This is a re-posting of a blog from November or 2008
We all know the horror stories about car-owners who are taken to the cleaners by unsavory auto service centers, out to make big bucks off the ignorance of neophytes. Most of us know that getting a simple oil change may result in garage managers trying to sell their customers unneeded parts such as air filters, brakes, shocks, serpentine belts, and such. Young women, in particular, are an easy target.
But I never thought a garage would stoop to the bottom of the sleaze scale by staging a problem in order to make a big sale. Such is the case with a 22 year-old woman who recently took her Jeep Liberty to a local, all-service tire service dealer in Melbourne for an oil change. When she returned to pick up her car, the message was dire. “You have a major oil leak, Miss. You need to have this fixed right away.”
Fortunately, her grandfather had forewarned her about auto service predators. Her response was simple. “Thank you. I’ll have it checked by my mechanic.”
And so she did. The vehicle was brought to a certified master mechanic in Rockledge with a long-standing reputation of honest service. Sure enough, the alleged “major oil leak” was fictitious. This incident was especially egregious because the tire center personnel had loosely inserted the oil filter and poured oil over the engine to give the bogus appearance of a serious leak.
While most licensed auto service dealers are reputable, auto repair fraud is still a common problem all over the nation. Too often, estimates are inflated, unneeded parts are sold to unknowing customers, and the most unsavory of all — like in the case mentioned above — will produce a bogus problem.
Here’s a few important tips:
* Always ask for written estimates for repairs.
* Do a background check on the garage/mechanic. Contact the Better Business Bureau.
* Be sure. Do not approve of a repair job unless you’re sure it is legitimate.
* Get a second, or a third opinion from a certified, licensed auto mechanic.
* Ask that they provide you with the used parts that are replaced, such as brake pads.
* Do not accept, at face value, everything that an auto service center will claim is wrong. Be suspicious.
* Watch out for discount specials. Crooked repair shops will advertise oil changes, lube jobs and tire rotation specials as hooks to lure customers into the web of deceit.
* Try to establish a trusted relationship with a regular, certified mechanic for all your auto service needs.
It’s good to bear in mind that many tire and muffler auto centers do not make their profits off oil changes and selling tires. Franchise stores are under pressure to make extra sales in order to pay the rent.
The 22 year-old woman was lucky enough to have a caring grandfather, otherwise she may have been raked for a thousand dollars, when all she needed was a $25 change of oil.
Don’t let that happen to you.
p.s. The young woman’s grandfather writes books and blogs and struggles with the violin. Hmm.