Good Sense to Save Dollars
"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. ◊◊◊