• Jun 24, 2013


You go to a mechanic to investigate a weird rattling sound, and suddenly the repair costs are stacking up for problems and replacement parts you never knew existed. Do you trust the knowledge and experience of the mechanic or do you investigate for yourself?

A little legwork can go a long way towards saving money on auto repairs. John Hutchinson of Red Rocket Auto Tech explains how mechanics are taking their customers for a ride using a technique called 'dirty parts'. Dirty parts are parts that come from your car covered in grime and oil from use. A mechanic shows the dirty part to a customer as if there is something wrong with it, when really the part is perfectly good, if only suffering from a cosmetic problem.

When it comes to auto repairs you can save yourself some money, and grief, by being pro active and educating yourself. Follow these steps:

Ask Questions. Ask what tests were performed on the part, what the parts limits were, and why the part is not in good working order. If the mechanic can show you exactly what is wrong with it, rather than just the over all appearance you may be on the up and up. Ask how imperative it is to get the part replace and how your driving will be affected if it goes out, they may be making a mountain out of a molehill.

See The New Part. If the part needs to be replaced and you're satisfied with the explanations from your mechanic ask to see the new part being put into the car. Sometimes shops will charge customers for new parts while using refurbished or junkyard parts in the actual repair. You want to see the part in its original packaging before it goes into your vehicle. Anything marked Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM is preferable, as your brand's company distributes these parts for use in your car.

