10 Major Car Repair Scams That Are Scarily Commonplace

Most drivers are concerned about potential car repair scams, and with good reason. It happens more often than you might think, but fortunately many of the cons are easy to identify. The most difficult part can be asserting your rights as a consumer. If you experience any of the following ten scams or shady practices, file a formal complaint with the Attorney General or in small claims.

1. Some mechanics will try to force you into unnecessary car repair by taking your vehicle apart and putting it up on the lift. Work authorization by owner should always occur before anything is disassembled in order to prevent gratuitous charges or faulty reassembly.

2. By law, the owner of the vehicle must give permission for any work performed. Unscrupulous auto shops may proceed with jobs without consent, driving up the price considerably when the final bill is received.

3. It is crucial that owners get a signed estimate before the mechanics begin to work on the vehicle. Additional problems can arise, and part prices can fluctuate, but the labor estimate should be honored. If the price spikes, it is most likely a scam.

4. Any free offers such as towing and rental vehicles should be written and signed into the estimate or contract. Verbal agreements are often given, but later the owner can be charged for these supposedly "free" services.

5. When receiving replacement parts, to avoid scams, it is best to ask for the old part to be placed in the packaging of the new part. It can also be beneficial to make a small mark with paint on the part to be removed so you are assured the work was done.

6. It can be difficult in certain cases to give an accurate time estimate for car repair. However, the mechanic should make every effort possible to finish the job within a reasonable amount of time and keep the owner informed of any delays. An extremely tardy job should be reason for suspicions.

7. One of the most common auto repair cons is suggesting unnecessary work. If you know little about mechanics, you might feel at their mercy. The best thing to do if they insist on other essential repairs is to get a second opinion at a later date to confirm or deny the claim.

8. Scare tactics are another way mechanics coerce additional money out of clients. One popular method is to show the owner some "dirty" oil and lay blame on the transmission. Unless you have been having significant transmission problems, there is no need to be concerned. Transmission fluids often contain harmless traces of debris.

9. Auto shops often use one parts supplier, which can result in very high markups on relatively cheap components. If the price seems high, try to supply the part on your own for a fraction of the cost by checking the internet.

10. Adding additional charges such as inspection fees when the owner comes to collect their vehicle is an unethical practice. However, it is important to read over the estimate carefully for any indication that further fees may apply.

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