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ESL Lesson: Going to the Mechanic

Updated: Sep 18, 2023


Car Parts:


  • Meaning: The main component of a vehicle that produces power by burning fuel, which drives the vehicle.


  • Meaning: The system in a vehicle that controls the power generated by the engine and transfers it to the wheels, allowing the car to move forward or backward.


  • Meaning: A device that stores electrical energy and provides the power needed to start the engine and operate electrical components in the car.


  • Meaning: The round, rubber components on a vehicle's wheels that provide traction and support the vehicle's weight.


  • Meaning: The system in a vehicle that slows down or stops the car by applying friction to the wheels.


  • Meaning: The system that carries away and expels exhaust gases produced during the combustion of fuel in the engine.


  • Meaning: A component that helps cool the engine by transferring heat from the coolant (water and antifreeze mixture) to the surrounding air.

Oil filter

  • Meaning: A device that removes impurities and contaminants from the engine oil, helping to keep the engine clean and well-lubricated.

Spark plugs

  • Meaning: Small devices in the engine that create sparks to ignite the air-fuel mixture in each cylinder, powering the engine.


  • Meaning: A component that generates electrical power for the car's electrical system and charges the battery while the engine is running.

Car Problems:


  • Meaning: When the engine's temperature rises above the safe operating range, which can lead to engine damage if not addressed.

Flat tire

  • Meaning: A tire that has lost all or most of its air, making it unsafe to drive on and requiring repair or replacement.

Engine won't start

  • Meaning: When the engine does not turn on or crank, preventing the car from starting and running.

Strange noises

  • Meaning: Unusual or unfamiliar sounds coming from the vehicle, which may indicate a mechanical problem.

Check engine light

  • Meaning: A warning light on the dashboard that illuminates when the car's computer detects a problem with the engine or emissions system.

Low oil

  • Meaning: When the engine has insufficient engine oil, which can lead to engine damage and poor performance.

Transmission issues

  • Meaning: Problems with the transmission system, such as difficulty shifting gears, slipping, or unusual noises during gear changes.

Brake problems

  • Meaning: Issues with the brake system, which can affect a car's ability to stop safely or lead to brake failure.

Battery dead

  • Meaning: When the car battery has no charge left, preventing the engine from starting and electrical components from functioning.

Leaking fluids

  • Meaning: The escape of fluids, such as oil, coolant, or brake fluid, from the car, indicating a potential problem that needs attention.

Useful Phrases:

  • My car is making a strange noise.

  • I need an oil change.

  • Can you check the brakes?

  • My check engine light is on.

  • I have a flat tire.

  • My car won't start.

  • Is there a problem with the transmission?

  • Can you fix the exhaust?

  • How much will it cost to repair?

  • When will it be ready?

Sample Scripts:

Scenario 1: Making an Appointment

Learner: Hi, I need to schedule an appointment for my car.

Mechanic: Sure, what seems to be the problem?

Learner: My check engine light is on, and it's making a strange noise.

Mechanic: I can take a look at it. When would you like to bring it in?

Learner: Is tomorrow morning at 9 AM available?

Mechanic: Yes, that works. We'll see you then.

Scenario 2: Describing the Problem

Learner: I brought my car in because it's overheating.

Mechanic: Okay, I'll check that for you. When did you first notice the problem?

Learner: It started yesterday when I was driving to work.

Mechanic: We'll investigate and give you an estimate soon.

Scenario 3: Getting a Diagnosis

Mechanic: We've checked your car, and it seems you have a flat tire and a low battery.

Learner: Can you fix it? How much will it cost?

Mechanic: Yes, we can repair the tire and charge the battery. It will cost around $150.

Learner: That sounds good. Please go ahead.

Scenario 4: Repair Completion

Mechanic: Your car is ready for pick-up. We replaced the spark plugs and changed the oil.

Learner: Great! How much do I owe you?

Mechanic: The total comes to $200.

Learner: Here's my credit card. Thank you for fixing it!

Remember to encourage ESL learners to practice these scripts and vocabulary to feel more confident when dealing with a mechanic. Additionally, they can use these dialogues as a basis for their own situations, adapting them as needed.

Practice Exercises:

Exercise 1: Vocabulary Matching

Match the car parts or problems on the left with their descriptions on the right.

  1. Engine a. A component that helps start the engine.

  2. Transmission b. The warning light indicating a problem.

  3. Flat tire c. A component responsible for cooling the engine.

  4. Check engine light d. The rubber part that touches the road.

  5. Alternator e. The part that transfers power to the wheels.

Exercise 2: Fill in the Blanks

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate vocabulary word from the list:

Overheating, Battery, Strange noises, Exhaust, Low oil

  1. My car is ____________, and the temperature gauge is in the red zone.

  2. I suspect there's a problem with the ____________ because the lights are dim.

  3. There are ____________ coming from the engine when I accelerate.

  4. I think the ____________ system has a leak because I can smell fumes.

  5. The dashboard warning light indicates ____________ levels.

Exercise 3: Dialog Completion

Complete the following dialogues based on the given scenarios:

Scenario 1: Making an Appointment

Customer: Hi, I need to schedule an appointment for my car.

