Here is the top list of dumb things customers have said when bringing their car to the mechanic. This list is surely not complete, and I bet people are saying many more facepalm worthy stuff right now.
Anyone else has any good stories I have missed? What are some real cringe-worthy things you have seen or heard as a mechanic working on peoples cars?
These are all 100% real stories that have happened probably more than once. If you have any to add please reach out to me on the contact me form linked above.
A customer comes into the shop complaining of an exhaust smell. The mechanic gets the repair order and reads exhaust smell and goes out to check the car out. When he can’t find anything wrong he asks the customer for more information. Well after talking about the car a bit the guy says yeah “I smell the exhaust when I start it up in the morning inside the car.”
The mechanic then asks “…are you starting the car up in your garage to warm it up?”
“Well, yeah I am”
Moral of the story, yes your car smells like exhaust because you are starting it up in a closed garage. Be thankful you didn’t kill yourself. Open the garage door next time!
You can’t fix stupid, but you can charge for it.
Horn Honks Over Bumps:
A woman comes into my friend’s shop years ago that her car was honking intermittently over speed bumps. On her way home, she had to drive over a section of speed bumps and had become pretty annoyed with this random beeping.
The service writer writes down her complaint and passes it on to his best electrical diagnosis technician in the shop. The guy takes the car for a test drive and can’t get the car to honk regardless of how many bumps or potholes he hits. Perplexed he takes the car back and tells the woman if she could drive the car and show him when it makes the honking noise.
She gets in the car, adjusts her seat, and starts driving. The first bump they hit the horn goes off. It takes the technician less than 5 seconds to realize the woman is sitting so far forward in the seat that her breasts are pushing the horn button on the steering wheel over bumps.
Now that must have been an awkward conversation!
Customer Installed Battery Now No Start:
This is also super common and happens more often than you would like to think. It usually goes something like this– the customer brings his car to a shop or a tow truck company tells them they need a new battery.
Well to save themselves some money, and I don’t disagree here, they decide to install it themselves. How hard can it be?
So they go out and buy the stupid battery at the stupid auto parts store where they are wasting their super valuable time. They swap the battery out and think to themselves dang that was easy, I can’t believe mechanics charge so much for labor.
Feel accomplished they hop into the car and turn the key. Nothing. Not even a click or crank.
The stupid mechanic they think! They tried to scam me, I didn’t actually need a battery! I am going to go back and give them a piece of my mind and make them pay for the repairs it actually needs. It must be true what they say about mechanics being crooked.
The mechanic comes out and starts to get yelled at by the customer. Yup, he tries to start the car and it won’t start. He or she pops the hood and sure enough, one of the dumbest things customers do is forget to take off the protective plastic caps on new batteries.
He removes the plastic cap, retightens the battery clamps, and the car fires right up. Sorry customer, maybe if you had been nice I wouldn’t charge a diagnosis fee for figuring out your mistake. Facepalm.
Once again, you can’t fix stupid but you can charge for it!
Car Won’t Accelerate Above Certain Speed:
Customer complaint: my car won’t accelerate anymore past a certain speed? It seems like it is bogging out and not driving properly. Maybe it needs spark plugs or a new air filter? My uncle Bob is a mechanic and said you should look at the spark plugs.
What the mechanic is thinking: Tell your Uncle Bob thanks for the advice lol. But let me get the keys and verify the complaint.
Starts the car. No check engine lights. Sounds fine. Goes to test drive and tries to accelerate. Immediately feels that the gas pedal is blocked by something. Looks down.
The floor matt is stuck behind the gas pedal. No durrr. You can’t go over 45mph because your gas pedal can’t go more than halfway down.
Mechanic adjusts floor matt and the car drives normal. Now the question is how much do you charge for stupid? lol.
Ever Since You…
The classic “ever since you” phrase from customers is the worst. Yes, sometimes mistakes happen right after you repair something on their car. It isn’t a given that the customer is wrong when they start a sentence with “ever since you” but sometimes what they finish it with is hilarious.
It can be like “ever since you” changed my oil the car has been pulling to the right on the freeway. Well, sorry customer all I did was change the oil there is no way I changed the alignment or touched anything that had to do with your cars steering.
