. With appropriate maintenance and a favourable climate, a modern car engine can perform for over 700,000 km.


  4. It is very necessary to look after your vehicle while you are using it. Unless you taking care of your vehicle it will not give you the best service. You have to check your vehicle regularly. Making proper repairing of engine, changing the engine oil, checking the wheels condition will help your vehicle a lot.
    It will give best of running. Need to do everything carefully, taking expert advice will help you in this way.


  5. "COOLANT FLUSHES ARE A WASTE OF TIME' he says. Not sure what a " flush" is, but coolant needs replacing when your owner manual says it's time. If you don't do it, you WILL pay later, and could easily cause serious damage. What an ignorant comment. Don't listen to this clown,listen to the owners manual.


  6. “An oil change every 6,000 to 8,000 km should suffice.”

    Wouldn’t that be too late by then? lol not to be rude but I completely disagree with this statement. Oil change doesn’t even cost that much, so why be cheap? it’ll save you a lot more money if you don’t dry out, right?


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *