Consumers need to know how mechanics often rip them off during auto repairs. A lawyer with 24-plus years of experience practicing consumer protection law clues us in on the secrets the shady mechanics don’t want you to know.
One of the ways is through misdiagnosis. Mechanics can come to an incorrect conclusion about the cause of the problem, leading to more expensive bills for the customer. While the mechanic tries different fixes and fails, the bill gets higher and higher.
Sometimes mechanics can take your car for a joyride which can cause damage and add mileage to your vehicle. If your car is dropped off for more than one day, you might see it on social media involved in a joyride.
Overcharging is another way that shops steal money from customers. The shop is allowed to mark up items like water pumps within reason. But you shouldn’t have to pay if the mechanic takes twice as long to fix it. The mechanic should be able to tell you within pennies of the cost that the repair will be. The law requires a written estimate before the work starts if the customer requests it.
There’s also unwanted damage to a vehicle. You might pick up your vehicle and see grease spots on the seats or even body damage. The ‘Garage Keeper Liability’ law protects your car in the mechanic’s shop. If the mechanic tells you to call your insurance company about it, you ask them to call their insurance company. They have full coverage to fix any issues while they have your car. Don’t get scammed by this common action.
Sometimes items are stolen from the shop’s lot. Stolen stereos or other equipment are common; some mechanics have even stolen customers’ wallets from their cars. This shady activity is common in shops across the country, so beware.
Lastly, the brake scam is another way mechanics can rip off customers. You go into a shop, and they offer a free review of your brakes. They put it on the lift and come back saying you need a complete system repair. You tell them you want a second opinion, and they say it is illegal for them to let you leave with the car in its current condition. The mechanic tells you they could be sued or arrested if you leave the shop and cause an accident. This is a complete scam, and you shouldn’t fall for it.