Good Sense to Save Dol­lars

Catron Courier - - News -

"Gravy work" is the term crooked me­chan­ics use to de­scribe billing the cus­tomer for more time than was ac­tu­ally re­quired to do the work. For ex­am­ple, turn­ing the ro­tors can be done in most cases in 30 min­utes, but a shop will often charge for an hour or even up to two and a half hours.

"Wal­let flush" is when a me­chanic charges for more than just an in­ex­pen­sive oil change. If they'll in­sist on flush­ing or “top­ping off” your coolant, trans­mis­sion fluid, power steer­ing fluid, this is gen­er­ally un­nec­es­sary and does more to flush your wal­let than help your car run bet­ter.

"Never Touched" is when a me­chanic charges for work not done. A great ex­am­ple is an air fil­ter. They'll say you have to pay for a new air­fil­ter and the la­bor to in­stall it when they've never even touched it (get the old air fil­ter and make sure it was dirty, and get the new box too).

"Tired of be­ing cheated" ap­plies to some tire shops that are as bad as a bad me­chanic. They're not be­yond charg­ing you for a pre­mium tire, and then in­stalling a cheap tire from the same man­u­fac­turer. Most con­sumers see the brand name and never ex­am­ine the side­wall mark­ings and never know they've been cheated. Some shops will have a low-sound­ing tire price but will jack up the in­stal­la­tion and bal­anc­ing charge, so your cheap tires end up not be­ing quite as cheap as you ex­pected. Also, some­times you'll only need a tire patched or re­placed, but the shop will lie and say that at least two tires need to be re­placed at one time. They may even say the car won't drive prop­erly un­less all four tires are re­placed, which is not true.

"The Id­iot Light" is one that dis­rep­utable me­chan­ics love to take ad­van­tage of due to fear of the in­fa­mous Check En­gine light. Since the light doesn't say what the prob­lem is, the me­chanic has li­cense to say what it means, and they often tell you an ex­pen­sive re­pair is needed when in­deed it's some­thing sim­ple and in­ex­pen­sive to fix. Know­ing you can trust your me­chanic is im­por­tant.

“One thing leads to an­other” is when you go in be­cause of a tire punc­ture, and the me­chanic ex­plains the wob­bly tire caused your steer­ing to fail and that led to the en­gine mount break­ing and now the en­tire en­gine needs to be re­placed. You can prob­a­bly guess that’s a big lie. For any ma­jor re­pair, get a sec­ond shop to also quote the job.

Other shady tac­tics in­clude:

The me­chanic who won’t show you the old parts they re­moved. That is a good sign they didn’t ac­tu­ally re­place it.

Does work you didn’t au­tho­rize. Only pay for work you have au­tho­rized. Re­port any­one who tries to over­charge.

Used only ex­pen­sive name brand parts with­out giv­ing you the op­tion of less ex­pen­sive parts.

When a me­chanic be­gins to pres­sure you, or threat­ens that if you don’t fix the prob­lem right away you’re en­dan­ger­ing the lives of your fam­ily, or uses their phys­i­cal size to in­tim­i­date, it’s time to leave.

If any­one re­fuses to ex­plain some­thing to you com­pletely and in a friendly man­ner, and uses ex­cuses like “It’s too com­pli­cated” or “you wouldn’t un­der­stand” it’s a good sign they’re try­ing to cover up some­thing.

If a shop takes for­ever to make a re­pair (for any rea­son other than they are very busy), there’s a good chance they’re charg­ing for hours of work they didn’t do. Do look over your bill when you get it.

To avoid over­pay­ing, and save some dol­lars, be­fore com­mit­ting to any work on your ve­hi­cle ask nearby lo­cals if that shop is hon­est. Check on­line rat­ings. See what the peo­ple at the café next door have to say about that me- chanic.

A clean and or­ga­nized shop is more likely to be re­li­able if you can choose that over one sur­rounded by half-fixed cars. How­ever, you don’t want a clean, empty shop. If a shop is busy it’s a good sign they’re charg­ing de­cent prices and keep­ing cus­tomers sat­is­fied. If a shop is a ghost town, ask your­self why no one goes there— maybe you shouldn’t ei­ther.

Get ev­ery­thing in writ­ing BE­FORE work starts.

Keep your re­ceipts in case you end up in small claims court with that me­chanic.

If you’re con­sid­er­ing an in­de­pen­dent shop, ask how long they’ve been in busi­ness—small shops have a habit of com­ing and go­ing, and if a shop van­ishes any guar­an­tee they of­fered be­comes worth­less. ◊◊◊

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