Top-notch me­chan­i­cal ser­vice can be re­warded with a tip

The Fresno Bee - - Auto - By Ray Magliozzi and Doug Ber­man

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.

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