I’ve found over the years that drivers typically have next to NO idea why a thorough pre-trip inspection should always be done. I’ve actually heard people say “the meck-a-nicks just want to get your money before the holidays”.
Those types of remarks sadden us; we work very hard, we educate ourselves continuously, we volunteer in the community, we sponsor youth sports teams, yet the perception in the public of auto repair professionals in general is that we are just “trying to get you”.
Tell you what- I’m going to explain why I THINK you should get a pre-trip check before a trip, and YOU make the call.
- It’s Cheap: A Pre-Trip Inspection is free with almost any service, as a standalone it costs 28$. Less than you spend on a dinner at a nice any restaurant. Considering that this could save your life (I’m not exaggerating) or at the least save you a ton of inconvenience when far from home and dealing with limited operating hours for service facilities (we have families too), it is a really, really inexpensive investment.
- It’s Fast: We can do it while you wait, it takes about 20-30 minutes. Less time than you spend eating at that restaurant in #1.
- You need this information: If your car is over 3 years old, you WANT a service professional to periodically check your ride. Brakes, chassis parts, batteries, certain fluids, the tires all begin to be potential failures at around 3 years of age. There are typically NOT a lot of failures on 3 year old cars, but they do happen. If you’re forewarned, you can make sure you’re ready in case of trouble, even if that means just making sure you have your fix-a-flat and your jumper cables.
- It’s Thorough: As thorough as we can make it without making too expensive. We check almost 70 different items in a pre-purchase inspection, from the air filter to the zephyr fluid. Just kidding! There’s no zephyr on a car. If there was, I bet it would be electric and wouldn’t have fluid anyway. If you’d like us to recite the list like a waitress listing the menu, we can do that, just call us. Suffice to say we check the brakes, lights, tires, suspension, steering, exhaust, filters, fluids, test the battery, look at the hoses and belts, engine mounts, take it for a brief test drive and give it a good visual once over for anything out of sorts.
- In conclusion: Consider the worst case scenario: You, the significant other, and the small people you live with are enroute to visit the In-Laws (no one likes those guys!) on Christmas Eve and halfway between the last exit and middle-earth, it’s -9 and raining, and !BANG! the car dies. You’re stuck on the side of the interstate, you’re trying to find a tow to ANY place that’s open (and really, the talented techs command the good days off, so you know even if you can find a place, you’re probably not getting the Master Technician) and you have no ability to check reviews for any service. You have to deal with the whole typical range of the auto repair experience PLUS the limited hours, PLUS the PARTS places have limited hours, PLUS you have Dad-In-Law saying:
“I always have (Insert Shop Name Here) check MY vehicle before I put MY wife in the car. ”
and to top it all off, you can’t even control the pricing because you’re stuck like it’s one of those Chinese finger trap things, you have to take whatever you can find. Oh, and did I mention it was -9 and raining? NO ONE, and I mean, no one needs THAT action.
Now the pre-trip check will NOT find everything that can cause a breakdown (cars are complex machines, and have thousands of critical parts), but it will give you the peace of mind that the major common failure items are checked.
Best $28 you’ll spend this season! Drive Safely! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!