Top-notch mechanical service can be rewarded with a tip
Dear Car Talk:
Here’s a question you haven’t answered yet. I recently used a mobile mechanic — a guy who came to me where my car was, rather than me bringing my car to him at his shop. How much of a tip should I give to a mobile mechanic? — Mark
Good question, Mark. I would say that, unlike a server at a restaurant, who gets paid 75 cents an hour and counts on tips to afford his or her daily gruel, tips for mechanics really are optional. They’re a “thank you” for particularly good service. So if you call a mobile mechanic, and he goes above and beyond what he has to do, that’s when you would say “thanks” with a tip.
For instance, if he arrives right away, is friendly, fixes your car in the rain, takes the time to give you some good advice about how to avoid problems in the future, charges a very fair price and doesn’t break anything else or clean out the change in your cup holder, those all can be reasons to tip him.
I would not base it on a percentage of the bill, like you would at a restaurant. Instead, I would offer something between $5 and $20, depending on just how grateful you feel. Giving a mechanic an extra $5 is a nice way to say, “Thank you for getting here on time and fixing the problem.” Giving a mechanic an extra $20 is an unmistakable way of saying, “Wow, this was great service, and I am very thankful for your extra effort.”
Of course, nothing beats a pan of fresh, warm brownies, but not everybody drives around with one of those just in case, Mark. That’s why the $20 bill was invented.
SWITCH TO SYNTHETIC OIL SHOULD BE A SEAMLESS TRANSITION
Dear Car Talk:
After some research a few years ago, I purchased a used 2006 Lexus ES 330 with 60,000 miles. It has been a really reliable and comfortable car (I used to be a truck gal). I have kept up all the regular maintenance and would like to keep it until it goes or I go.
I now have 112,000 miles on it. My question to you is about changing to synthetic oil at my next oil change. I have read many pros and cons on the subject. — Paula
There are a bunch of myths going around about synthetic oil, Paula. People say you can’t switch to synthetic oil after using conventional, dinosaur-based oil — your car will reject the new fluid like a transplanted spleen from your annoying brother-in-law. They say you can’t mix synthetic oil with conventional oil inside the engine — they’ll react badly to each other, like two grouchy, old cats. And they say synthetic oil is lower in calories if you use it in salad dressing.
All of these claims are false, as far as we can tell. Although we haven’t tested the salad dressing as of yet. We’re really impressed with synthetic oil. It seems to lubricate better and last longer. And because you change it less frequently, there’s less waste oil that we have to dispose of or reprocess. So I wouldn’t hesitate to switch over to synthetic.
Otherwise, it sounds like you’re doing all the right things, Paula. You’re doing all the regular maintenance, even as the car gets older. And presumably, you’re driving it gently, which is a huge factor in automotive lifespan.