Whether you are taking an automobile for a quick tune up, exhaust change, regular service or major repair there are a few points to watch out. There are practices used by some mechanics that are well known in the industry. They pray on your lack of auto technical knowledge and get you spend more money than necessary at this visit.
Some crafty repair shop owners can push the boundaries of what they can get away with and try their luck with you. You need to know these practices so that you can understand what is going on. Otherwise, you may naively believe that they are looking after your best interest when they suggest a solution for you or carry out a certain fix.
Here are a few of the tactics you may come across unsuspectingly.
1. Common Upsell Tactics
Almost anywhere in the world you see oil change, tune up and auto inspection services offered at next to nothing prices. Why do you think they are offering these at a cost of pulling a car in to the garage? The answer is because they know they will find a way to sell you more expensive services once they get it inside the shop. This is as common a tactic as it gets.
Be extra careful when a service offered is too cheap. You should find a decent mechanic and pay the full price instead of making the mistake of going for the low advertised figure. They will suggest all sorts of repairs and replacements that are not necessary to make up for the low introduction offer. By the time you drive out the door you may end up paying a lot more and swear never to come back.
2. Inflated Bills
One of the common practices is that they quote for the full service. The customer believes that it includes all the costs of materials as well. But, the garage only quotes for the labor cost. This is a point you need to check when you are getting an estimate. Does it include cost of oil, filter replacement and any other changes necessary? They should know what is needed looking at the age and mileage of the car.
If possible get a quote with parts to be changed are listed and included. Otherwise, you will receive a long list of items they claim they changed and you pay three or four times more. The problem is that you have no idea if it is really changed or not. Some honest mechanics would keep the parts they have taken out of the car and show it to you as they know the problems with some of their crook counterparts.
3. Top Prices for Low Quality Parts and Services
Some of them can fit low quality replacement parts and charge you the full cost of an original. Replacement parts are sometimes less than half price of the original manufacturer ones. Even worse, they may make no replacement and charge you for it anyway. For example, they may just pressure clean a diesel engine filter and put back and charge you for a new one.
If the tradesmen are crafty they will find a way to empty your pockets. Therefore, it is highly advisable to get recommendations from friends, family and colleagues before you choose. You can find reviews for any types of businesses online these days if you are new to the area and don’t know enough people to give you reliable recommendations.
Not only you will be charged extortionate prices but also you will get bad customer service, no guarantee for the work and impolite responses when you confront them. If they have no reputation to protect they will not care what you think or say about them. A reputable company will offer guarantees for the work and after service if you have any other related issues.
4. Unauthorized Repairs
This is one area you need to address before you leave it in the shop. You need to tell them that no repairs should be done without calling and confirming with you. This should be obvious but people take the way they like when there are no instructions. Be clear with why you brought the car to the garage and ask them to deal with only that issue and report the rest.
Years ago I had a cheap starter car and was working hard to make a living. I took it for a small repair. I had no idea I was up for a big surprise when I went to pick it up. They told me that they had to change the cooling radiator and some other parts because there was a whole in it. The whole bill was more than the money I paid for the car. I said to them that they could keep the car since they already have the key.
They told me that it was my car and I had to pay for it. I pointed out that first of all they should have checked with me before starting. And secondly, they are mechanics and should know how much this car is worth and what repairs make sense. Why would I want to spend more on it than the vehicle’s current value? They substantially reduced their bill and I paid as I needed a car next day. To this day, I am not sure if they have actually changed the radiator since they have not showed me the old one.
This was a good lesson for me at that young age. I shouldn’t have just handed over the keys and left it up to them. So, you should always get estimates and work on authorized work basis. Most good garages would charge you a minimal diagnostic fee. Afterwards they tell you the problem and the cost to solve it. If you want, you can ask them to fix it during diagnostics if it is small problem. For example, you can tell them to get on with it if it is going to cost no more than couple of hundred dollars. And instruct them to call you if it is over this figure.
5. Misleading Advice and Pressure for Unnecessary Repairs
Most motorists are aware of pressures mechanics apply. They know that you are scared of auto accidents and breakdowns and they play on your fears. They usually start with “by the way, so on so needs to be fixed shortly as well, do you want us to deal with it now?” Unless you trust the advice given to you, you should thank them and get a second opinion.
They will tell you that the car will let you down if you don’t get it fixed quickly. In many cases, another mechanic will see no problem with the issue they raised and tell you not to fix anything that is not broken.
If you don’t want to worry about any of these issues make sure that you are leaving it to capable hands. There are thousands of highly qualified and reliable mechanics and at least two or three of them are nearby. Take the time to find them. If you ever come across a bad one, report them to whichever trade body they are belong to or leave online reviews to help other unsuspecting motorists. Good luck next time.