Mechanics Divulge Their Best Tips To Avoid Being Scammed, And We're Taking Notes


I knew it all along!

Having to go to a mechanic is an incredibly daunting experience. Whether it's just a run of the mill check-up and oil change or your car is being dragged in on a stretcher, visiting the mechanic is like having to see the dentist. If you're not mechanically inclined you never quite feel like you're not being swindled. And there are plenty of car charlatans out there counting your hard earned dollars.

Redditor u/Skeletonsandbowties wanted to help us all out financially by asking... Mechanics of Reddit, what are the biggest signs a shop is a bad choice, such as being scammed or hustled into fixing things that don't really need fixed or bad mechanics?


Get multiple quotes, make sure the diagnosis is correct. I replaced an O2 sensor for a friend, ($25) Pep Boy's told her she needed a new catalytic convertor (1,200) rats. Word of mouth is still critical on this subject, when you find a honest wrench you tell other people about that individual. Nearly EVERY car has an enthusiast blog, even models you think wouldn't. If you register free and spend a little time there you will find not only mechanics who give excellent advise but others like yourself who have corrected problems, posted photos and elaborated on what didn't work or was a misdiagnosis. The weak points of a car are unearthed on these free blogs and if you navigate them carefully you can glean a wealth of information. Lastly, these enthusiasts will tell you who is honest where you live and share their experiences in repair pursuits. onetimerone

Explanation please...

If they tell you something needs fixed/replaced, ask them to show you.

  1. A reputable shop will have no problem showing you the issue.
  2. A good mechanic will be able to explain in relatable terms why it's a problem.

Any shop that can't it and explain what's wrong and why to fix it is either full of crap or incompetent.

Also, you are legally allowed to ask for old broken parts back. Had your brake pads replaced? You can ask for the old ones. The only thing might be that a lot of parts have a core charge so asking to keeps the parts might raise the cost of your service.

A core charge is sort of like a deposit. For example, you buy a starter motor, it's $100 and has a $10 core charge. If you bring back the old starter motor then the store will refund you $10. Then the store sends your old motor to the manufacturer so they can rebuild it or recycle some parts. Sort of like 5 cent deposits on aluminum cans in some states. PineappleForHire

Watch out for the upsell!!

Any shop that refuses to show you the part or issue on the car when they recommend doing some type of maintenance. Likewise, shops that advertise basic work for low prices (oil changes for $20, etc) plus a (100 point inspection). All they want is to get you in and up sell that $20 oil change into a $500 brake job. PlaneCrazy787

Picture Proof...

Take a picture of your air filter. Some unscrupulous employees will bring in a nasty air filter and claim its yours, and that you need to spend some 5X markup for a new one. Cheehos

They'll do the same thing with radiator fluid. I had a guy bring out a little jar of brown-colored water and tell me he just pulled it from my radiator on my International Scout. I had just flushed and filled it a couple of weeks before.

When I told him i had just replaced it and asked him to check it again he came back and said he was sorry for the mixup and that wasn't my radiator fluid after all.

On the plus side, my father once got a new engine out of them when they forgot to put the plug back in his oil pan after an oil change. BusyBullet

Honesty First! 

I worked at a local shop years and years ago, and we'd do oil changes for $15, which is probably around $30 now but was cheap af for the area. We'd also give out free oil changes to longtime customers.

Every oil change gets a basic inspection, we'd write down every single thing wrong with it and compare it to how bad the problem was before. Then we'd highlight the key issues and talk the customer through what their options are.

Loved working at the shop, they closed down about a year after I left though because the town was dying and business left. stapler8

Free Speech...

Not a mechanic, but in my area there are places that have about 100 reviews and they're ALL 5 stars. Surprise surprise, I go there for transmission work and my car starts leaking oil the next day, I go in and they basically say they don't have time. I leave a 2 star review, they threaten me in the review and I get a voicemail asking for them to call back. Makes me believe if anyone else left a low rating they'd get bullied into removing it. NYNomad

The Backyard Bob...

I was driving my wife's Oldsmobile Alero and it just died. I'm not overly mechanically inclined, but I'm able to at least check the basics, and I couldn't get it going again. Had CAA, so we got it towed to dealership. They told us that the fuel pump was gone. Was going to cost $600.

Wife's coworker told us about a "backyard mechanic" who she used extensively for her vehicles. Called him up, he was a former dealership mechanic who was disgusted with his employer and decided to go out on his own.

Ok, good start. I liked the guy already without even meeting him. Had the car towed out to him. Probably 30 minutes later, he called me in a completely incoherent rage. Once he calmed down, he proceeded to tell us the $600 fuel pump we "needed" was in fact a $25 fuel filter.

He basically told us that either the mechanic working on our car was completely inept OR we were likely going to be replacing the fuel pump on the mechanic's buddy's car. He called the dealership and tore them a new one for us. They ended up refunding both towing fees and the diagnostics fees we paid.

We promptly switched over to the new mechanic and used him exclusively until we moved away from the area. He always got a Christmas bonus from us (and many other customers). I'd say he was better stocked than most of the bars were.

Good, honest mechanics are incredibly hard to find. Find them, hold on to them. Treat them nice. They save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. CrazyIslander

A Gotcha moment! 

Take your car in and ask for something to be fixed that you know doesn't need it. An honest mechanic will tell you it doesn't need it. Textme1-917-830-4545

This works for people who know their car well enough to know if something is needed or not. Don't do this if you don't know what you're talking about or you'll just come across as an asshole when it turns out a bushing is actually worn out and you had no idea. wallowls

Everything but the kitchen sink... 

Some mechanics tell you about everything wrong with your car whether you need it or not for a reason.

I use to repair peoples cars on the side to make money to build my project cars. Many of my customers came to me after getting quotes from shops they couldn't afford. I cannot count how many times I did a job saving them more than 50% for them to come back complaining about an unrelated issue that started since I worked on their car.

For example the first time I dealt with this I had one lady come to me because she couldn't afford the cost of 4 wheel brake job at her local mechanic. I replaced all 4 rotors and brake pads lubed everything up using quality parts. A week later she came to me saying that since I replaced her brakes the car clicks when she tries to start it in the morning. I told her it was either a bad battery or a bad starter and if she brought it over I could investigate and sort it out for her. She then went on a rant saying that didn't happen before she brought the car to me and what ever work I did must have caused this problem.

Before this I thought mechanics were assholes telling people to replace things that were not immediate but then I realize the liability for not completely inspecting the car and notifying a customer of things that need to be repaired. LowkeyJC

Just be real...

I go to a local garage, independently run, and speaking as a woman part of the reason I go there is that they just speak to me as a person with a car. No over explaining, I don't get charged any more or less than men do. They're just a lot more interested in my car than they are in me, which is how it should be.

The other thing I appreciate is that if they think your car is past all help they'll tell you so. They could have easily charged me hundreds in labour to try and track down a wiring fault in my Clio, but instead told me that it had been fixed so much and so haphazardly in the past it was pretty much a lost cause- and they'd offer me a half price service on whatever cheap piece of crap I brought in next time. mronion82


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