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Cleanliness is Mechanically Awesome

This is just to say that mechanics are not filthy human beings.

In fact, I am of the opinion that any mechanic worth his or her snuff probably has a cleaner and more organized bay/garage/workspace than clothes closet. I’m not a full mechanic yet but my closet is a disaster area. Meanwhile at the garage, I’m very aware of putting everything in its place and fastidiously cleaning once a job is done.

Beyond the safety element of maintaining a clean garage it’s also a really great way to save hassle further down the line.

Today I saw a great example of why this practice is far more common and more productive than you might expect. We started another annual on a Suburban today, but about halfway through the morning one of the maintenance team’s vans came in needing a brake job. Since the other light fleet mechanic is out on holiday this week we planned to pull the van into his bay rather than work in the yard and the hot sun. The other mechanic had just finished a job before the long weekend, but hadn’t had time to spit-shine his bay so we did some prep sweeping of his area.

Although the van’s just in to have its front brakes inspected, it now has a ticket in to replace the water pump as well. While I removed its tires for the brake job, the van dripped antifreeze onto the freshly swept floor — a detail we would have missed had we not taken the time to clean up.

Since I’m interning in a fleet environment this will be a relatively painless fix. The maintenance team will be down a vehicle for a few days but in the long run the problem’s been identified and caught before it could lead to a much more expensive repair. In a dealership or independent garage environment, however, Mr. Customer might get his finger waggling and accuse that dirty rotten mechanic of breaking things on his car and expecting him to foot the bill. This isn’t necessarily so but would be a bit more arduous to explain that sometimes having a clean parking surface can uncover a lot of hidden problems.

So yes. When your car’s in the shop for routine maintenance and the service writer comes back with a grocery list of things to fix, don’t be too quick to think the mechanic is out to get you. Chances are the troubles were just lurking under the hood like gremlins waiting to sully up the clean garage floor rather than creations of the greasy mechanic’s devious mind.

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