Most of us aren’t exactly mechanically inclined – that’s just a fact. So whether your car needs an oil change, a tire rotation, or more extensive maintenance, chances are that you’ll be bringing it to a mechanic who can take care of it for you.
But this can be a problem. Since many of us don’t know too much about auto repair, there are many auto mechanics out there who are somewhat shady – they’ll recommend services you don’t need, “fix” things that don’t need fixing, and take advantage of your lack of knowledge about your car.
Things don’t have to be this way, though. We’re here with a quick guide to help you spot shady auto mechanics – and avoid wasting time and money on their services.
1. Beware Of “The Scare”!
This is one of the biggest signs that you could be dealing with a shady mechanic. A great mechanic will never try to scare you into buying expensive services.
Look out for words and phrases like “I wouldn’t even drive this car another mile” or “You probably shouldn’t drive this home”. Usually, these aren’t real opinions on the condition of your car – they’re sales tactics designed to get you to stick around, and pay for expensive repairs that you might not need.
Don’t ignore a mechanic if they say that your car is unsafe to drive, but ask questions and make sure it’s an honest, qualified opinion – not just a sales tactic.
2. Ask For Certifications
Certifications are always a good thing. They’re a sign that your shop has gone through legitimate channels, and has conformed to a certain set of regulatory standards.
In North America, the primary certification program for mechanics is the ASE – The National Institute For Automotive Service Excellence. Certification from other auto groups like AAA and the ASA are also good signs.
Don’t’ be afraid to ask your mechanic about their relevant certifications, and request proof if you’re a bit dubious about their claims. If they’re above board, they won’t mind.
3. Always Get An Estimate Before Work Starts – And Make Sure There’s A Warranty
Even if you’re pretty confident in the legitimacy of your mechanic, you still want to get a binding written estimate regarding the services that will be performed on your car. Never sign a blank work authorization – a shady mechanic can take advantage of this by performing unnecessary services, and making you foot the bill.
You should also make sure that your repairs are covered by a warranty. A 90-day repair warranty is standard – if the same issue reoccurs after the repair within this period, you won’t have to pay anything for a repair. Make sure that the warranty is stated clearly somewhere in the terms of your service agreement.
4. Ask For Your Old Parts Back – Seriously!
This may seem silly, but it’s a good way to guarantee that your mechanic is actually doing the work that they claim to be doing. You can’t use your old parts – but if your mechanic actually replaced those parts, they’ll have no problem giving them back to you.
But if your mechanic refuses to give your old parts back, that could mean they were never removed in the first place – and that they weren’t actually in need of repairs.
5. Ask About What Replacement Parts Will Be Used
Generally, you’ll want OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts for your major auto repairs. These parts are issued directly from the manufacturer.
For example: if you have a Honda with worn-out brake rotors, you’ll be able to replace them with the exact same Honda brake rotors, issued directly from the company.
Now, there may be times when you don’t want to use OEM parts for smaller repairs like headlights or brake pad replacements. And that’s usually fine – but OEM parts should always be an option if you request them.
If your mechanic doesn’t offer any OEM parts at all, they may be using lower-quality aftermarket parts, charging you a surplus, and then pocketing the profit.
6. Never Take “It’s Hard To Explain” As An Answer
Auto mechanics are professional explainers. It’s their job to translate difficult mechanical issues into plain English – and explain to car owners what the problem is, and why it needs to be fixed.
This is why you should be very wary of any mechanic who brushes off questions about repairs with answers like “it’s hard to explain”, “it’s very complicated” or “you wouldn’t understand”.
You’re going to be paying money – potentially a lot of money – to this person to repair your car. Unless they can explain what’s going to be done to it, (and why) you shouldn’t trust them.
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Get A Second Opinion
If you’ve got a bad feeling about your mechanic, or you think that their repair estimate is way too high, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
One of the best ways to do this is with a simple Google search. There is a wealth of information out there about auto repairs, even on very specific car models. You should easily be able to see how much other people have paid for a similar repair, and determine whether or not your mechanic was giving a reasonable estimate.
You can also just take your car to a different mechanic – but you may have to pay for another inspection and diagnosis.
Whatever you choose to do, don’t be afraid to question the costs of a repair. A legitimate mechanic won’t be offended, and they can even break down the costs behind your repair, including parts and labor.
Follow These Tips – And Avoid Getting Scammed!
Most auto mechanics are legitimate businesses that do a great job of repairing both new and used vehicles – but there are always outliers. By following these tips, you can help ensure that you don’t fall victim to a shady or scammy auto dealer, and that you’ll never overpay for repairs.
Looking for repair services in Winnipeg? Come to Ride Time today! Our expert mechanics are certified by all major Canadian licensing organizations, and we pledge to always be honest about the costs of your repairs.
Whether you need a basic tune-up or a comprehensive repair estimate after an accident or a major breakdown, our specialists are on your side – and we’ll take great care of your vehicle.