Today I’m going to talk about ways that mechanics can rip you off and how you can avoid it in the first place.
I have to admit over the years dishonest mechanics have actually made me a lot of money, cuz people went to the dishonest mechanics and said they need $3-4,000 worth of work, then they’d come to me for a second opinion on it and I’d say, hey they made up most of that stuff, maybe you need to do this $200-300 dollar job but the rest of it you don’t need.
I would have never gotten those customers if the first mechanics had been honest.
Story #1: Overcharging for a job
The first thing is being overcharged for a job. I’ll give you a perfect example I had last week. A customer had an Acura and it was recalled to have the engine rebuilt.
so I took it to the dealer, and they said yes they have to rebuild the engine, but they have to replace the timing belt. According to them the timing belt wasn’t included in the recall
So they wanted $785 to change that while they were rebuilding the engine. If you know anything about cars is a total rip off, because to rebuild the engine they got to take it all apart, so the timing belt has to be taken off with a bunch of other things.
They were going to charge him $785 cuz that’s the book that says here’s what it costs to replace a timing belt, but that’s on an engine which is all put together.
They had to take the whole thing apart, they had to remove the timing belt to do all that work.
What they should have done is said, well the timing belt is $89 we’ll charge you for the belt. They shouldn’t charge labor cuz they had to take the thing off anyways.
I see this all the time, so it always benefits you to learn a little bit about your car so you don’t get ripped off like that.
This kind of double charging happening all the time. If your going in for a recall, have the recall done and nothing else because they don’t make any money on recalls at the dealership.
So they’re always trying pile stuff on top to make money. You got a recall, let them do the recall and say just do the recall and nothing else.
Story #2: You buy things that you don’t need
The next thing to avoid is that you buy things that you just don’t need. Many years ago when GM had their horrible v8 diesel engine that was a converted gasoline 350 v8 engine, I had a friend and he showed me a bill from the dealer.
Even after he spent a bunch on money at the dealer, it didn’t run. Actually it was the engine going out because it was one of those diesel conversions and they never were any good anyways,
But I looked at the bill from the dealer, and included in it was 8 spark plugs, and of course diesels don’t have spark plugs, they just made the whole thing up, and when they got caught, they said, oh we made a mistake in billing and they refunded him his money for the spark plugs.
That was an extreme example but I see it all the time, things are good and people try to sell them parts that they don’t need.
Story #3: Replace 3 sets of tires and 3 sets of brake pads.
One of my customers was a bookkeeper, and she was a bookkeeper for lots of people and one of the guys was a millionaire, and he had a Volvo and she knew he was getting ripped off so she had him bring it to me,
I looked at his service records, now this Volvo was like 3 years old but it only had 15,000 miles on it because the guy flew everywhere, he didn’t drive his car all that much.
He lived downtown so he didn’t have to travel around a lot. Well in those 15,000 miles they had sold him 3 sets of tires, and 3 sets of brake pads, they just made up stuff
The guy was a millionaire, he just thought, oh it’s a Swedish car it costs money to maintain them and I want it to run good, so he paid for 3 sets of tires and 3 sets of brake pads.
He probably didn’t need any of them at all with only 15,000 miles on the car. You can see flat out dishonesty like that all the time, especially when it comes to these service intervals.
Story #4: the brake pads weren’t worn out, nothing was leaking
I had a customer with a Porsche, now it was 4 years old, but it only had 8,000 miles on it, she only used it as a weekend. She takes it in to the dealer for the servicing, and basically they charge her $1,000 just to change the oil and to check things and then they advice that she had $5,000 more work done on the car
And since it was the first time I worked on her car, her friend told her about me. I said bring it over and let me check it out, so I pulled off all the wheels.
I looked at everything that they said the car needed, and it didn’t need any of that stuff, the brake pads weren’t worn out, nothing was leaking, everything was working fine
So I said let me call up the Porsche dealer and I’ll talk to them for being crooks and trying to sell you all this stuff your car doesn’t need
And here’s how to guy responded at the Porsche dealer, he said well when the car is 4 years old, we advise replacing the brake master cylinder, the rotors, the brake pads, the brake calipers, everything cuz this is a performance car and we want our customers to be safe
So I said “hey the car’s only got 8,000 miles , did you even look at the car. I pulled the wheels off and said this thing still has 90% of everything left on it, there’s no reason to change it all”
but they used one of those, 50,000 miles or 4 years which ever comes first service intervals and tried to sell her a bunch of stuff.
That’s a load of nonsense.
On many modern cars ever so many miles some of them it’s 15,000 miles some of them it’s 30,000, a little light comes on to remind you that it’s time to service the car
People freak out and think, oh something is wrong with my car I got to take it right in, well those things just come on so many miles, and a lot of it is total nonsense.
There’s nothing wrong with the car at all, it’s just that they know you see this light a lot of people will take it to the dealer, then they’ll say, oh well it’s time for your 30,000 mile check up and that’s gonna be $900 and blah blah,
That’s really taking things too far when they started putting all those warning lights, cuz hey it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with your car at all, but it scares people and especially older people.
