When most of us go to the doctor, we try to give as thorough a background of our symptoms as possible. We figure they are qualified to sift through what is relevant to the problem at hand and what is not. At least that is what we should be doing; I don’t think there is any professional that enjoys having to pry details from their clients.
The same goes for car repair. Your mechanic or service writer needs to know what you have been experiencing with your car since a symptom first appeared. Some people might have the idea that holding back details or simply saying something like, “my check engine light is on,” will somehow save them money on the repair. Quite the opposite! Firstly, a good mechanic or service writer will ask for more details, but the more forthcoming you are the better. Even if you aren’t sure if certain information is relevant, you won’t sound “dumb” for bringing it up. It is the professional’s job and responsibility to sort through the symptoms given and know what pertains to the problem at hand. If you leave something important out it could actually end up costing you more in diagnostic time while the mechanic is chasing down dead ends to eliminate possibilities.
The best customer is one who pays careful attention to the everyday driving sensations of their car. If something changes, whether it be in feeling or noise, they take note. It helps to play detective with your own car. For example, let’s say you feel a vibration in the steering wheel of your car, but not all the time. Pay attention to when you notice it happening. Does it happen once you reach a certain mph on the highway? Does it happen when you are making a turn (if so, left or right?)? This is just a simple example, but giving as much information as possible can help when the mechanic is trying to recreate the symptom on a test drive or in the shop. If you’re worried you won’t remember everything or you don’t want to hold the service writer up at the counter at a busy morning drop-off, write it down. A customer’s detailed notes can be very helpful.
So remember, no need to hold back, go ahead and let us know how your car is feeling!