Imagine that you are happily cruising along the highway and the unthinkable happens: your car breaks down. To make matters worse, the mechanic you give the job to scams you with a final bill amounting to much higher than you had originally agreed to.
Seems unlikely? Unfortunately, auto repair scams are more common than you might think. Read on to find out how you can avoid becoming another unsuspecting victim.
(Related story: The Ultimate Guide To Caring For Your Car)
(Related story: A Guide To Choosing The Right Car Workshop In Singapore)
Know your problem
If you can spot the problem with your car, try to do as much research on that problem before you even talk to the mechanic. Write down every detail you can find about the problem to help the mechanic identify your problem more easily. Take note of all the symptoms of the problem so you can check afterwards if the problem has been completely solved.
Learn the basics
Shady mechanics are much more likely to take advantage of you if they can tell that you do not know much about auto repair and maintenance.
While you do not need to take up a car repair class by any means, you should just spend some time going through your owner’s manual and know the basics of car maintenance as well as car maintenance schedules.
(Related story: The Most Common Car Maintenance Myths Debunked)
The best way to avoid getting scammed by a mechanic is to make sure that they are one that can be trusted. If you do not have a regular car mechanic you go to, a tried and tested method you can find a reliable one is through the referrals of your friends and family. Good car mechanics rely on word-of-mouth to get new clients because their skills and customer service speak for themselves.
They know that the best business strategy is to be honest and treat their clients well, so you are likely to be safe with a family or friend-backed mechanic.
Do a background check
Even after you get referrals from those close to you, do not skip out on a background check. Doing your research on the workshop and the mechanics can help you make sure that their business model and ethics are ones that you can agree with.
Some key things to take note of are the numbers of years in business, general appearance and amenities, credentials, warranties, and whether they pay their employees on a commission basis. The last one is important because if they pay their employees based on commission, that means that their mechanics are more likely to upsell and suggest unnecessary add-ons.
Comparing quotes from different mechanics about your problem can help you identify which businesses are scammers, and which are genuine. While “cheap” does not always mean “best”, neither does exorbitant prices that stick out from the rest.
What you are looking for is the average quote for your problem. If a mechanic quotes you much higher or lower than that average, you should be wary of them.
Check new auto part prices
Dishonest mechanics will jump at any opportunity to overcharge their clients. One of the main auto repair scams is charging an inflated price for replacing your car’s parts with new ones. You can avoid falling victim by doing your own research on what the market prices for your car parts are.
If you are unsure, call up your dealer or check online before paying your bill. Do not be shy about confronting your mechanic if you feel like the prices are too high. After all, you are a paying client and have the right to be charged fairly.
Ask for your old parts back
Another one of the oldest auto repair scams in the book is charging clients for part replacements but not actually changing anything. While it might seem a bit much, requesting for the mechanic to hand you back the old parts ensures that they actually do replace your car parts.
The last thing you want when your car is in need of repairs is a blow to your wallet. Keep yourself safe from dishonest mechanics by following these tips, and even an event like your car breaking down will not phase you.