They’ll often get talked in to buying a whole bunch of stuff that their car doesn’t need.
Story #5: It didn’t need to be done right away
Just last week one of my customers told their friends about me cuz they went into the Toyota dealer and they were all upset cuz they said their car needed $3,500 worth of work done.
They took it in under one of those service intervals, and of course they tried to sell them everything including the kitchen sink. I went through it with a fine tooth comb and used my fancy scan tool and really I couldn’t find anything wrong with the vehicle.
The rear brake pads were getting a little thin, I said well you know their going to last another 5-10,000 miles probably, they said go ahead and change the rear brake pads, so I did that but even that didn’t need to be done right away, and they tried to tell you, “oh it’s dangerous you need to do this”
Because of those stupid little warning lights, they probably sold more unnecessary repairs to people than anything I can think about.
So if your car is one of those service interval lights that comes on, do a little research on your own car, see how often that light comes on and you can learn what it really means, don’t be scared that “oh my car is going to blow up”
Most of the time it has nothing to do with anything other than a certain time frame has passed on and then the light came on. Sometimes think of that light as a game on monopoly, where you get a card that says, do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to jail.
Only in this case jail is the dealer that’s going to try to rip you off, yes you need to maintain your car, oil changes any everything that needs to be done, your better off getting a little notebook and doing a little research and see what has to be done on your car at what time, and do it then,
Don’t go by these made up lights that come on every so many miles regardless of how you maintain or drive your car, take many Toyotas for example, the use a hoat coolant, hybrid organic acid technology, many of them go 7 years or 150,000 miles, so all you got to do is put it in your notebook and say coolant 7 years 150,000 miles then you know when that time comes up, you go ahead and change it
Do that for all your service intervals, don’t trust some stupid little light comes on and then people try to sell you stuff, that’s why the most important thing is to find an honest mechanic.
It doesn’t matter how good a mechanic is. if he’s not honest, everything is thrown out the window.
I’ve seen dishonest mechanics that have a little spray bottle, they’ll spray the stop of the strut, then they’ll show the customer, look your strut is leaking, you need new struts.
I’ve seen them try to sell all kinds of stuff like “oh you need your fuel injectors cleaned”. Most cars when they’re driving normally with good gas, gasoline is a very good cleaner.
It will clean the engines by themselves, now if you do have a GDI gasoline direct injection, some of those do carbon up and they actually have to be cleaned, regular fuel injected cars, your driving with good gas and maintain them they really don’t need the fuel injectors cleaned, or vice versa
A lot of the manufacturers say, “oh the automatic transmission fluid is a lifetime fluid”, you never have to change it, it’s good for the lifetime of the transmission. If you don’t change it every once in a while believe me it’s gonna get dirty, the transmission is going to wear out and it will be long after the warranty is up and you’ll have to pay for a super expensive transmission
so in this case it’s actually better to do more maintenance than what the manufacturers often suggest, cuz they want to sell you either another transmission that costs thousands and thousands, or that you give up and buy another car
but I could never understand that cuz if the transmission did break on a car that I bought I would never buy another one of those cars again.
And that’s where the Japanese have eaten up the car market, when I was a young mechanic let me tell you, Japanese cars were few and far between you hardly ever saw them.
Now go out and look at a parking lot their almost all Japanese cars, cuz they gradually made them better and they didn’t put as much junk in them, so people bought them, they weren’t particularly excited with the Japanese they just said, “hey they make something that doesn’t break. I’m going to buy it”
And of course when it comes to not getting ripped off on repairs, the best thing is to have a car that very rarely needs repairs, cuz it doesn’t matter how good or how honest your mechanic is, let’s say you go out and buy a Fiat, odds are the thing is going to break down before it’s time, regardless of how you take care of it, you’ll spend a lot of your hard earned money on repairs
Whether people are honest or not, you know get a little flashlight, you can check your struts before any mechanic looks at it, if their all dry and it rides good and then if you go someplace and they say, look your strut is leaking, you just checked it and you know it wasn’t leaking
if it’s got oil on it, you know their crooks, and go ahead and get one of those little scan bluetooth tools that plugs into your obd port that works off your phone
You can say things like, well it’s got p0174 so I know it’s running a little bit lean. The codes will tell you that.
If you go a little further, you can go into live data on these things and you can say, “well the fuel trim is adding 8% fuel” . When you show theirs some knowledge their going to have a lot harder time scamming you.
So now you know scams that mechanics might try pulling on you and how you can avoid them in the first place.
What others said about this topic on social media ?
Sal Perez said That’s why I like being Mexican.. half my uncles are mechanics LMAO Ik they won’t overcharge me and all it’ll cost me is the parts and a pack of beer. 😂😭
Georgia Activist said Simple rule to follow: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Chad Thundercock said Its not just mechanics, try dentists, lawyers, plumbers, tradesman in general
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