Spring is finding it’s way to the Kootenays albeit slowly. But surely! If you are a typical vehicle owner the sun coming out and heating the air above zero for the whole day inspires you to treat your vehicle to some maintenance.
First on your mind is probably taking off your winter tires and putting on the summers. Tire changeover season is busy season for your local repair centre. This brings to mind some mechanic pet peeves that come to a head particularly when the shop is busy.
You may or may not know that your wheels are held on with bolts or nuts and that each wheel may have a lock type nut or bolt. These are generally used to stop thieves from stealing fancy wheels These lock type bolts or nuts require a key type removal tool. Please help out your repair centre by knowing where that special little tool is and telling them ahead of time where to find it.
While we are talking about wheel nuts some summer wheel and winter wheels require different nuts/bolts so when you bring the wheels to swap over remember the nuts/bolts that go with them.
The search for the wheel lock key is always an unnecessary challenge. A lot of time can be wasted looking for this little key. The glove box, the centre console, door pockets, seat pockets, trunk, spare tire wheel well, and jack location are all the possibilities and the search is time wasted.
Speaking of keys. If you only gave us your vehicle’s valet key you may have really made working on your vehicle even more of a challenge. Not only are wheel lock keys sometimes hiding in the trunk or glove box (your valet key will not unlock or access these places) but you would be amazed the many jobs that require trunk or glove box access.
Trunk mounted batteries, evaporative emission control systems, rear suspension shock or strut replacement or simply servicing your spare tire.
Next to no wheel lock key to remove the wheels, bringing in a vehicle for service with no or very little fuel in the tank definitely ruffles your mechanic’s feathers.
The owner of a vehicle may know that his vehicle’s low fuel indicator light just came on and that a trip from Trail to Castlegar and back is easily possible. Your mechanic on the other hand will only recognize that light being on as indicating “I want you to cure my wheel shake that occurs at 90 kilometres per hour by attaining that speed within spitting distance of the shop.” Many tasks require extensive road testing and range anxiety should not be clouding your mechanic’s diagnostic skills.
Most importantly do not leave out details of your vehicle’s symptoms in hopes that a regular oil change will flush out all the annoying problems your vehicle is suffering. Basic service may solve some basic obvious problems but upfront information can greatly shorten the diagnostic process and definitely save you some money.
Fuel in the tank, wheel lock key in plain sight, and a little grocery list of problems and symptoms will go a long way towards smoothing out your mechanic’s day. We do appreciate it.
Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. He will write every other Thursday. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org