Shop Around For Repair Costs. A recent study from the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management and AutoMD found that when a customer displayed knowledge of how much a repair should cost they were consistently quoted lower amounts. By calling other local repair shops and getting multiple estimates you could be able to get a lower price from your own mechanic.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 136 Comments
      JACKASS!!!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Which one of the AOL Auto writers got hammered by a mechanic? this is the 4th or 5th article on thieving ripoff mechanics, but there is absolutely no valuable information, Maybe a mechanic need to write an article about being ripped off by a shoddy writer...WTG AOL!!!
        raal246
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JACKASS!!!
        What did you expect? Huffy has writers 'telling' us we are at fault for global warming, at fault that there is people dying because of the rich and wealthy not sharing, etc. I have yet to read an article with substance, facts, truth or void of agenda..., just inform the people the TRUTH and Facts . I remain here to point the fradulent attempt at journalism.
      thundarbp
      • 1 Year Ago
      i agree whole hartedly with joseph.what we get alot is the something for nothing customers.the my horn or something does not work since you worked on it customers.and the customer who tryes to fix it only to make it a lot worse than if he brought it in to be checked.last week a customer put his own thermostat in and was proud to say so.until the car over heated and cracked the heads.the thermostat was in backward.this is why we go to school and get ase certifications.any one that would remove a good ac compressor to sell a new is a despirate shop owner.fix them the right way first and they will come to you
      • 1 Year Ago
      Great article. I have to take my car in soon. And to the person about getting the old parts, thank U. It's not only repair shops, you have to be vigilant about every move you make when handing out your money.
      Your Momma
      • 1 Year Ago
      I love articles like these. Making the everyday common person an auto expert. But I will tell you all this here and now, when you attempt to fix your vehicle and you fail, Most shops will charge you to repair your mess up then charge you again to properly repair the vehicle. Do yourself a favor, if you cant afford to repair your vehicle, get bus tokens. Cause a broken vehicle on the road is a danger to us all.
        Joseph
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Your Momma
        I have no problem with people who repair their own vehicles, if they have the skills and tools to do so. But please, dont ask to borrow my tools, or expect me to teach you how to do so. And when you do need to use a professional, bear in mind that they have a huge overhead to pay and cannot sell you the parts for what you would pay down at the local Auto Zone. Please do not ask me to install YOUR parts. Not only do I depend on the margin from the sale of that part to stay in business, I have run into way too many costly liability, warranty, customer satisfaction, and productivity problems to make doing that worthwhile. You walking in with a half dissassembled car and a box of parts you got God only knows where is a losing proposition for me everytime
        propackage
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Your Momma
        or buy a car with extended warrantee. That makes it a payment and not a decision
        Bert
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Your Momma
        Well Momma, you are talking with no knowledge of what has happened to many people over the years and is still happening. My mother was the victim of a "so called" reputable dealership which took advantage of a senior citizen. This was approximately 30 years ago and I didn't live in the same town, but she made an appointment to check out why her A/C wasn't working well. The shop manager explained that the belts were old and needed replacing. He also told her that the work had to be performed by the dealership because it was not a simple task. When she went to pick up her vehicle and pay the bill, she was presented with a enormous charge of some $450 +. When she complained and informed them that she was on Social Security and Medicaid, they obliged by giving her a "Senior Citizens" discount and only charged her $350. Well, it turned out that the A/C only worked for a couple of months, at which time I happened to be in town and inspected the situation and found that the belts were never even changed, the obviously years old belts were never even changed and on top of that, I picked up new belts (2) and replaced them in 15 mins at a cost of less than $25.
      • 1 Year Ago
      You should be ashamed of yourselves portraying the industry as if most people who service cars are dishonest and opportunists. Did it ever occur to you that there are dishonest people in most jobs that exist? Does this make everyone a thief? An honest mechanic is your ally, your friend. You may not like having to spend money on your car for something that needs repair or replacement, but would you rather be broken down on the side of the road? Cause more damage by the marginal part failing? or just plain be unsafe? I don't want you driving next to my family on the road if that is your choice !!
      kenyng
      • 1 Year Ago
      After being "burnt" with a cheap replacement part i started to buy my own parts......
        Joseph
        • 1 Year Ago
        @kenyng
        As long as you are willing to install them yourself, I dont have a problem with that, just please dont expect me to do it for you, at least not at my normal labor rate, and dont expect me to warranty the job either. I have been burned too many times by customers who brought in their own parts that proved to be defective, cheap or just plain wrong
      FSHNT21
      • 1 Year Ago
