Spotting A Car Repair Scam a Mile Away
If you were to pay a repair garage $2,000 to have your transmission replaced, would you really know if they replaced it with an old unit salvaged from the junkyard for $200? If you went in to have a blown headlamp changed and they found that you were overdue for an oil change, would you wonder if you really needed it? If they told you that they changed your air filter and showed you the dirty one that they took out, could you be sure it wasn’t just a prop?
Car repair scams are particularly easy to pull off because cars are complex, and require specialized knowledge. You would have a hard time ensuring fair treatment if you were a man, and the mechanic assumed that you knew something about cars. If you’re a woman you are at a further disadvantage, because mechanics tend to assume mechanical incompetence in women. You could lose thousands over a lifetime. You need to take action, and make sure that you get a fair shake.
Knowledge is power
When it comes to finding fair treatment at an auto repair shop, an on-board diagnostics scanner is your best friend. An OBD scanner is a device that you plug into the scanner port under the hood to be able to tap into the car’s internal computer, and every scrap of information that it has about possible areas of malfunction. When you know what’s wrong with your car, it can be hard for the mechanic to try to trick you.
Get a quote first
When you see a repair garage make an unnecessarily high quote upfront, you know right away that there’s something wrong there. Use a quote search tool such as whocanfixmycar.com to request quotes from garages all over the country for the work that you have in mind. Whoever makes the most reasonable quote should go on your shortlist.
Check out a review website
Review sites such as Yelp UK attract the users of various services who want to review the way they’ve been treated. If a service center on your shortlist seems to get uniformly good reviews, it would be a great idea to give them your business.
Tell them you want your parts back
To make sure that a garage isn’t recommending unnecessary work, you want to make sure that you tell them to clear all repairs with you first. you also need to ask to be given whatever parts they replace.
Find a second opinion
An opinion from another good mechanic can be a great way to ensure that you aren’t being ripped off. At the very least, you could ask around on the Internet. That’s what the forums are there for.
It’s important to understand that mechanics do not usually possess the technical skills that they claim to have. A Which? survey, for instance, found that 98% of mechanics missed simple but vital points on cars through routine service visits, such as brake fluid level problems. Rather than be fearful of your lack of competence, then, you have every reason to be fully skeptical when you go in for a visit. You need to do what it takes to protect yourself — read up, use apps and other methods to ensure that you are treated fairly.
Patrick Fox has extensive knowledge working in the second hand car trade. Recently semi-retired, he is enjoying filling up some of his spare time by writing auto based articles.