You take your car to the mechanic; it’s been making a funny grinding noise when you press on the gas pedal. The mechanic tells you what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed, then socks you with the estimate.
How can you tell he’s not embellishing a lot of the “diagnosis”? You know nothing about cars. You have to take his word for it. What if the second opinion is also from a scammer and sounds a lot like the first opinion? You’re screwed.
An article at carbuying.jalopnik.com describes five auto repair scams.
Charging for repairs you don’t need.
- The mechanic says he fixed the problem.
- The problem still persists.
- You take the car back and he “diagnoses” the “real” problem and fixes that.
- The problem still exists.
- The game repeats but finally the issue is corrected, but you get charged for the first two “repairs,” which never had to be made in the first place. The mechanic scammed you, and this is illegal.
Saying something is wrong when it’s not.
- What an easy way for a mechanic to make money and get away with it, especially if the “something wrong” is a small repair. He can really clean up if he pulls this stunt on dozens of customers.
- A version of this is to find something out of place or not working optimally and tell you it needs to be replaced—even though a repair will fix the problem.
- This is illegal in many states.
Overcharging for parts or labor.
- It’s so easy for a mechanic to do this. How do you know that the four-hour job wasn’t really a two-hour job?
- Do you know how much a shock absorber or new brakes should cost?
- Though prices for the same product vary from one shop to the next, consider yourself scammed when the charge is way over the norm.
- You also shouldn’t pay a mechanic for his inexperience. If he honestly took four hours to do a job that should have taken two hours, you should not be charged for the extra two hours.
- Get a price and labor estimate before authorizing the work. AND GET IT IN WRITING.
- Yes, mechanics have been known to steal valuables including performance features of the vehicle. Even taking a candy bar is illegal.
- The shop may tell you to file an insurance claim. They’re scamming you because this isn’t how it should work. Since they had possession of your car, the onus is on them that something is missing.
- Don’t leave valuables in your car.
- In your car, that is.
- After the work is completed, the mechanic takes your wheels for a spin.
Damaging your car by accident.
- They owe you to fix the damage.
If you believe you were scammed, call your lawyer, not your insurance company.