avoiding auto mechanic rip offs

Avoiding auto mechanic rip offs essentially comes down to one thing.


Finding out who deserves yours and who doesn’t is not an easy thing, unfortunately.

Trust is the foundation that exists in all relationships, no matter how minor or serious they are.  Some jobs seem to require trust more than others, but those are also the hardest to find trustworthy people.  Do people trust lawyers? Do you trust politicians?

And today we shall discuss, do you trust your mechanic?

No?  Don’t worry: most people don’t.

I’d love to say that every person is honest, but they aren’t.  How can we tell who is being honest with us and who isn’t? There are some things that aren’t hard to do at all, just takes a little time.

Going With the Dealership Option

The easiest answer to the mechanic question is also the most expensive answer: Take it to the dealership you bought it from.

Many of them give a coupon book for free oil changes, discounts on other work, and — in my case — a $500 off my next car purchase with them.   These coupons equal up to thousands of dollars saved, even if you just use the coupons for oil changes only.

The trick, though: once you go somewhere else besides that dealership or once you miss a scheduled mandatory oil change, the rest of those coupons become void.

Dealerships are also known for being very, very expensive, but the confidence that the work was done and done right is the pay off.

Going With Someone Else

Not doing the dealership option?  Join the club. You are now in the world of the auto mechanic, and in my personal experience, you have a 50/50 chance of getting an honest/dishonest one.

Let me tell you a little about my life from 2001-2002…

I got fed up with this game,
and I still had the same problems.
The only thing that had
really changed
was my bank balance.

I had a car that kept giving me problems. A friend recommended a friend of his.  I took my car there and after $150 it was working.

…until the next day it broke again.

$150 later and a different issue, solved… until a few days later.

I think you see how this is going to go.  The price was always in the $150 area. Not so expensive that I wouldn’t take the chance since this would “fix it for sure” each time.

I got fed up with this game, and I still had the same problems. The only thing that had really changed was my bank balance.

I take it to another shop of people I didn’t know and in five minutes this guy says I’ve had a cracked head gasket for awhile and that “anyone that knows cars would have seen this right away.” I took it somewhere else and got the same answer.

So I learned that this guy that did auto work “on the side” while at his body shop was just taking $150 every time I walked in, with no intention of fixing the problem.

Needless to say, I’ve never seen him again and don’t take my friends recommendations anymore.

Avoiding Auto Mechanic Rip Offs

When a car is broken down all we think about is getting it fixed, and now.

A dishonest mechanic knows how to play on your panic and need to get your car back to charge you “whatever it takes” to get your back.  An honest mechanic is going to fix your car as soon as they can no matter the price. They won’t rush yours, because the honest mechanic has other cars to fix also that are just as important.   Don’t pay more to have the repair “rushed.”

Does your car need a part?
See if you can buy or order the part online yourself and bring it to them.  That will save some money, especially if it’s a type of part you can buy used and online.  I saved about $80 getting a used starter instead of having them order me a new one.

Don’t be at all afraid to tell the first mechanic “no” and get a second opinion. 
I wish I had done that $600 earlier when it came to my car from 2002. Again, an honest mechanic is more than fine letting you price with other people and getting your business.  A mechanic that is pushy for you to trust them and don’t go anywhere else my very well have a good reason that they don’t want you go somewhere else. Usually that is because of price.

We’ve got the internet!  Reviews, reviews, reviews!
Get online and google mechanics, look at the ratings, read reviews and make in informed decision.  Read through multiple reviews, take the good and the bad and figure out what the truth is amongst them.  

The best way of avoiding auto mechanic rip offs is to be involved. 
You don’t have to know a lot about cars to protect your pocketbook. All you need to know is how to be curious and interested in your own financial investment.

  • Look up the cost of that timing belt online and compare to what you’re being told.
  • Did they order the part for you? Ask for proof it’s a new part and not a used one.
  • Do you feel pressured? Get out of there.

Whatever it is you decide to do with your vehicle and the repairs it needs, don’t take the quick or easy way out.  This car is so much more important than that. Take the time to review mechanics, take time to talk to your friends about who they use.

A mechanic is not a mechanic; it’s a lifelong relationship.

You’re always going to have a car, you’re always going to need work done on it.  May as well take your time to find that right one you can trust. It truly is the foundation of all relationships.

Drive safe and change your oil!
Billy McFarland


Leave a Comment