LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Are you the kind of person who turns up the radio when your car starts making a funny noise? Anything to avoid making a trip to the mechanic or dealer.
We all know that visit might end up costing a pretty penny. It feels worse if you have no idea what the mechanic is saying. Well, let's try to fix that. THV11's Rolly Hoyt has a conversation with mechanic Gary Potter at his shop in Conway.
Bringing our four-wheeled babies into the garage is like taking a trip into a scary, mysterious world with a language all its own.
Rolly Hoyt: Tell it to me straight. Where's the thing-a-mabob?
Gary Potter: The thingamabob? I'd have to ask the customer because only they know where their thingamabob is.
RH: And the whatchamacallit?
GP: Yes, same answer. Only they will know.
Potter has been a mechanic for more than 50 years, starting at his dad’s side long before he could drive. All that time under the hood and even he says changes in cars are going from zero to 60 in no time flat. Even he has trouble keeping up.
GP: Now we're a rolling computer as opposed to a gasoline engine attached to a distributor that makes it perform.
RH: Those computers send out error messages. Which ones are the scariest? When the tire pressure light comes out would you suggest when that light comes on giving you a call?
GP: Absolutely. There's safety issues involved in that. If it's really just a faulty sensor then that doesn't create a safety issue, but if the tire is really low, and that's what the indicator is there for, it can create a hazard for you driving down the road.
Usually, it’s nothing and Potter usually doesn’t charge anything for the check, but when there is something wrong, be prepared to talk about the price of parts. An independent mechanic can give you options between after-market or original equipment.
GP: Unfortunately in today's world a lot of our after-market parts are now being sourced from overseas. So I do recognize the difference in something that may be made in a different environment from a Toyota Corolla or a Cadillac or any of our O-E manufacturers. But the savings is quite often so huge that I can buy two or three of the after-market parts for what an O-E may work.
RH: Let’s talk about oil changes. The oil company says 5,000 miles. You tell me, can I get 8,000 or 10,000 before it gets scary?
GP: My personal opinion is that when you're a lower mileage car then you can certainly go those extended miles. I don't really like saying 10,000 but some people still do that. My concern for that is as your car starts aging you get more miles on it, and you're not getting a trained professional under the hood to check all the fluid levels, not just the oil, look at your belts, look at your whatever it may be that could potentially put you on the side of the road, and you're going 10,000 miles on a 150,000-mile car, then that's expecting a lot.
RH: What's harder these days, reading the people or reading the cars?
GP: Probably a good mix. Whether it's me talking to them or the customer talking to me, the key is don't be bashful about saying “I really want to get this done but that's not my budget. What are the other options?” Whether it be after-market, used, just anything, what are my options, and usually most guys, not just me. There's plenty of good shops all over Conway. They will present options to them that might be better suited for them.
RH: What about the air filter? They always want to sell you a new air filter.
GP: I don’t even check it when I do a check-up. If you’re just driving around on streets and highways in Arkansas, there’s no reason for it to get really dirty all that often. Now, if you’re driving a truck on dirt roads or out in the fields, then maybe we need to change it more often.