Have you felt like you were the victim of an auto service scam? Avoid these scams and make sure your car is being cared for properly.
It can be difficult to avoid an auto service scam and find an auto mechanic that’s reliable, honest, and has your best interests in mind. Their job depends on your need for them to service your vehicle and some mechanics turn to cheap scams to get you to spend more during your service. If you don’t want to be ripped off by the mechanic shop, you need to have a better understanding of what to avoid so that you can drive with confidence.
Don’t Buy a New Tire
If your tire goes flat while you are driving down the road, there’s a good chance that the tire can be repaired and won’t need to be replaced. Tires can go flat from punctures that can easily be repaired as long as you stop as soon as the tire is flat. There’s a big difference in cost between a new tire and a useable flat one.
Typically, a tire patch to repair your tire will only cost $20 or less while a new tire can cost more than $100 each. Ask to see the tread and for the service team to explain their logic when you know your tire still has good tread on it.
The Upsell Auto Service Scam
Once you’re at a service location with your vehicle and they have control of your vehicle, there’s a chance you’re going to be subjected to an upsell scam. If you’re in for an oil change, the team at the shop might try to offer you services you don’t need and upsell you while you’re there.
One of the most common upsells is to offer to replace the coolant in your radiator. This fluid doesn’t go bad or wear like oil and only needs to be replaced every 100,000 miles, which means you likely won’t need to have it done.
A Dirty Air Filter that Doesn’t Belong to You
The air filters of your vehicle are easy to replace. Do you want to pay someone to do something easy that you can do yourself? Even if you do, it’s important to make sure the air filter the repair mechanic shows you belong to your vehicle before agreeing to a replacement.
Its common practice for a mechanic to bring out a filthy air filter that isn’t from your car. There are two air filters in vehicles, one for the engine and one for the cabin. These only need to be replaced about every 15,000 to 20,000 miles.
Dirty Fuel Injectors
The mechanic might try to pull the same stunt with a fuel injector as with an air filter. Your fuel injectors aren’t going to get dirty very often because gasoline has a detergent that keeps them clean. You do need to change them, but not as often as the repair shop may suggest.
Consult your owner’s manual ad see how often your fuel injectors need to be replaced. Most likely, it’s not for 35,000 miles of driving or more, not when you change your oil. Don’t fall for this scam.
Used Parts Passed Off as New
If you’re paying for new parts, you should get new parts. Some shops will buy used parts or go to the junkyard and take parts off of a model that’s sitting in this site to be installed on your vehicle. They can save a lot of money doing this.
Ask to see the parts before they are installed and check that they are new, brand-name parts approved by the manufacturer. These parts are called Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts and they are what you should be allowed to be used on your vehicle.
Engine Flush Auto Service Scam
An engine flush service is a quick way for a service station to get you to spend nearly $200 for something you don’t really need. It’s not part of normal maintenance and is only necessary if you’ve neglected your vehicle and haven’t changed the oil when you are supposed to.
An engine flush can get rid of sludge in an engine, but it won’t be there if you’ve taken care of your car. If you buy a used car from a private seller, you might want this service, but otherwise, its not needed and just another service scam.
Lifetime Consumable Items
The fluids, brake pads, tires, and belts of your vehicle are all consumable items. These items will eventually need to be replaced and are on the list of regular maintenance items that you need to take care of. Don’t pay more for a lifetime warranty for something consumable.
An example of this is paying for lifetime transmission fluid, which is only good for 35,000 miles. Don’t fall for the hype and make sure you take care of the items that need to be cared for in your vehicle. Regular maintenance with the right items is all you need.
Frequent Oil Changes
In today’s market, you don’t need to change your oil every 3,000 miles. Even so, service stations still put stickers in the top left corner of your window to tell you that you need to have this service performed at this interval. You don’t need to do this.
Most manufacturers recommend an oil change every 5,000 miles and you can go farther if you choose to drive using higher quality oil in your vehicle. Follow the recommendations of the maker of your vehicle and the oil you put in it to only change your oil when necessary.
Broken Axle Boot Auto Service Scam
A broken axle boot can be expensive to replace and it should be repaired when it breaks from normal wear and tear. This is something that some mechanics will cut and then show you that will need to be replaced. You need to know how to recognize an axle boot that’s been cut.
If your axle boot is damaged from driving, the tear will be jagged and dirty with grease. If it’s been cut, the cut will be straight and clean. If your boot has been cut, you should demand the mechanic shop pay for it to be replaced at another location.
All that being said, not all shops are going to try to scam you. There are plenty of great shops around that would never try anything like this. However, its always a good idea to do some research on these things and know the signs of these problems.