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  1. #1

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    Default Auto repair shop dishonesty

    Hi,

    I will be turning 18 soon and will probably get my first car in a year or so. I am concerned about repair shop dishonesty due to the fact that I have heard many horror stories on TV about auto repair shops scamming unsuspecting customers - even some shops destroying parts (cutting belts, etc) and then charging for other parts that have never been replaced!

    So, do any of you have bad experiences with major auto repair chains (Sears Auto Center, Meinke, Midas, etc.)? Do these "brand-name" auto repair shops scam?

    And what can one do to prevent from getting ripped off?
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    Quote Originally Posted by appadv View Post
    Hi,

    I will be turning 18 soon and will probably get my first car in a year or so. I am concerned about repair shop dishonesty due to the fact that I have heard many horror stories on TV about auto repair shops scamming unsuspecting customers - even some shops destroying parts (cutting belts, etc) and then charging for other parts that have never been replaced!

    So, do any of you have bad experiences with major auto repair chains (Sears Auto Center, Meinke, Midas, etc.)? Do these "brand-name" auto repair shops scam?

    And what can one do to prevent from getting ripped off?

    Alot of times your insurance company can give you a list of the highest rated local repair shops. Ask.

    Otherwise, usually friends or family can give you suggestions on places they use.

  3. #3

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    Your best bet is , as always, knowledge.
    Get under the hood and learn your way around.
    They can't fool you if you already know the answer.
    Take automotive 101 in High school. A little grease
    never killed anyone.

    General stupidity is much more common than outright
    fraud. There are a few mechanics and shops that
    will rip you off. The number that will troubleshoot by
    shotgunning is appalling.
    I have never worked as a mechanic. But I find that
    most of them know nothing about troubleshooting.
    They change out anything that may have fixed the
    problem in the past. I have gone in and faced off with
    a number of dealerships service departments and picked
    up a car rather than let them fumble about.

  4. #4

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    The key to good and honest service is the guy that opens the work order and controls the shop. A mechanic cannot change out parts for nothing and be dishonest unless the guy running the shop is and allows it.

    That is the job I do for 75 hours a week at a Canadian Tire service center. I greet the customer, take the order, assign the job to the appropriate mechanic, THEN the mechanic has to sell ME the job first. I'll go in the shop and look at the required repairs, and if I feel it's right I'll make the estimate and explain it to the customer.

    The bottom line is that you must have good communication and you must feel that you can trust the guy that is giving you the estimate. ANY shop can screw you no matter what name is hanging on the building.

    I can go into further detail if you like. I've been doing this for more than 20 years and have never ever screwed anyone.

    Joe
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    Thanks for the advice. Can you go into further detail?
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  6. #6

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    The internet is an amazing thing. Quite often you can google a problem
    and see hundreds of people that had the same problem as you might have.
    You can also see how much they spent, and if it was fixed right the first time.
    I'm a do it yourself kind of guy. It really isn't that hard.
    And it saves a ton of $$$.
    The big problem is coming up with a car that avoids having problems.
    Most Toyota products are good, as well as Honda. But expect to pay a premium up front. Rear wheel drive American cars are much better than
    their front wheel drive offerings.
    Better to plan on a getting a good car than worrying about repair right
    now.

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    Thanks, what would be a good used car if you had only $500 to spend?
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    Quote Originally Posted by appadv View Post
    Thanks, what would be a good used car if you had only $500 to spend?
    Pretty much anything with a japanese engine. As much as I love my Fords and GMs, the best car I ever had was a 1995 Mazda Protoge; it was in 5 serious accidents and still managed to make it to 170k miles without a problem (aside from the crashes, that is)...

    Try to get a manual transmission as well. The price of gas these days...
    Lovin that music year after year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Refefer View Post

    Try to get a manual transmission as well. The price of gas these days...
    How would one learn to drive a manual without first owning a manual car? All my friends drive automatics...
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    Quote Originally Posted by appadv View Post
    Thanks for the advice. Can you go into further detail?

    Start by asking friends and family where they go for their repairs. Choose one and go get something simple done like a tire or oil change. Pay attention to how they treat you and other customers. Being young and driving a clunker may be a problem because they won't see much potential in making any money with you beyond what you went in for.

    In any case, pay attention to the mechanic doing the oil change. Did they put a paper mat on the floor and plastic cover on the seat? Is he checking all the fluids and air filter as well as the air in the tires?

    Don't be surprised if they give you a report on work that needs to be done, it's normal to look over a car to spot problems and report them to the customer and let the customer decide if he wants to do the necessary repairs or not. The purpose of an oil change is not simply to change the oil, but to also look for "things that need fixin'".