      A point to ponder: Why is the auto repair business held to such a high standard and so much scorn... ? Doctors and Lawyers don't have a business, they have a "PRACTICE".... Auto repair shops are not allowed to "practice", they are expected to fix everything right the first time, have it done an hour ago and charge less than the price of a pack of cigarettes or they are deemed "a rip off"... Yet a patient rarely. if ever complains when a doctors initial diagnosis and treatment doesn't cure them the very same day as their visit. They simply schedule more "tests" or prescribe another medication, the patient pays their co-pay or for another visit, another medication and starts the process over again. Yet that's not considered a "rip off"... An auto repair shop is not given that latitude. The "SINCE YOU..." rule is invoked immediately. "since you replaced my wiper blades, my tailpipe fell off. You MUST have done something to my car while it was here..." and the shop is expected to replace the tailpipe, absorb the cost of the repair and pay the customer for their inconvenience (the "penalty clause"). What other business would you have the nerve to make those demands ??? Name ANY other business where that doesn't happen on a daily basis... I DARE you ! And Lawyers...? Lawyers charge for their TIME, whether they really had to spend the amount of time they billed for or not, regardless of the outcome... and you know what...? They get PAID. Didn't like the outcome ? No problem... we'll file an appeal. Guess what... ? Right again... they get PAID... again ! Over and over again until either they win (for which there is usually a 40-45% fee charged for any "recovery" or the client runs out of money. Same deal.... either way, they get PAID. AND... many time the costs for all this legal wrangling is borne by their client, so they risk NOTHING. The argument will be they are being paid for their knowledge. TRUE, but how is that different than a mechanic ? Mechanic's are expected to know EVERYTHING about every system and component on every car (independent shops are expected to have this knowledge about every car produced by every manufacturer under the sun) and be able to pinpoint the problem the first time every time. There is more computer capability in the average car today than it took for the rocket NASA sent to the moon and back. Ask your doctor or Lawyer to troubleshoot your PC, or you, for that matter. Reasonably sure the majority would need to "practice"... Think about THAT before you go off on a repair shop or mechanic. They're ALSO entitled to be paid for their knowledge and their time.
        Bort
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FSHNT21
        Very well said indeed.
        RIE RIE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FSHNT21
        The only thing you left out is when you sit with lawyer and want to discuss your case he charges you by the minute to talk to you but when that same lawyer wants to talk for a half an hour about his car and repeats himself again and again you don't get paid for time lost
      max13722
      • 1 Year Ago
      I've had friends come to me after they've been to a shop that told them they needed new rotors and brake pads. Almost 98% of the time when I take a look, there isn't even any visual wear on the rotors and they are still with in tolerance for either being "turned" or not having to be replaced at all. I've been doing brakes for over 20 years and my price is still $30 for the labor. (disc only) and that's even if I do all four, although usually it's just the front. Sometimes if they are so inclined I'll show them how to change it themselves so they don't have to come to me again. It usually takes about 20-30 minutes to do everything and have the person rolling again. Some people are just greedy and have no morals.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @max13722
        PLEASE.. help me understand something I have been wondering about for years,. Your gonna do, up to all 4 brake pads in 20 - 30 minutes!! You can't even take all 4 tires off and reinstall TORQUE TO SPEC in that time. Your gonna remove all 4 calipers repad them, clean the slides remove rust ridge from the rotor so it doesnt tear up the new pad and TORQUE ALL THEM TO SPEC.. really.. BEEN SUED YET? In MN your liable if that car get into an accident and the brakes did not function well enough to avoid the accident... ALL THAT LIABILITY FOR $30.. Yes, a back yard mechanic or the owner can be sued or help liable for a death... Wow.. MY HAT GOES OF TO YOU FOR YOUR GUTZY NESS.. I'm not going to jail for involantary manslaughter for a $30 brake job... Read the trade magzine Brake and Equ. they will tell you all about libaity on brakes. It's big. My insurance company has a special rider for brake work. With or with out that rider I could still sit in jail.. NOT GREEDY JUST WANT TO STAY OUT OF JAIL AND NOT PAY LIBAITY PAYMNET TO SOMEONE THE REST OF MY LIFE
          • 1 Year Ago
          Very well put!! I'm an A.S.E. certified mechanic find a good shop there are good ones out there don't trust your life and your families life to a backyard so called mechanic!! You get what you pay for!!
          Michael Zack
          • 1 Year Ago
          I have owned a repair shop for 30 years. If I had a technician that had completed ONE axle brake job, let alone 2 in 20-30 minutes I would fire him. There is no way in the world you can do a proper, thorough job in that time. In these parts we call them HACKS and have no use for them
        Sue
        • 1 Year Ago
        @max13722
        Are you a mechanic? And yes there are shisters who make good MECHANICS look bad!
      aldebaran042363
      • 1 Year Ago
      most repair shops are honest especially the ones who been around awhile have a good following and use word of mouth advertising instead of newspaper, radio and so on. but lets take a look at the medical field ! doctors and hospitals billing insurance for unnecessary test or tests that were never performed ! they seem to fly under the radar all the time then everyone wonders why health insurance is though the roof !
      • 1 Year Ago
      I just have a question for Quennie Jeannie. What if you quote a job at the published book time of say 2.0 hrs. For whatever reason, the job takes 4 hours to complete. I'm sure you will pay your tech for the 4 hours, but how does the shop make up for the lost hours?
        • 1 Year Ago
        My husband has worked in the auto industry for 15yrs. If a shop pays their guys by book hr, it often means the techs may be short changed. But if they are efficient they can make good money. If a job calls for 4 and you can do it in 2, you get paid the 4 for only two hrs of work but again, the opposite is true as well. If the job calls for 2 and it takes you 6, you're getting paid for 2. Now some shops pay their guys a flat rate for showing up each day plus for the hrs they turn.
      ppllaanntt
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm sick of seeing articles like this.Now every person that brings their car to a garage thinks theyre getting screwed and that's not the case.Ive worked on vehicles in the past and it sucks! You could replace U-joints then the person comes back a week later with a radiator leak and its your fault.People are just plain idiots when it comes to auto repair.If I saw a potential problem with a car and suggested maintenance at that time they would say 'no' because they thought I wasn't needed,Then a month later the person would come back and ask why it wasn't taken care of sooner.BULL.
      cautomo200
      • 1 Year Ago
      Amazing...we have an auto repair shop, and have never had this kind of "distrust"...We work hard, repair cars honestly & have more work than we can handle....and that is the key to any good business...honesty, fairness & hard work....the customers word of mouth/referrals keep our shop busy & people actually enjoy coming in for service. Isn't that the way it should be??
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