40 Deceitful Mechanic Antics To Watch Out For

By Jishnu B

Have you ever gone to an auto repair shop for routine tire maintenance only to be sold a camshaft replacement? Or did you go in for a simple oil change and the mechanic informed you that you require costly new engine parts? We can almost guarantee that nearly everyone has gone to a local auto repair shop for routine maintenance only to leave having paid an unexpected extra charge. Mechanics are difficult to trust these days as you are skeptical that they will not give you the runaround for an extra couple of bucks. Although most car mechanics are honest and hardworking, some wouldn’t think twice about ripping you off for their own benefit. To help you spot some shady mechanic antics, let’s review a list of secrets they really don’t want you to know.

Always Make Sure

Taking care of a car is similar to taking care of a child. Even automobiles require nurturing, which we refer to as routine maintenance. A regular maintenance schedule is especially important to ensure that the car’s functions are working properly. This, in turn, will assist you in avoiding costly repairs in the future.

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However, while you’re waiting for the routine check-up to be completed, you should be cautious of a few things. Check that the mechanic is not ignoring the minor tasks. Although it may not immediately impact the car’s performance, it will over time.

Local Auto Repair Shops Vs. Dealers

As a car owner, your car will require repairs or servicing once in a while. You must be confused about whether to go to a local mechanic shop or a dealer auto repair shop. Although local shops offer cheaper servicing, dealers have specialized technicians and brand authority.

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Dealers specialize in specific car brands and have technicians who are qualified to handle the issues your vehicle is experiencing. In contrast to the dealer, a local shop may not have access to the original manufacturer’s car parts. If your car’s warranty is still valid, you will also receive free services from a dealer.

The Language of Cars

Imagine: you’re driving home from work one fine day when you notice your car making strange noises. Cars communicate through noises, which can range from screeching to thudding to rattling and so on. Although these sounds are usually harmless, they may sometimes require some attention.

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It’s a good idea to mimic the sound while you’re at the shop explaining what happened. Although it may seem like you’re making a fool of yourself, it’s actually the other way around. It assists mechanics in understanding the problem and saves you money on expensive repair bills through preventative maintenance.

It’s Not a Problem

Shady mechanics might go out of their way to prove something’s wrong with your car when it really isn’t. For instance, your transmission fluid pan might be found coated with metal powder. Mechanics can give you a scare, suggesting you need a pan replacement. 

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Unless you have proper knowledge, it pays to maintain a small amount of skepticism. Metal particles in the pan are fairly common as a result of normal wear and tear. However, you should be wary of metal chunks and fragments.

Understanding What’s Necessary 

Most of us are only well-versed in driving techniques and have little knowledge of how automobiles work. This could give mechanics an advantage in making a fool of you. They could tell you just about anything, and you wouldn’t know if something’s wrong.

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They may recommend costly repairs that your vehicle does not require. Be especially cautious when following a transmission flush recommendation. A transmission flush is only needed every two years. While not every mechanic is out to get you, there are a few who are.

Importance of Test Drive

In general, a test drive is a good idea to see if the car is running at peak performance after servicing. Although most local shop owners and dealers test-drive vehicles, some do not. So, you should always test drive the vehicle before bringing it home.

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A test drive will undoubtedly assist in identifying any issues that require further repair. It truly makes a difference, as stated by the mechanic in the statement. You’d think your car requires a complete rotor replacement when all it needs are new brake pads.

Make Your Own Calculations

Before you pay your auto repair bills, always make sure you understand the correct pricing. A little forethought will help you save some money indefinitely. This is due to mechanics’ tendency to inflate prices for services — so they can make a little extra money.

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You wouldn’t necessarily be skeptical about the fees if you only check up with one mechanic. Thus, it’s crucial that you visit more than one shop and don’t forget to ask about prices. The internet is a great resource for this.

Extra Charge for What Again?

