When we go to a mechanic, we expect them to be honest and tell us what’s wrong with our car to the best of their ability. It’s a simple and reasonable expectation to have as a customer.
Unfortunately, there are always a few bad apples that ruin it for everyone else. The vast majority of mechanics are honest or at least try to be.
As a customer of InstaMek, you know we care about you so we don’t do any of these things but if you did end up in a situation where you can’t use us then watch out for the following:
Saying They Replaced Parts When They Actually Didn’t
This is the most dishonest of them all and you’ll find countless stories on the internet about this. You’ll come in with a check engine light and the mechanic will recommend a new oxygen sensor. In reality, it was a loose connection that just needed to be plugged in but you “bought” a brand new part that was never installed.
To avoid this situation, always ask for the old part and inspect it to the best of your ability. Some shops “conveniently” dispose of the part but at InstaMek we always have your old parts.
Putting In Used Parts and Selling You “Brand New” Parts
This one is harder to catch because you often can’t see the new part after it’s installed.
In this situation, a mechanic will sell you a high-end part but install a used part instead. You’ll most likely never find out but it’s something you watch out for.
This is why trust is so important and you should continue reading about how you can avoid this happening to you.
Selling Services You Don’t Need
This is particularly common at dealerships and quick lube shops where they get in the door with a cheap oil change. Most shops don’t make money on small jobs so it’s in their best interests to upsell you on services that you don’t need so they can meet their sales targets.
You can avoid this by only performing the scheduled services in your owner’s manual. It can be tough to say no to these convincing salespeople so it’s even better to avoid shops that get you in the door with cheap oil changes.
“They all do that”
This one is mostly for vehicles under warranty and can be especially frustrating. It’s when you complain about an issue but no one believes you! They’ll say things like it’s normal, or it’s fine that’s to be expected but you know it’s not.
The reason why they don’t want to buy your story is because of warranty repairs versus actual repairs. When dealerships are paid for warranty work it’s far less than out-of-warranty work so it’s in their best interest to say no.
Take the 7 series BMW as an example. They have a gasket for the front timing cover that has a design flaw so it leaks when new. It should be covered under warranty but the hours given to the dealership are way less than the actual time required to fix it. In this case, they’re incentivized to push it until the vehicle is out of warranty so they can charge the customer for this expensive service.
How to Protect Yourself
You have to understand that most mechanics are honest and looking for repeat business — it’s the few bad apples that ruin it for everyone else.
You also have to understand the balance between a mechanic telling you a lie versus a mechanic telling you what you don’t want to hear. Just because the news is bad and you have a huge repair bill doesn’t mean the mechanic is lying.
If a mechanic is saying you to service your transmission fluid or change your spark plugs as part of regular maintenance doesn’t mean he’s lying either.
At the end of the day, there are an infinite number of ways a mechanic or shop can play the system to make sure they win at your expense so the best way to deal with this is to:
1) Find a shop or mechanic with a good reputation and lots of repeat business
If you find lots of good online reviews it shows that they care about their reputation so the odds are in your favor that they’re honest.
2) Don’t base your decision on price
This is probably the easiest way to get taken for a ride — a lot of shops will try to get you in the door with a low or very low price. Once you’re in, they’ll try their hardest to upsell you on services you don’t need or change the scope of the job. It makes sense because they have to make money to survive so they’ll try to do it in unsavory ways.
If you go to a shop that’s on the higher end they’re less incentivized to make money in shady ways and more inclined to look for repeat business in an honest way.
3) Deal with one shop
The best way to make sure you don’t get ripped off is to go to the same mechanic or shop every time. In this case, they will value the long-term relationship with you over short-term profits.
We hope that this shop is InstaMek for you 🙂