It’s no secret that car repair scams are a common occurrence. In fact, they’re so common that most of us have probably been scammed at some point in our lives. But what are these scams, exactly? Why do they exist? Who falls victim to them? And most importantly, how can we protect ourselves from them? Let’s explore the most common car repair scams and find out!
Major Car Repair Scam Themes
Car repair scams tend to fall into a few different categories. Let’s take a look at the biggest themes we see among these scams:
Fake Total Loss Scam
This is by far the most common car scam out there, and very difficult for consumers to avoid without doing their homework beforehand. Here’s how this scam works: the mechanic will convince the victim that their car is a total loss because of damage that doesn’t really exist. They do this by pointing out tiny dents and scratches that could easily be repaired, but which they claim are signs of major structural damage.
Once taken in by the idea that their car is beyond repair, consumers are willing to pay for “full” replacement instead of spending time and money on repairs. This type of scam usually affects those without any experience working on cars themselves-we’ll talk about how to protect yourself from such scams later on!
Brake Scooter Scam
In this scam, the mechanic will tell you something called a brake scooter is a major problem with your brakes. The mechanic will explain that a brake scooter is caused by uneven wear on your brake pads, and can lead to further problems if not addressed.
Once the mechanic has convinced you to replace all of your brake pads, they proceed to sell you aftermarket parts at much higher prices than retail. These parts are usually inferior-quality knockoffs bought online or out of someone’s trunk, but they’re still more expensive than what you could buy yourself!
Selling Fake Parts Scam
Finally, there’s the selling fake parts scam. This one’s pretty straightforward. Crooked mechanics will attempt to convince unsuspecting customers that their existing auto parts need replacing-and then try selling them overpriced parts at a premium.
How Can We Avoid These Scams?
It can be very difficult to avoid these types of scams without being an expert on auto repair yourself. Mechanic education is not standardized from state to state or province to province, so there’s no guarantee that you’re going to get a reliable diagnosis from your mechanic-no matter how well they seem to know what they’re doing!
Luckily, there are some simple things we can all do before spending money on car repairs. Check out our previous article that talks about how you can outsmart auto repair scammers out of devious deeds.