For those unfamiliar with how vehicles work, it can be very easy to be tricked by mechanics into paying for unnecessary repairs and maintenance. There are a few common tricks employed by the nefarious that everyone should be aware of. There are also a few precautions that can be taken to assure you are not taken advantage of in the future.
Commonly Used Ploys
Simply Over Charging: It’s sad to think of, but statistics show that if a person is going to be ripped off, or a bill is padded, chances are those being taken advantage of will be either a woman or an elderly person. With that understood, it would behoove any person to try and get a few written estimates to compare.
Also when comparing estimates, you will want to make sure that everything compares equally. Such as the parts being used, and any accreditations they may have. Just being aware of the cost of a certain part can raise alarm if it is exceedingly high.
Air and Cabin Filters: One common part mechanics will often lie to say what needs replacing is a vehicles filter. It is believed that if a shop chooses to lie about the condition of an air filter, they are going to have filthy filters lying around to show customers.
Unless you are driving under extremely dusty or dirty conditions, you shouldn’t need to replace the filter more often than every 15,000 – 25,000 miles. If possible, try to keep an eye on your car as the mechanics work. If you notice that they haven’t taken your filter out, or you know it is relatively new, and they show you a filthy one, they may be lying to you.
Worn Brake Pads: Brake pads are about the same as filters, a dishonest mechanic will show you worn brake pads that are not from your vehicle. Again, unless you know that you just changed them, or that you can tell those weren’t the ones you had on your vehicle, it is going to be difficult to determine. So a little knowledge of your own car will go a long way.
Brake pads generally can be driven on for around 30,000 to 70,000 miles. You also shouldn’t be overly concerned if your brakes seem to be squealing. This will occur if your vehicle has been sitting for a while, or if dust or dirt is on the pad.
Coolant Flush: A vehicles coolant may be one of the least understood bits to a vehicle. Coolant is designed in some cases to stay in a vehicle for up to 150,000 miles. Mechanics may also say that you need to be topped off. But be careful with this, many different coolants don’t mix well together. It can actually decrease the overall life span of the coolant if two different brands are mixed.
Plugs and belt replacement: Dishonest mechanics will often recommend having your spark plugs and belts replaced. It’s not that they shouldn’t be replaced; they just usually recommend that they be replaced far too often.
Most spark plugs need to be replaced every 30,000 to 40,000 miles. Belts are a bit more dependent upon usage, and the stress at which you put them under. But hopefully your car log will mention the last time the plugs have been replaced, and you can ask to see the belt itself to try and notice if it is worn or not. Again, they may be showing you a different belt, but that’s really about the only way to tell.
Precautions As A Safeguard
Ask If The Work Can Wait: This is a simple question that can be asked which may, or may not reveal a mechanics intentions, depending on what the work to be done exactly. If it is critical for a vehicle to properly function, or to function safely, the answer will depend on whether this question holds any weight.
If the mechanic says that the work can wait, with no danger to your car or yourself, then chances are that he/she is being honest. As usually, a dishonest mechanic will not want you to leave without having spent as much money as they could get you to spend.
Ask To See The Problem: This is another potential means to catch a dishonest mechanic. Simply asking to see the problem may quickly result in you knowing exactly where the mechanic stands. If they hesitate or fumble around, that should raise a bit of warning.
However, if they calmly walk you right over to your car and show you the supposed problem, then chances are that they are telling the truth. Body language in these instances are critical, so paying attention to a persons demeanor as they speak to you can end up saving you a pretty penny in the end. Intuition is also important. Follow your gut; if something smells fishy, and looks fishy, than it’s possible that it’s probably a fish.
Get A Second Opinion: The easiest and best way to catch a dishonest mechanic is by simply taking your vehicle to get a second opinion. If their opinion matches what the original mechanic had said, then lo and behold, he wasn’t dishonest. But if the next opinion differs vastly, that should raise some warning bells and you should keep your guard up.
However, if the second mechanics says nothing that is the same as the first, you may need to get a third opinion to figure out the real problem. You at least want two mechanics to have the same opinion before you choose one. Because you may be taking the advice of just another dishonest mechanic, which you won’t know until two can agree upon a problem.
Laundry List Of Unexpected Problems: If you take your car in for some simple maintenance and the mechanic comes back with a laundry list of things that need to be fixed, this should raise an alarm. Especially if you haven’t noticed your car to be acting funny at all, why would all these problems need fixing if you hadn’t noticed anything to be wrong?
A common theme here is that they will offer you X number of things that need to be repaired, knowing you’re not going to fix them all. They assume however that you will choose a few of the things to fix, which in the end, for them is better than none.
Hopefully this article can help to keep you on your guard when dealing with mechanics in general. It should also be noted that not all mechanics are dishonest, but a few bad ones can certainly ruin it for the rest.
The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi, an SEO tactician and SEM strategist. If you enjoyed this article, you can follow me on twitter @JakabokBotch. I am writing on behalf of AAMCO Colorado, where honesty is their best policy. They offer some of the fairest Transmission Repair Prices in Colorado.