Auto Mechanic

Auto Mechanic

Charles ~ Humble Mechanic

Raleigh, NC

Male, 32

I am one of about 200 master certified VW techs in the USA. I do everything from basic maintenance, to advanced diagnosis. I eat, sleep and breathe VWs. I also have my own website dedicated to helping everyone to understand their car, and see the behind the scenes of being an auto mechanic. You can see more at

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Last Answer on October 20, 2013

Best Rated

I've heard about mechanics adding charges to the bill that really should just be a costs of doing business, like charging for oil rags and other misc supplies used during a servicing. Should I be fighting those types of charges or do you defend them?

Asked by Dr. Mike about 9 years ago

It is the shop that adds that stuff not the mechanics. But that is not really your question ;) My dealer adds "shop supplies" to every job. They cap it at $20. There are times when we wave that fee just to help a customer out. I have really mixed feelings about the charge. You can make a good case either way. We could just add it to the cost of labor. Then when you compare labor costs we will be a few dollars higher. We can bill exactly what we use on each job. Then a customer will question why we used 2 shop rags instead of just 1. We don't bill separate for things like washer fluid, p/s fluid/ cleaner and so on. They are billed as part of the shop supplies. That is a charge that you can easily get removed. Just be cool about it and ask the shop to help you out. The customer that throws a big fit, and yells and screws about it, rarely get them removed. It is the shop that adds the charges, not the advisor that gets yelled at for it. Hope that helps. Charles

Is there a consensus among insiders as to what car brands are most/least likely to end up in the shop for repairs? Is there a particular make/model that you'd advise everyone to stay far away from?

Asked by samsam about 9 years ago

There are some common "great" cars. Most folks will say that Toyota is the best car on the road. Ask the folks at the dealers how that worked out a few years back. Then you read about how all german cars are trouble. Here is the facts. ALL brands have issues. Some more than others, but they all do. Cars will break, parts will fail, people will fail to maintain their cars properly. Then there is the fan mentality. Some folks are die hard Ford people. Me, I will not own another ford again. The one I had was junk. But I will also not own a Honda again. The service at my local Honda dealer was awful. The worst part was, I work for the company that owned the dealer. Brands that were thought of as bad years ago have really come along way(Hyundai and Kia). As long as you understand that all cars will break, buy the car that fits you and your needs. Oh, and good MPG doesn't hurt either.

I've always been told to buy American, because if the car breaks down, the parts are cheaper and more readily available. Is that accurate?

Asked by The Rocket about 9 years ago

I think that there is some truth to that. I also think there are more places that make and sell some parts for American cars. I would say that is true for just about everything except modern electronics. It is pretty much the same across the board. So many manufacturers share similar electronics. My advise for buy a new car is 1)Do some research on maintenance costs. 2) Test drive, test drive, test drive 3) Buy what you like and what fits you and your car needs. Great question!

Every time I bring my car in for any kind of servicing, I'm told I need my air filters changed (even if it's just been a couple months). Is this b.s.?

Asked by benjiboo about 9 years ago

Maybe. It really depends on where you are located. If you are near the beach, your filter may be getting clogged up with sand. That will cause it to need replacement more often. I would guess that you don't need a filter that often. If the place you are taking it to says you NEED a filter everytime, I would consider finding a new shop, or just tell them no, OR have them show you the dirty filter. That is the best way to know if you need one or not.

Do you ever feel like friends and family take advantage of your expertise and ask you for free help with their cars? How do you handle this?

Asked by slowgrind about 9 years ago

HAHA, sometimes. When I started my current job, I moved 900 miles away from all of my family and friends. So it was not a huge deal at first. Everyone I knew I worked. It can get a little frustrating when the only time people call you is for car help. I try to help as many folks as I can, and LOTS of my friends drive VWs. Here is what happens more often. People will make big car choices with out asking me first. Then they are shocked when things go wrong. I hate to see friends and family spend money and time needlessly, when I know that I could have helped them.

What made you decide to specialize in VWs?

Asked by RJ about 9 years ago

I was a VW fan for a few years before working on them. The blue cluster lights were the first thing I fell in love with. I had a choice from VW, Audi, MB, BMW, and one more that I don't remember. There are more VWs on the road so that was the final deciding factor. I don't regret it for 1 second. Thanks for asking that, it is always fun to reflect on that decision.

Is there a particular book or video that you'd recommend to the auto-ignorant that'll at least give us a general overview about how the main parts of the car work so we're not TOTALLY clueless when we visit a mechanic?

Asked by Mellie about 9 years ago

The average customer should turn to their owners manual. That will at least have maintenance schedule. It will keep you from paying for a service when it is not due. I have yet to find a "how a car works" type book that is worth a darn. So I am working on one. I want people to feel good bringing their car in for service. More like visiting a friend, rather than worrying "How am I going to get screwed this time" Start with your owners book. It is one of the most under used resources in the industry. I use customers books all the time. I can't know every feature on every car, so that is where I turn. If you happen to be put on the spot with a repair, ask the mechanic or service advisor to SHOW you the problem, and explain what is going on. If they can't or wont, get the heck out of there!