Sometimes, mechanics can really employ wicked methods to squeeze extra money out of you. We understand that double the labor time necessitates a higher charge, but under what conditions? They sometimes charge exorbitant fees for a job that takes almost no time at all.

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Always ask how long repairs will take. You may be oblivious that, while fixing one thing, another job is taken care of almost incidentally. There’s no way they should charge you extra for tasks that are done simultaneously, and with some careful questions, you won’t be charged.

Perks of Warranties

Many people are unaware that catalytic converters and emission parts are legally covered by a longer warranty. So, if you’re still within the warranty period, you can replace the parts for free. Given the high cost of car parts, having a longer warranty is music to our ears.

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Car mechanics can easily charge us for these services because many people are unaware of this fact. Furthermore, warranty terms vary across different states. As a result, you should double-check its legality in your state before paying for any replacement parts.

The Tire Life Expectancy

If you’re out shopping for a tire, make sure to buy a brand new one. Even though old is always gold, it can be hazardous when you buy old tires. We know you’re wondering how you’d know their age, but don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

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Always make sure to ask for the build date of the tires. If you don’t trust your mechanic, you can check for yourself. You can find the chronological age of a tire on the sidewall detailing the manufacturing date. Next time you’re getting a tire at an unusually good price, you know what to do.

The Flush Gimmick

A mechanic may recommend services that are no longer required for your vehicle; like transmission flushing. The two most popular gimmick services are power steering flushes and coolant flushes. In fact, car manufacturers themselves advise against using transmission flushing chemicals.

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Nowadays, cars are built so that they do not require frequent flushing. Furthermore, these services are only required after you’ve gone over a hundred thousand miles. So, the next time your local mechanic suggests it to you, drive in the opposite direction.

The Optimal Servicing Time

We all love it when the weekend approaches and usually slack behind in our jobs the day before. The same is true for mechanics. Thus, taking your car for servicing on a Friday or at the end of the day is not a good idea.

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The day before the weekend, everybody just wants to go home after working long hours on the weekdays. Mechanics tend to rush the job as a result. It’s better to go early in the week. Tuesday is optimal day for a trip to the auto shop.

Watch Out for The Quality

Brake pads are one of the most important parts of a vehicle. However, far too many people skimp on brake pad quality, resulting in higher replacement costs. Poor quality pads are not worth it, even if they’re cheap, as they wear much quicker.

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A mechanic may not tell you what kind of brakes he’s using on your vehicle. Given its importance, you should ask about the brake pads. You should request either identical brakes or parts that are equivalent to the ones being replaced.

Keep It Close to Your Chest

When visiting a new auto repair shop, it’s best to keep the last one’s conversations to yourself. It is preferable not to share estimates from others in their industry. This is due to their tendency to change their prices and offers.

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Furthermore, you should keep the other mechanics’ conclusions to yourself. They may completely disagree with the previous diagnosis and even recommend additional costly repairs. Use this as an opportunity to practice your poker face. You can compare the diagnoses by yourself at home.

The Blank Page Bait

This seems obvious, but it’s worth repeating. Do you think it’s wise to sign a contract before it was even written? Your answer should, of course, be no. Imagine you signed a blank form, and now your local auto technician has the deed to your house. 

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Anyone could put whatever they wanted on the contract, and since you signed it, you would be bound by it. This happens frequently with mechanics, and we bet you had no clue about it. Remember never to sign a blank authorization form at a repair shop.

Equipment or Skillful Hands?

Never put your trust in a mechanic who thinks they are superior to their tools. Equipment is built for a reason — to execute certain tasks efficiently. We understand that some tools are crazy expensive, which most mechanics can’t afford.

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However, this doesn’t mean that they are completely unnecessary. It wouldn’t make sense to put faith in someone to fix your car without the proper tools. As a result, make sure you take your vehicle to a mechanic who knows what he needs and has it on hand. 

