It may not be the majority of mechanic shops that are dishonest in their business practices, but there sure are enough that every car owner should be on guard. A quality mechanic can be a lifesaver for those of us who aren’t skilled enough in auto mechanics to handle our own repairs. But by the same token, a crooked mechanic can rob you blind, and possibly cause even more damage to your vehicle. These are a few key ways to avoid auto service shop scams:
Of all businesses, mechanics probably benefit most from word of mouth. Most people have had experiences with a mechanic shop that didn’t go as well as they’d hoped. And now, they’re on the lookout for one that’s acceptable. But when they’ve found a mechanic that’s trustworthy, friendly, and knowledgeable, they will refuse to go anywhere else. When seeking a new mechanic shop, seek people who can give those types of recommendations. Ask them to describe their experience. You can usually tell the quality of a mechanic by the enthusiasm of the customer. The Internet is a great source for finding out information on a company. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they’ve had any complaints filed against them.
Half the cost of any repair job is the parts. Many mechanics will see this as an opportunity to scam a customer. The part(s) that a customer is charged for doesn’t always end up being the part they use on your car. Of course, the customer is being charged for the expensive part anyway. The mechanics are confident that you will never be able to tell the difference. Worse than using a cheaper part, sometimes they won’t change the part at all. Instead, using the same one and charging you like it’s new. One way to avoid this, is when given an estimate for a replacement, ask for the old part when they’re done. You have every right to the old part of your car, and this should force the mechanic to be honest with the correct replacement.
Whenever signing an estimate for work to be done, make sure the mechanic fills out the price quote. What some mechanics will do is inflate the price with unnecessary extra work, then make sure you’re stuck with the payment, because you signed for it. So, make sure you are never signing for work that doesn’t have a price, which can be made up later. Sometimes when people take their car in, a mechanic will see the original problem, but they will also look for additional ways to make a buck. This isn’t always a bad thing, but doing work without prior notification, or doing anything that’s unnecessary is unethical. One way to avoid being overcharged is to always get a second and third estimate or opinion. Chances are, you will not be the victim of a scam attempt two or three times in a row.