Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Maintenance November 15, 2018

5 Auto Mechanic Tricks That Raise a Red Flag

Auto mechanic tricks.

Have you ever gone into your local auto repair shop for a simple oil change and walked out with a long list of random repairs and a hefty bill? You may be falling victim to one those classic auto mechanic “tricks.”

As our technology gets smarter, the longevity and reliability of our vehicles continues to increase.  As a result, car dealerships and independent car repair mechanics might panic that profits will dip, leading them to practice shady service tactics.

Read: How to Choose a Trustworthy Auto Repair Shop

Look out for these five signs that your auto mechanic is being dishonest.

5 Auto Mechanic Tricks That Could Tank Your Bank

  • Preying on the Fear of the “Idiot Light”

There is nothing more frustrating than when your engine light pops up at the worst time possible. And while it can be something very minor that causes the light to go off, it could also be something significant enough that ends in major expenses for the owner. Keep in mind, however, that this is also an easy way for a mechanic to jack up a repair bill.  In fact, the “check engine light” is also widely known as the “idiot light.”

The light sparks fear in car owners because, more often than not, they cannot diagnose the problem themselves. Owners go into repair shops and have to pay for a diagnosis and a fix — and here is when mechanics can get you. They exaggerate the extent to which you need a repair, or add on additional services that may seem unnecessary. Our advice? Do your research and find a local auto repair shop that you can trust.  

Read: Is it Safe to Drive Your Car With the Check Engine Light On?

  • Taking Longer Than Necessary to Finish a Repair

Typically, auto shops charge by the hour for a repair. The aftermarket rate typically ranges anywhere from $100 to $140 an hour. Comparatively, dealerships generally charge around $140 per hour or more.

While many complex repairs can take a good chunk of time to complete, the issue arises when mechanics take unnecessary amounts of time on even the simplest repair. This practice, also known as “gravy work,” is one of the oldest auto mechanic tricks in the book. A dishonest mechanic will say that something took longer than it actually did just to upcharge you. If you brought your vehicle in for a routine fix that takes about 20 to 30 minutes with the right equipment, and you’re charged for two and a half hours, you might be getting scammed.

  • Doing a Repair Without Asking

When you go into an auto shop for a repair, usually the shop has an official process for how they go about a replacement or fix. It begins with the mechanic and the car owner both agreeing on a price estimate for the job. Then, the mechanic should run through what they will be doing to diagnose the problem. The diagnosis will come back, and then the mechanic should let the customer know what they will be doing to fix the problem.

These steps are important because a shop should be compensated for the work they have performed and each customer should know exactly what is going on with their repair. By going through these steps, it ensures that the auto repair shop asks for permission first before performing any services. This prevents any shady auto mechanic tricks when it comes to pricing. Without these steps, a dishonest mechanic could proceed with a repair without consent from the customer.

Make sure your mechanic walks you through everything he/she will do during your repair.

  • Pushing a Preventative Oil Change

Routine oil changes help keep your car performing at its very best, which is why you should make sure you are always up to date.  

Previously, the industry standard was to get an oil change around every 3,000 miles or every three months. With today’s engine and lubricant advancements, some cars don’t need oil changes quite as frequently. If you have a newer car that uses synthetic oil, you could potentially drive up to 15,000 miles before receiving another oil change. Some facilities, however, still try to recommend an oil change every three months or 3,000 miles — but beware, this is a shady business tactic.

Before agreeing to have a preventative oil change in addition to your repair, check your owner’s manual to see how often you should get routine oil change services.

Read: Why Do We Need Oil Changes and When Should We Get Them?

  • Overcharging For Replacement Parts

Most auto repair quotes have a parts component and a labor component. A dodgy mechanic could charge you for used replacement parts as brand new ones to make a higher profit. An even more dishonest mechanic could say you need a replacement when you really don’t, and then charge you for a brand new replacement part without substituting anything at all.

When you get your repair estimate, ask for the breakdown of labor and parts. If something seems off, ask your mechanic to explain. Since very few consumers know the cost of parts or what is reasonable, questionable mechanics can often profit from consumers’ unfamiliarity.

You Can Trust the Experts at Virginia Tire & Auto

Here at Virginia Tire & Auto, you don’t have to worry about any auto mechanic tricks.

Our employees receive top-of-the-line education and spent a total of over 3,800 hours in classroom training sessions throughout the last year. Virginia Tire & Auto mechanics and tire experts will never try to sell you a service you don’t need, overcharge you for parts and services, or do a repair without your consent. We are 100% committed to making sure that customers are 100% satisfied with their experience. We pride ourselves on our customer service, honesty, and integrity.

Find your local shop, and come visit us today!

What can we help you with?

  • Shop Tires

    Top brands. 110% tire price guarantee. Search by vehicle or tire size.

  • Schedule Appointment

    Any car. Any year. Any job. Our technicians can do it all.