Is there such a thing as garage etiquette?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

Is there such a thing as garage etiquette? Let me explain. A friend of mine
recommended a certain mechanic to me. I went to him and am thoroughly satisfied.
He owns the shop and has a great reputation. He also has a couple of employees.
My "etiquette" question is this: Is it rude to specifically ask for the owner to
work on my car? I'm concerned that the other two employees don't really know the
car's history. They also seem to ogle me. Is it a big deal to insist upon a
specific mechanic? Or should I just forget about it and let whoever has the time
work on my car? -- Michelle

RAY: You know, we've played Dear Abby and Dr. Ruth before, but this is the first
time we've been asked to be Miss Mechanical Manners.

TOM: And I'm sure it'll be the last time. The truth is, you really can't expect
the owner to work on your car every time. If he had time to work on every single
car, he wouldn't have hired those sub-humanoids who were ogling you in the first

RAY: Also, there's a degree of triage that goes on in a garage. The owner, if
he's the most skilled mechanic, might choose to work on the most difficult
repairs of the day or the ones that require the most careful diagnosis. And he's
likely to pass on the more routine matters -- the oil changes, tire rotations,
fuzzy-dice replacements -- to his less-skilled workers.

TOM: It's like a doctor's office. Do you expect the doctor to take your
temperature and check your weight? No. A physician's assistant does that and
does a perfectly good job of it.

RAY: And you can assume that since the owner is there all day, and since he
wants to keep you as a customer, he'll be supervising his employees.

TOM: If you do have what you consider to be a difficult problem, you can
certainly request that the owner work on your car, but I'd do it privately and
in advance. Call him and say that you don't want to offend the Greystoke
brothers, but you'd really like it if he could work on your car, since you trust
him so much. Ask him what day would be a good day to bring it in when he'd have
the time.

RAY: Then he can assign himself to your car, and HE can do the ogling! Good
luck, Michelle.

* * *

Wait! Before you buy a car, make sure you read Tom and Ray's guide, "How to Buy
a Great Used Car: Things Detroit and Tokyo Don't Want You to Know." Send $3 and
a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Used Car, PO Box 5541,
Riverton, NJ 08077-5541.

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