    Be wary if the service advisor is too pushy with repairs, he may be working on commission.

    Ask questions...........Joe
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeparaski View Post

    Be wary if the service advisor is too pushy with repairs, he may be working on commission.

    Ask questions...........Joe
    Thanks for the advice. So how cautious should I be, for example if the mechanic starts selling me stuff that isn't related to the original problem, is this a warning sign?
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    You can be a flaming idiot and still make boatloads of money being a completely "honest" (but incompetent) auto mechanic. So, as someone said above, it's much more related to competency than honesty. A mechanic doesn't have to screw you over to make money, and they'd be morons to try and risk alienating their customers (though some obviously do try, it's rarer than TV investigators make it seem.) When a shop suggests unnecessary repairs, it's usually cuz they're clueless as to what the problem is, and are just flailing blindly tryign to fix it, which is why competency is so important.


    As for the above recommendations about cars... you're not going to find anything reliable for 500 bucks unless you're incredibly lucky. A 500 dollar car is always going to have repairs, sometimes big, sometimes small, but chances are if it was only 500 bucks it's old enough that things are just wearing down.

    Also, about manuals - nowadays you really don't see much of a difference in MPG. I'm a big fan of driving a manual transmission cuz I like the control and extra oomph you get, but as far as gas mileage, if anything you're talking about a difference of one MPG in ideal conditions; your driving style is going to make a much bigger difference than that.
    If you will it, dude, it is no dream.

  13. #13

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    [QUOTE=bobman1235;643803]You can be a flaming idiot and still make boatloads of money being a completely "honest" (but incompetent) auto mechanic. So, as someone said above, it's much more related to competency than honesty. A mechanic doesn't have to screw you over to make money, and they'd be morons to try and risk alienating their customers (though some obviously do try, it's rarer than TV investigators make it seem.) When a shop suggests unnecessary repairs, it's usually cuz they're clueless as to what the problem is, and are just flailing blindly tryign to fix it, which is why competency is so important.


    ********
    I haven't gotten to the competency thing yet. There is so much information on this topic that I can write a book. Yes, competency is critical, I see it everyday. Thankfully, I have a very competent crew here (I'm at work at this moment) and we can tackle pretty much anything that comes our way.

    Joe
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  14. #14

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    When I can troubleshoot a problem better than the guy with his name on his shirt, there's a problem.
    Most mechanics around here do the quick change a part fix first, then
    pull their brain in gear. Son #1 worked at several dealarships and is
    a master mechanic. He left the business because the shop managers were always pushing for the "quick fix change a part and bill it".
    He now works for claims for a extended warranty company.
    He spends a lot of time making sure the shops troubleshoot.
    The mechanic field is full of warm bodies. He has had to tell a customer to
    "get your car out of that shop and take it somewhere else" more than once.
    Sad, but that's the way it is.

    Joe, I'm glad someone has put together a good crew. Make sure to keep up
    the good work.

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    Well - how do you know when you're really dealing with a "parts replacer"? I could imagine some competent techs say that you need to replace many parts due to the fact that they are worn; on the other hand an incompetent person could replace 5 or so parts until he gets to the root of the problem. They both are replacing many parts but how do you tell a "parts replacer" from the "troubleshooters"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by appadv View Post
    Well - how do you know when you're really dealing with a "parts replacer"? I could imagine some competent techs say that you need to replace many parts due to the fact that they are worn; on the other hand an incompetent person could replace 5 or so parts until he gets to the root of the problem. They both are replacing many parts but how do you tell a "parts replacer" from the "troubleshooters"?

    Sadly enough, you have to learn the hard way.
    Once again, knowledge is king. I know my way under a hood of a modern car.
    I can tell when they're crappin me. Other than that, trial and error. Ask friends. Look for BBB complaints. This is why many people only lease cars or trade every couple of years.

    At this point, assume your first car will cost more than $500. The money you save upfront will go into fixing all the broke stuff on a cheapie.
    The real killer at your age isn't the car. It's the "under 25 single male "
    insurance. The insurance here for a year costs more than a good used car.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sucks2beme View Post
    At this point, assume your first car will cost more than $500. The money you save upfront will go into fixing all the broke stuff on a cheapie.
    So basically you recommend spending more than $500 for a used car - I think I can stretch that to $1500 if I sell the Definitives (hard to part with), CDP, DVD, etc.
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    Oh yeah BTW, how do you change motor oil? Because I'd like to learn how to do it myself and changing motor oil seems like a good starting point.

