Dos and Donts for Getting the Most Out of Your Visit
If you want advice about how to fix your car, remember that you are the eyes and ears of your helpers. So, you need to be a good witness.
Here are some doís and doníts
Do record the year, transmission type, mileage and engine size of your vehicle, and any pertinent history of repairs.
Do provide as many details as you can about the problem.
Donít ask, ďdoes anybody know how to fix a Dodge?Ē donít ask, ďhow do you fix brakes?Ē Vague questions like that are a red flag that the person has no clue about auto repair, so donít be surprised if you get simple answers back. If you show some evidence of your skill set, then those offering advice can better adjust the explanation to your knowledge level. And, there is less risk of walking somebody down a repair pathway that puts them in danger of causing more problems.
Donít just say ď my car wonít startĒ. You need to be a better observer. Hereís an example.
I have a 1998 automatic transmission 5.2L with 180,000 miles that wonít start today. Itís never had any serious repair and itís had no major maintenance before. Last night while I was driving the engine suddenly quit, so I coasted to a stop on the road, a block from my house. Dash lights and headlights stayed on until I turned the key off. That night I couldnít restart it, so I walked home. This morning I stepped into the truck and I turned the key to on. Just after I turn the key to on, I hear the fuel pump motor come on for a couple of seconds. The lights on the dash come on, the headlights work normally. The fuel gauge reads 3/4 full. When I turn the key to start I hear the starter motor engage, and I hear and feel the crankshaft spin. I can see the serpentine belt moving when I try to start the vehicle. But it spins the motor at a faster than normal speed, with an unusually smooth whirring sound and no evidence of ignition.
The above history, presented in the kind of smooth and logical way that a mechanic would normally approach the problem, rings familiar bells and makes it much easier for others to help.
Unless youíre sure, donít start the description with your diagnosis. For example, donít start with the question ď how do I replace a thermostatĒ Rather, give the problem, the evidence, and only then discuss why you think you need a new thermostat. You might find that the white smoke out your exhaust that you didnít mention is also related to the overheating radiator.
Do provide as many clues as you can. for example if the problem only happens in damp or cold weather, mention it.
Do consider making a video of the problem. Posting video on Youtube is free, easy, and fun. A short video of your problem can make a huge difference as to how much youíll get out of your effort. And youíll likely meet a lot of interesting friends along the way.
Finally, one more thing. Remember to keep your thread active, right to the point that the problem is solved and answered. Everybody who helps out on this forum wants to see how things ended up. If you ask a question on this forum, you owe those who try to help the courtesy of telling them what the solution was, even if you eventually had it fixed by a pro.