Classic Mechanic Scams
Taking your car to an auto mechanic can be a little stressful even for someone that knows a lot about cars, but for those that have no idea what’s under the hood, it can be downright traumatic experience.
While the majority of auto-mechanics are trustworthy guys and gals, it can be incredibly easy for a mechanic to trick you into having unneeded repairs, after all, they’re supposed to be experts in their field, why wouldn’t you take their word as the honest truth? As the old adage goes, “Trust but Verify” – so goes our advice toward dealing with auto mechanics.
With newer technology, there’s new scam being created every day in the auto repair world, here we’re going to cover a number of the common scams that mechanics have run on unsuspecting customers over the years, knowing them might even save you from being tricked yourself someday.
Oil Change Scam
“Can I Check Your Oil?” The setup goes like this: When the gas station attendants check your oil they put their thumb on the dipstick so that it leaves a little space when they put the stick into the motor for the test. A thumbs width looks like your more than a quart low, you really need to change your oil now because the old oil is too thin and leaking out through your gaskets.
An experienced scammer can do this trick while you’re standing there watching him, he’s done it a million times before you got there. Even if you don’t decide to have him change your oil, he’ll have some high priced house brand oil that he gets a couple of dollars commission on ready to top up your oil before you go on your way. It’s a good idea that everyone learns how to check their own oil and do it often.
If the gas station attendant says you need some right away, tell him you’ll take it straight to your mechanic and thank him for his time.
“Your Engine Sounds Like It’s Missing, Let Me Take A Look”
Spark plug disconnects are easy to pull out part way, causing an instant problem upon startup. A bad-apple mechanic can then spend all day replacing the rotor, cap, spark plugs, wires and other parts, only to reconnect the part he disabled at the end to “fix” your problem. It’s easy to run up $200-$500 on tune-up parts and labor, especially if he’s jacking the prices up as he goes.
Squeaking Brakes Don’t Always Need Replacement
Many disc brakes will squeak even though they are working fine and have thousands of miles left before they wear out. Sometimes all they need is a quick shot of brake cleaner to remove built up dust. The only way you’ll really know is to watch the mechanic remove the wheel and actually look at the pads.
Disc brakes are usually quick and easy to replace, and high-quality pads can be purchased on sale for low prices at the parts store. When you get snagged at the local mechanic’s place he might be looking to make several hundred dollars in profit on just one job. Meanwhile, a high volume national chain may have brake jobs on sale for $59 per axle, saving you hundreds of dollars.
Getting scammed at the auto mechanic isn’t fun. Our advice, always, is to do your research on a potential mechanic. However, if for some reason you’re in a bind and need help from the nearest auto repair shop, make sure you stay involved with the repair, ideally right there with the mechanic in order to keep an eye on any potential scam.
Scammers work best when their customers are in the dark – so stay informed and – when in doubt – go for a second opinion.