The main reason these complaints happen is that people pay more attention immediately after getting their car worked on. Suddenly noises that had existed for years are being heard by the customer.
One of the best ones is when the customer forgets to put their gas cap back on. This causes the car to throw a check engine code and unless the customer is smart enough to read their own engine codes– a trip to the mechanic. The first thing they are going to check is whether or not you put the gas cap back on/tight enough.
This happens more than you would believe. Just remember before you jump to conclusions as a customer make sure it wasn’t your own stupid mistake!
Customers Bringing Head Gasket Sealer:
This one is a classic. The customer has a car that has been diagnosed with a bad head gasket. Mechanic quotes the repair at 1200 dollars and the customer heads over to the local Autozone where they speak with the parts guys.
They tell him they have this bottle of head gasket sealer for $45 out the door. The customer buys it thinking that their mechanic has been trying to rip them off. They go back to the shop that diagnosed the head gasket and quoted the full repair with their bottle of head gasket sealer in hand.
They walk directly up to the counter and demand that the mechanic use it instead.
What do you do at this point as a mechanic? Try to explain to them that these products do more harm than good, or that they do not need you to pour it into their car– they can do it themselves. Or do you refuse to do it? Charge them an hour of labor and make sure they understand there is no warranty or guarantee it works?
I would probably just flat out refuse. These are not the customers you want.
Brake Noise Just Started Yesterday!
Ok, so this one happens so much on many mechanic forums these posts are banned. Yes, customers will ignore noises for so long that literally, they grind through their entire brake pads and then into the rotors.
It can be so bad that there is no rotor left and the car is absolutely extremely dangerous to drive. But the customer will somehow maintain that the car only just recently started making noise! Yeah, yeah. We have heard that hundreds of times before.
Yes, it is going to be 1,000 dollars because you also now need two new rotors, new brake pads, and new calipers. Do I feel bad for you? No. You probably had the loudest shrieking noise coming from your brakes for the last 3,000 miles and did nothing about it.
This happens time and time again. How can we learn from it? People ignore problems until they become big problems. Next time your car starts making a noise go get it checked out.
Windshield Wipers Stopped Working:
I just replaced my windshield wipers myself and they aren’t working. Well did you remove the plastic cover that protects the rubber part of the windshield wipers?
Yeah, I guess you didn’t see that part.
Next time buddy. Next time.
I Hear a Clunking/Rattling/Weird Noise While Driving:
This one can be combined with the “…ever since you” complaint. It may go like this, “ever since you changed my front brakes” I hear a strange clunking when I hit bumps coming from the trunk.
Mechanic rolls their eyes and goes out to test drive the car. Sure enough, there is a loud clunk when you hit bumps. Pops open the trunk and finds it either completely full of junk that is bouncing around over bumps.
Sometimes it is a couple of liquor bottles at varying stages of empty, or as one technician found it was literally a hand symbol in the trunk.
Or it can literally be right on the passenger seat ant the customer can not even realize the noise is literally just the plastic on the seat next to them.
Regardless, you can’t fix stupid– but you can charge for it!
Replaced Calipers Myself Now They Won’t Bleed:
Well, we commend you for the effort Mr. or Mrs. customer. But they probably won’t bleed because you installed the wrong part on the wrong side. Yes, brake calipers can be installed backward and upside down. They will fit, they just won’t bleed. To the unknowing eye, everything looks fine, to the experienced mechanic, it is an easy spot.
How many gallons of brake fluid did you waste trying to bleed them?
Hope you learned from your mistakes and next time make sure to really be sure you understand what they should look like when you finish.
Cheers though from your local mechanic who will take this as an opportunity to make some money and help you learn from your mistakes!
People that own cars are probably getting dumber every day. This list is not even close to all the crazy things people complain about with their cars. It is honestly why I think that being an automotive mechanic is such a bad career choice in some ways.
Everyone acts like an expert with their cars, and yet people hardly know anything about them. Everyone has an uncle, or their dad, or their friend who is an expert and already diagnosed their car– so you must be wrong! My question to them is always, then why doesn’t your uncle fix it?
Please send me more funny stories I would love to add them to the post!
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