Signs Your Mechanic Is Cheating You
Anybody that owns a car knows that a trip to the service shop is inevitable. It's pretty simple to do the basics, but the average car owner doesn't know anything about the size of their car's gas tank, let alone about what's under that hood. Although some good guys exist, many of the car dealerships and other mechanics see this as a chance to prey on the vulnerable and uneducated. We want to protect you from overpaying for parts and repairs you don't even need. Here are signs that your mechanic is cheating you
- He Won't Show You Old Parts
Oh, you had a crack in your headers? Really? Hmm, did he actually take out the part and show you the damage? No? Well then it probably wasn't broken in the first place, and he just put in a brand new N50000 part for no reason.
2) Fixing Something Unrelated to the Initial Issue
The classic line, "yeah, we saw that you need to replace the belt, that's what was squeaking, but while we were under the car, we noticed the tie rod over here is about to break, so you need to replace that immediately." Dude, just fix what we came here to get fixed and then we'll talk further investments.
3) Name Brand Everything
There are a couple reasons this could turn out terribly. The mechanic might convince the average person that he or she needs XYZ brake pads by explaining that you can stop on a dime to avoid the idiot ahead in the minivan who stopped for no reason or to check out that super babe just passed running in her sports bra.
If you're somebody that's worried about getting ripped, we'll assume you won't know names of car replacement parts, so you have no idea if this "quality" brand is even good. Even if it were the best, the average driver doesn't need something that a drifter or drag racer is putting into his car. You'll either be getting overcharged for a shitty product or you'll be getting something that's not necessary.
4) Things Get Personal
Don't ever let a mechanic bully you into using that particular service garage. If you're truly worried about hurting the car, you can have it towed for a second opinion or call up other places for an off-site evaluation. Mechanics might try to even suggest that you're putting your family or other loved ones in danger by not having something fixed immediately. Yo, back off, homie! You don't know my life, so don't try to make decisions for me.
5) Flushes and Top-Offs
In addition to the garage replacing that coilover spring on your Land Rover, there will often be somebody who suggests you take advantage of a sweet limited time offer to flush your coolant or top off all of your fluids. A lot of times, this isn't needed and you end up spending between N5000-N10000 for somebody to open your cap and think to themselves, "nah, that looks good."
6) They Use, "You Wouldn't Understand," or "It's Complicated."
Most people don't know shit about what's under that hood of that 2004 Chevrolet they've had for four years. They couldn't point out the distributor from the alternator or the radiator cap from the dipstick. It's an unfortunate reality that mechanics can easily prey on. You can' trust them enough to just accept the fact that the dude can't simplify and break down what's wrong with your car for you. You're paying a lot of money to have your car fixed at his garage, so you deserve to know exactly what would happen for the fix.
7) It's Always the Biggest Possible Problem
When you role into the shop hearing a small rattle under the car, the mechanic might come back telling you that your catalytic converter is shot, that your muffler is rusted, and that the exhaust pipes have holes in them. When you hear words like "all," "entire," "full," or "whole," you should head to another shop stat to double-check.
8) They say, "I Wouldn't Drive That Car Anywhere Else"
This is almost a threat. It's intended to scare or frighten you into leaving your car there and letting those guys have free reign over your vehicle. If they know that you'll fall for this, then they know they have a great chance to overcharge you for a bunch of stuff you didn't need. Find out from somebody else whether or not it's okay to move your car, then make your decision.
9) The Repair Takes Forever
The most expensive "tool" in the shop? That hand and arm that's bolting your water pump back into place. Almost all shops charge a specific rate for labor, so if you're told that something like a radiator leak or a bad alternator is going to take a week, be skeptical. The shop is probably just racking up the hours to overcharge you. Those types of fixes take an hour or two max with the resources they have at their disposal.
10) Repairs Come in Groups
Ever hear the, "well, this is the part you need replaced, but to get to that, we have to take this out, and that thing under there is broken, we have to replace that part as well, put in all new gaskets, and refill the fluid"? Yeah, that's probably not true, and you're probably getting tricked into paying for extra parts and labor.
Here's What To Do About it
If possible you should be using a mechanic that has been recommended by somebody who knows cars. Even gearheads have their limits and are forced to pay a couple extra bucks every once in a while to do something that's too big with their selection of tools. If they're cool with the guy, then you should be able to trust him. If nobody has any suggestions, have somebody who knows cars come with you when you take your car into the shop. Have the mechanic explain what needs to be done, and if your auto-savvy friend approves, then you're good to go.
If neither of these are options, get multiple opinions. Take your car to the local, family-owned shop, a big chain, and that one that you've seen. More times than not, you'll find out who is overcharging and over-fixing. Once you find your mechanic, make sure you stay loyal and treat him or her with respect. With a stronger relationship, you'll not only learn more about your car, but won't have to worry about getting screwed over.