Mechanic: Sure, what seems to be the problem?

Customer: My ____________ is on, and it's making a ____________.

Mechanic: I can take a look at it. When would you like to bring it in?

Customer: Is ____________ morning at ____________ available?

Mechanic: Yes, that works. We'll see you then.

Scenario 2: Describing the Problem

Customer: I brought my car in because it's ____________.

Mechanic: Okay, I'll check that for you. When did you first notice the problem?

Customer: It started ____________ when I was driving to work.

Mechanic: We'll investigate and give you an ____________ soon.

Exercise 4: Role Play

Pair up and take turns playing the customer and mechanic roles. Use the vocabulary and sample scripts to create your own dialogues related to car problems and repairs. Try to incorporate as many vocabulary words as possible.

These exercises will help ESL learners practice using the vocabulary and phrases in context, improving their ability to communicate effectively when going to the mechanic.

Exercise 5: Read Story

Julian's Flat Tire Adventure

Once upon a time in a small town, there lived a boy named Julian. Julian loved riding his bicycle all around the town. One sunny morning, he decided to go to the park with his friends. He hopped on his bicycle, and off he went.

As Julian was riding to the park, he suddenly heard a strange noise from his bicycle. "Oh no!" he thought. He stopped and looked at his back tire. It was flat! Julian felt sad because he couldn't ride his bike with a flat tire.

Julian decided to push his bicycle back home. It was hard work, but he didn't give up. He knew he needed to go to the mechanic to fix his flat tire. So, he pushed and pushed until he reached the mechanic's shop.

Inside the mechanic's shop, Julian met Mr. Smith, the friendly mechanic. Julian told Mr. Smith about his flat tire, and Mr. Smith smiled and said, "Don't worry, Julian. I can help you with that." Mr. Smith took a look at the tire and found a sharp nail stuck in it.

Mr. Smith quickly fixed the flat tire for Julian. While he was working, Julian watched and learned. He saw how Mr. Smith used special tools to remove the nail and then patched the tire. It was fascinating!

In no time, Julian's bicycle tire was as good as new. Julian thanked Mr. Smith and said, "You're the best, Mr. Smith! Now I can go to the park with my friends." He hopped back on his bike and rode away, feeling happy and grateful.

From that day on, Julian always remembered to be careful while riding his bicycle to avoid sharp objects on the road. And whenever he had a problem with his bike, he knew just where to go—the friendly mechanic, Mr. Smith.

And so, Julian's flat tire adventure turned into a valuable lesson about bicycle care and the kindness of people like Mr. Smith.

A Short Story: Taking a car in!

Once upon a time in a bustling city, Mark found himself facing an unexpected challenge. His trusty old car, a reliable companion for years, was showing signs of wear and tear. The engine occasionally emitted strange noises, the check engine light blinked ominously, and on one particularly sweltering afternoon, the temperature gauge shot up dangerously, indicating an overheating problem. It was time to seek professional help.

Mark knew he couldn't delay any longer. He grabbed his smartphone and scrolled through his contacts to find the number for Miller's Auto Repair, a well-known local shop. He had heard excellent reviews about their expertise in handling car problems.

With a deep breath, he dialed the number, and a friendly voice answered on the other end.

"Miller's Auto Repair, how can we assist you today?"

"Hello," Mark began, "I'm having some issues with my car. It's been overheating, making strange noises, and the check engine light is on. I think it's time for some maintenance."

The receptionist, named Lisa, listened attentively and replied, "I'm sorry to hear that you're experiencing these problems. We'd be happy to help. Let's schedule an appointment for you. When would be a convenient time for you to bring your vehicle in?"

Mark checked his calendar. "How about next Tuesday at 10:00 AM? Does that work for you?"

Lisa quickly checked their schedule. "Yes, Tuesday at 10:00 AM is available. We'll have a technician ready to diagnose and address the issues with your car. Can I have your name and the make and model of your vehicle, please?"

Mark provided the information and added, "I also suspect I might need an oil change and maybe a check on the battery. Can you include that in the appointment?"

"Of course, Mark. We'll make sure to inspect all necessary car parts, including the engine, battery, and more. Is there anything else you'd like us to look at?"

Mark paused for a moment, then remembered, "My tires have been losing air more often than usual. Can you check them as well?"

"Absolutely, Mark. We'll perform a thorough inspection to ensure your vehicle is in top condition. Thank you for choosing Miller's Auto Repair, and we'll see you on Tuesday at 10:00 AM."

Mark thanked Lisa for her help and hung up the phone, relieved that he had taken the first step in addressing his car troubles. With an appointment scheduled and a reputable auto shop at his side, he felt confident that his faithful vehicle would soon be running smoothly once again.

As Tuesday approached, Mark counted down the days. He knew that with the skilled hands at Miller's Auto Repair and their expertise in car parts and common car problems, his beloved car was in good hands.

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