    Sorry for all the dumb questions, and thanks for all the help so far!
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    Go find a motorhead at school and tag with him. You'll learn a lot more there that typing with us. Do a little research. See if the Ol' man will let you change his oil. Get a manual for the car and have at it.
    Its not hard. You just need a bit of hands on.
    There's a plug on the bottom of the engine on what's known as the oil pan.
    There is also a filter somewhere on the bottom side of the engine.
    The location varies by car. The proper oil,amount needed, and filter needed vary by car. Like I said, a good gearhead will set you straight in minutes.
    Your first car will teach you a lot. Even beter, learn on someone elses car first. I had to try to keep some of son #1 friends from killing themselves.
    One kept trying to use cinderblocks for stands. Quick recipe to die young.
    I told him " don't be stupid, you need stands, a jack and wheel chocks, come borrow them. Just bring them back" Ten years later, he still comes over to borrow them! He'll have his engineering degree this summer. I guess he'll
    be able to buy his own.:D

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    suck2beme is right on, find someone to teach you basic auto repair.

    If your looking at $500 or $1500 cars, you will need to know how to repair them, one or two repairs can cost more than you paid for the car.

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    1. ask alot of questions

    2. get 2-3 estimates

    Cars aren't as complicated as some think. They have parts that do a specified task just like a computer or a stereo or a vacuum cleaner for that matter.

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    My grandpaw taught me alot about my truck.

    The trick to any car is doing maintence, keeping it clean and monitoring it for leaks and such.
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    Quote Originally Posted by appadv View Post
    How would one learn to drive a manual without first owning a manual car? All my friends drive automatics...

    I can address this question. I rode around with people who drove manual cars but never did it myself. Just paid attention to what they did. This year I finally decided to try it myself. The test drive of my new car was my first try at it. It all seemed natural and I had no problems on the drive. I told the salesman as we pulled out I never drove a manual before. The look on his face was priceless. Fear of certain death is the best way I can describe it. :D

    Actually my second time but the first was a very short trip long long ago...

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    I agree that it would be nice if they had some kind of class for peopel to learn manual. Because a few of my friends want to learn, and I REALLY don't want them learning on my car.... :)
    If you will it, dude, it is no dream.

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    Actually, I didn't know there was such a thing as auto repair shop honesty!!!!

    Shawn

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vr3MxStyler2k3 View Post
    My grandpaw taught me alot about my truck.

    The trick to any car is doing maintence, keeping it clean and monitoring it for leaks and such.
    Good advice. I remember you said once that your parents' Corolla lasted 10 years without an oil change or any maintenance. Thats amazing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by appadv View Post
    I remember you said once that your parents' Corolla lasted 10 years without an oil change or any maintenance.
    Found out the engine was fried on year 3, kept it in the garage 7 more years??
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    I think Trey's Corolla lasted 10 years without any maintenance, not even an oil change! But I might be wrong...

    Better ask Trey since he seems to be the expert on car maintenance...
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    Quote Originally Posted by shawn474 View Post
    Actually, I didn't know there was such a thing as auto repair shop honesty!!!!

    Shawn
    Ouch! I know that the auto repair industry may not have a stellar reputation, but damn, some of us try! :)

    There are a lot of good comments in this post, the best thing I can recommend is be an educated consumer. If you don't want to learn about how to fix them, that's one thing; if you understand a car in theory you at least have some knowledge to make good decisions. As far as figuring out the honest shops to go to, start asking around now. The old adage "a happy customer will tell a couple of people, but piss somebody off and they'll tell everybody" holds pretty true. The BBB is a good place, too. If you're going to a dealership, most manufacturers have customer satisfaction surveys, which are a way to guage a shops honesty and performance.

    My $.02 on what to buy- an older Corolla. May be a bit more then other used makes with similar mileage/features, but the extra coin up front will pay for itself in the long run. Oh, please don't go 10 years without an oil change.
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    Quote Originally Posted by appadv View Post
    I think Trey's Corolla lasted 10 years without any maintenance, not even an oil change! But I might be wrong...

    Better ask Trey since he seems to be the expert on car maintenance...
    You go 30k miles without an oil change, you're gonna have trouble.That first oil change is very critical. There's debris from engine break in that needs to be removed.
    10 years. Not gonna happen. The antifreeze will eat the system from the inside. The water pump will fail. The air cleaner will clog. Gas milage will drop off. Not a pretty site. You might not have any breaks in 10 years, but fluid&filter changes better happen. Not even a Toymotor is gonna run under that strain.

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