- Jul 31, 2013
Top Auto Repair Shop Scams To Avoid
The good news: Approximately three-quarters of consumers say they are completely or very satisfied with their auto repair shops.
The bad news: 27 percent of respondents to a Consumer Reports survey were dissatisfied with their experiences.
Of those consumers, 38 percent cited high prices as the reason, followed by more than 25 percent who said problems weren’t fixed properly and 18 percent who said repairs did not hold up.
The magazine’s Annual Auto Survey was based on more than 67,000 service-visit reports to independent mechanics and 101,000 to dealerships over the past 12 months.
One other statistic that stands out from the data: 30 percent of female respondents stopped using a repair shop because they felt the staff attempted to take advantage of them because of their gender.
While most people have positive experiences at repair shops and are honest and professional, here’s a list of common scams and bad practices AOL Autos Editors have compiled to ensure you have a better automotive repair experience.
Dirty Fuel Injectors
Some shops will tell you that you need your fuel injectors "cleaned" every 15,000 or 20,000 miles. Only if you are using coal oil to power your car.
Today's gasoline has detergent in it to keep fuel injectors clean. Shops will sometimes present you with dirty fuel injectors as a prop.
Proper replacement cycle for a set of fuel injectors is once a year or 35,000 miles. And even that is overkill.
Padding The Bill
You take the car in because the check-engine light is on, or maybe to fix a rough idle. You get the call, or someone comes out with a clipboard and opinion and says you need three other things done for hundreds of dollars more.
If you trust the mechanic and have history, then he or she may well be doing right. But if it is a new shop, have the work done you came in for and get a second opinion and estimate for the other things. Be firm. Many shops will make you feel like you are being bad to your car if you don't get the extra work done. Unless it's an immediate safety issue, get the second opinion if you aren't sure.
Beware Used Parts Instead Of New
Few of us will really do this, and that is what the unscrupulous shop is counting on. You pay for new parts, but are sold used parts. Inspect the parts that are being installed for wear.
They should be spanking new, and appropriate brand-name parts approved by the manufacturer. Look for brands like AC Delco, Bosch, Fram, Champion. If the parts are unbranded or strange, ask the shop to show you they are approved parts.
It may seem unlikely, but think of how simple it is especially if an unscrupulous mechanic thinks that the owner of the vehicle in his shop has utterly no idea what tires are on the car. Some will actual take your tires off and replace them with older tires.
Put chalk marks on the inside of your tires. Some shops will swap out your tires for older tires. If your chalk-marks are not there when you collect the car, you, and your tires, have been hustled.
Replacing The Clean Air Filter
Don't be sold a new air filter at every oil change. The filter is good for a whole year or about 15,000 miles. Here again, many shops will present you with a filter they say is yours next to a new filter and try and guilt you into a new filter you most likely don't need.
The Engine Flush
Don't flush your hard earned money down the sewer. The engine flush costs between $100 and $200. An engine flush uses a machine and chemicals to rid your engine's innards of sludge, but it's not a normal maintenance checkpoint unless you've neglected your engine. Change your oil according to manufacturer's recommendations and you won't need an engine flush.
A simple examination into your oil-filler lid will reveal deposits and gunk. Sometimes, if you've got an engine with high mileage and deposits, a flush will break loose sludge that can get into the engine. But it's really not necessary today if you've otherwise taken good care of your car.
Just Say No To "Lifetime" Products
Get your transmission fluid changed every 35,000 miles. Your car may come with something called "lifetime" fluid, but we recommend even changing that at about 80,000 miles.
Don't get sold on "lifetime" anything whether it be fluids, filters or brake-pads. These are sales gimmicks and have nothing to do with taking good care of your vehicles.
The Too-Frequent Oil Change
Don't get sold on changing your oil every $3,000 miles. Often when a chain lube shop changes your oil, they put a sticker on your windshield that says "Change Your Oil at 'Fill-in-mileage-here.'"