I only responded to your comments that I copied and pasted directly from your post. I got the impression, (right or wrong), that you were on one extreme of the spectrum and your first response was to be angry before we even knew if there was something valid to be angry about. My response was at the other extreme of the spectrum, (like balancing a teeter totter), and reached for the things that could explain what happened and why there might not be anything to be worried about.
There was nothing in your first post to suggest you were joking about your being angry comment. As I told my students over and over when they wrote written papers for me, you can't assume anything about how a comment will be taken when I can't hear your voice inflection or see your hand gestures or facial expressions. If you don't write it, I don't know it. Actually, that's why we have to keep replying back and forth until we make our messages clear. I'm sure had we been speaking face-to-face, our conversation would be considerably different.
I'm sorry if I wasn't clear, but there are just as many guys out there who know nothing about cars. I suspect they get treated differently because of how they handle that lack of knowledge. I recently had to buy a new furnace that I installed myself. I don't know anything about furnaces other than what they do, and the salesman knew that, but I asked a lot of questions and apologized for my lack of knowledge. The salesman couldn't stop offering advice and information. As a former mechanic, customers often trotted over to their cars while I was working on them and asked a bunch of questions. If their tone was accusatory or looking to place the blame for a breakdown on someone else, I did nothing more than give a short, quick answer, then went about my work. (I hate to imagine how my attitude was perceived). The worst offenders were usually old guys who thought they knew everything because they fixed a car 40 years ago. Young girls didn't care what I was doing. They just wanted to get going. Women in their thirties, however, were almost always the ones with the most coherent questions and the ones who paid the most attention when getting an answer. You gotta understand it can be an ego thing too to be asked to explain how something on a car works. We get to show off our knowledge, just like my furnace salesman.
On a related side note, My dealership also held a class once a month for all their new and used car buyers to explain in greater detail how warranty, the service department, body shop, and parts department work, and how to maintain their cars. Very few guys showed up. Admitting that lack of knowledge is seen as a sign of weakness, I guess. It was the ladies who were interested in learning more about the thing we trust to take us places and get us back home. Who in their right mind would look down on anyone wanting to learn more?
A lot of mechanics love to share information, but you have to understand what's going through their mind when they do so. First of all, they speak an entirely different language than car owners. Just like doctors talk with other doctors differently than they do with their patients, accountants, airline pilots, and mechanics do the same thing. If you stood next to a pilot while he was talking with another pilot, no one would think any less of you if you didn't understand what they were talking about. You might assume they feel superior, but smart pilots know that you are an expert at things they are not. The next time you feel a mechanic is looking down on you for not knowing much about cars, replace that thought with something about what you're an expert at and the mechanic knows nothing about.
Most mechanics do not have good communication skills when it comes to speaking with customers, and dealership owners know this and try to keep them apart.
Second, related to that different language we speak, most mechanics have been burned in the past when one of their comments was mixed up in translation and taken to mean something entirely different than what was said. That's not so bad if the misunderstanding is noticed right away with followup questions, but if the conversation ends with that misinformation, you are likely to assume you were lied to, the mechanic doesn't know what he's doing, or something else along those lines. It can be easier to avoid the possibility of that miscommunication by just not saying anything other than that short, quick answer. THAT is the first thing I think about when someone types that they're angry. Of the customer complaints I witnessed at three different shops, about 80 percent could have been either avoided or been handled better if the mechanic / service adviser, or shop owner had taken the time to explain things better. The other 20 percent could probably be attributed to the car owner's bullheadedness and refusal to give up incorrect preconceived notions. Those are the people who just can't be satisfied, but getting angry back at them doesn't help solve anything.
Another problem is systems on cars are too complicated and interrelated to just provide simplified answers. You see how long-winded I get here. Now imagine that it took eight weeks for each of eight courses to teach just the basics to my students. Cooling systems are discussed in the Engine Repair course, Heating and Air Conditioning course, Electrical course, and Transmission course. Both student and instructor are going to have a hard time explaining multiple leaks to you without going into those related areas. When we try, we leave you hanging with even more questions, hence the unintended feeling you think we're looking down on you for not knowing more about cars. The reality is most mechanics are going to feel frustrated that they don't have the ability to give you a clear, meaningful answer without a lot of elaboration.
As a final note on this topic, keep in mind there is a joke mechanics like to share about getting your car serviced. Without trying to remember the whole thing, it goes something on the order of, ... How does a woman get the oil changed on her car? She pays 25 bucks to let someone else do it. How does a guy change the oil on his car? He saves money by doing it himself, plus he knows it's done right. 50 bucks to buy a set of ramps. Drives off the side of one ramp and bends the fender. Drains the oil into the 5-dollar pan he just bought. Spills on the floor. Grab a beer. Drives to the auto parts store for a bag of oil dry compound. Cleans up the mess. Finds the drain plug threads are stripped. Bangs head while sliding out from under the car. Drinks a beer. Drives to the parts store for a new drain plug. Gets arrested for drunk driving. Calls wife to pick him up from the police station, ... After she's done getting her oil changed! Who's the smart one?
The moral of the story is you might THINK you don't know much about cars, but you're smart enough to know where to go for help.
I realize too that you never said you felt ripped off. My referring to that is from previous replies where other people also told how angry they were. That's just a part of my explanation related to the issue.
Okay, now that I got that out of my system, what have you done to address the low coolant issue? Are there any signs of a leak outside the engine and / or on the ground? To nearly empty the reservoir there had to either be a big air pocket that is gone now or something is going to be very wet. Check the oil level too with the engine not running. If it is above the "Max" mark. Coolant could be leaking into the oil. That needs to be addressed right away because antifreeze will melt the first layer of very soft metal on the engine bearings. It can't be helped that a little coolant is going to run into the oil when the intake manifold is removed, so it is customary to perform an oil and filter change right after that service. There are times when one could be tempted to not do the oil change when it looks like no coolant ran into the oil but I wouldn't want to stake my reputation on saving my customer a few bucks.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 AT 1:05 AM