Buying, running and maintaining a car can be a costly business. Fuel prices are at an all time high and Australian car insurance premiums have reached record levels. Its little wonder people are tightening their belts and looking for new ways to save money. Here are the top ways to avoid being scammed at the car repairers…
One of the biggest motoring expenses is having your car regularly serviced, or repaired when it goes wrong. Whilst the vast majority of car repairers are honest, hardworking and reliable tradespeople, there is a small minority of rogue mechanics looking to earn a quick buck by taking advantage of the uninformed or novice car owner.
For some auto-repair centres the opportunity to scam is all too easy and auto mechanic scams are one of the most common forms of reported consumer rip-offs. For most of us cars are an essential part of our everyday lives, yet we don’t possess the knowledge or skill to fix or spot problems.
The great news is that it is easy to protect yourself against such scams and can avoid ever having to pay more than you should at the repairers again.
Scam 1 – Loads more damage came to light after you left
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book and mechanics will use this trick to scaremonger you into agreeing to pay for more work than you need to.
Make sure that when you leave the repairs you are fully aware of what needs to be done and make it very clear that you will only be paying what has been quoted when you collect the vehicle. Ask them to document that they MUST NOT proceed with any additional work without your express permission.
Scam 2 – The engine flush
If you are told that your engine is dirty and needs to be ‘flushed’ you should become immediately suspicious, particularly if your car is new or nearly new, as this procedure is very rarely needed until you have been driving the vehicle for a significant number of years.
An engine flush should not be part of a normal maintenance service and is only used when an engine is running too hot due to a long-term buildup of ‘sludge’.
Scam 3 – Charging for new parts, but installing used parts
Avoid this common scam by asking to look at the part they’ll be using prior to it being fitted. If it looks used, pre worn or dirty then ask them to reconsider their charges.
Scam 4 – You need a complete brake overhaul
Most drivers are willing to pay a premium to ensure their brakes are in good working order and unscrupulous mechanics will play on this. There is a huge difference in cost between having your brake pads replaced and also having the calipers and seals replaced as well.
If your car is relatively new (under 10 years old with less than 200,000 miles on the clock) it is highly unlikely that a procedure this drastic will need to be undertaken. If a garage advises you of this, then always get a second opinion before agreeing to the work.