99% of all car mechanics are honest, reliable and offer a fantastic service. However, there are a few bad guys out there looking to take advantage of the inexperienced, unsure and naive.
Unfortunately car repairs and running costs are inevitable for anyone with a vehicle, and you may as well get used to the fact you will be spending thousands of dollars each and every year on maintenance, running costs and general upkeep. Buying the vehicle is only the tip of the iceberg.
There are several ways to make sure you don’t pay more than you need to for running your car. These include shopping around for the best insurance deals using price comparison sites like Captain Compare, in addition to asking pertinent questions next time you are at the car repairers to make sure you don’t fall foul of common car repair scams.
Here are five questions to remember next time you visit the garage:
1. Do the spark plugs really need changing right now?
Most modern vehicles manufactured after the year 2000 stipulate that spark plugs do not need to be replaced until the vehicle has traveled 160,000km. If a mechanic tries to talk you into replacing them before this time, you should be asking why they feel this is required. Failed sparks plugs are usually a sign that something else is wrong, so a spark plug change alone is likely to be unnecessary.
2. Why did you do that additional work before I had authorized you to?
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book – you and the mechanic agree repairs and negotiate a price you are happy with, then a couple of hours later you receive a call stating as soon as they popped the bonnet, thousands of dollars worth of additional damage was uncovered, so they went ahead and repaired it all to save you time and money in the long run.
The trick here is to make sure you agree a fixed price for the repairs before you leave the yard. Make it very clear that you expect them to call immediately before carrying out any work that you haven’t already authorized and don’t be bullied into anything. It may be that they are being genuine but if unsure, a second opinion from another mechanic is a good option.
3. Can I look at the actual part you will be using?
You’re sold new parts, but they install used parts. If possible inspect the part before it’s installed. If it looks worn or dirty then reject it and insist on a new one.
4. Can you prove that dirty air filter came from my car?
This is possibly, the most common trick in the book. You’re told the air filter is filthy and needs replacing. This could be your engine air filter, or your cabin air filter. Either way, the mechanic is sure to show you a filter that’s black, dusty and full of built up debris. Some unscrupulous shops keep a spare dirty filter on hand for scaremongering people with, so always ask for proof that it has been removed from your vehicle.
5. Why do I need a new transmission?
Transmissions often contain dirty oil and metal shavings, so if you repairer claims you need a new one because the one you have is filthy and faulty because of this, they are not necessarily telling the truth. Again, a second opinion is always worth considering and if the repair is necessary, shop around to get the best price.