If you've ever taken a car in for maintenance, chances are your mechanic has returned to you with a list that many of us believe should be emblazoned with the words "Mechanic Rip Offs." Dealerships, maintenance chains, and even your local shop do this for a few reasons--not all of which amount to mechanic scams.
That outrageous list of your car's failings primarily serves as a buffer against liability. The last thing any mechanic wants is for a customer to cause an accident and then blame them for failing to properly inspect the vehicle.
This doesn't mean that mechanics aren't trying to make money. More often than not, mechanics and service writers work on commission, which means they might try to sell unnecessary services and parts. The next time you get handed a list of potential mechanic rip offs, pay close attention so you don't fall prey to these top 5 mechanic scams.
1. Overcharging. Particularly true for women and the elderly, one of the most common mechanic scams involves inflated prices. Ask for a written estimate and shop around--a good mechanic will never begrudge you a second opinion.
2. Replacing Air and/or Cabin Filters. Every single time this blogger heads in for an oil change, someone recommends that she change an air or cabin filter. Ask to see the filter, because chances are you can see through it, which means it's fine. Filters are also fairly easy (and cheap!) to replace yourself--a few screws and you're done.
3. Replacing Brake Pads. There's no question that brakes need to be fully functional, but that doesn't mean they need to be replaced five times a year. When your brake pads are at 1/4 inch thickness or below, it's generally time for a change. A good mechanic will give you this measurement.
4. Premature Services. A mechanic may tell you that you need to flush your cooling system or engine, but as Ask Men points out, unless the manufacturer recommends this service, it's a waste of money. To ward off these scams, double check your owner's manual for recommended services.
5. Unnecessary Replacement Parts. Mechanic scams often push for replacement parts. Ask Men points to shocks and spark plugs as big offenders, but you should also be weary of suggested belt replacements. Ask to see the offending part, and make your mechanic explain--in detail--why it needs to be replaced.