Reputation Matters

Since it’s tough to find reliable mechanics these days, it’s important that you do some research beforehand about their reputation before paying a visit. You can look for online reviews, and ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors or auto parts stores.

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When you visit a new shop, always be mindful of the environment. A reputable mechanic must have good communication skills and work ethic. The shop must reflect cleanliness as well. It’s important how a shop represents itself, whether they are a small local shop or a big dealer. 

The Flat Rate System

Most auto repair shops use a flat rate system to charge for their services. The system works by taking the average time required to complete a task and multiplying it by the flat rate. The system, however, is out of date and flawed.

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For example, if a technician finishes a job in 30 minutes that was initially estimated to take 2 hours, they will still charge you for the estimated time. Labor charges at a per hour rate would be much more flexible for customers, but alas…

The Rodent Infestation

This isn’t a problem we’d expect to encounter with automobiles. Apparently, if your car sits in the garage for too long, there are higher chances of rodent infestation. You might find rats or squirrels hanging out in your car after a while.

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One unfortunate mechanic shared that he once discovered mice nests in the air box. He also had to remove the deer gut. Be wary of chewed wires as well. If you’re going to store your vehicle for some time, it’s wise to use a rodent-repellent spray.

Proper Certification

Looking for proper certification is a good way to determine whether a mechanic is legitimate. ASE is one of the most respected certifications in the automotive industry. This ensures that the person behind the wrench is knowledgeable about cars — beyond just the basics.

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These certifications exist to improve and maintain vehicle repair quality. A mechanic must also pass an exam, have two years of on-the-job training, and a degree in automotive repair to qualify. You now know what to look for when looking for a credible technician.

The Questionable Test Drive

As we mentioned earlier, test-driving a car is an essential step to see whether it’s performing at an optimal level. Since mechanics already receive their flat rate charge, they don’t really get anything for test-driving it. This is where things can take a questionable turn.

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If the mechanic is going out to lunch, they may take the car for a spin on the way. They may not be cautious anymore as there is no pay for this step. Furthermore, it might not sit well with some that the technicians are running personal errands while using their vehicle.

Few Restrictions

If you’ve visited an auto repair shop, you’ve probably seen the forbidden door marked “Do Not Enter.” However, many have already gone through that mysterious door to check up on the ongoing work. You should know that the sign is there for a reason, and this rule is actually imposed by the insurance companies.

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Although it would make no difference if you entered the forbidden zone, insurance companies use it as a safeguard. Suppose you break an engine part while you’re in there; all the blame would fall on the mechanic. On the contrary, no one actually follows this rule.

The Tire Road Hazard Protection

When shopping for tires, you may come across deals that include a road hazard warranty. They promote it as an “investment,” as if it were real estate. Furthermore, these deals aren’t worth your time unless they’re completely free of any hidden fees.

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These protection warranties only cover tire damage caused by road hazards while driving normally. Accidental damages like popping a tire on a curb won’t be covered. You must also purchase a tire protection plan for four of your tires since you cannot predict which of your tires will be damaged.

Mechanic Ethics

We have already established the fact that many mechanics are shady. Since we live in a world that follows cause and effect, we can surely say that there’s a reason why they are like that. This is due to the flat-rate system; their wages tend to be very low.

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On the other hand, many technicians have good ethics and help those in need. Even if they are not obligated, they will stop to assist a stranded driver on the road. This truly speaks volumes, and they deserve our utmost respect for that.

The Art of Improvisation

Every job includes tasks that require improvisation and spontaneity. This is also true for automotive professionals and is often needed when using tools. There may be times when they are missing a tool or do not have an appropriate tool for the task.

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Automobile equipment is already crazy expensive, so it is always a good idea to create your own tools. It also shows how inventive an expert can be with their technical knowledge. Customizing your own tools is also a lot of fun.

When Work Becomes Recreation

Everyone appreciates relaxing after a long day at work. Some people enjoy watching movies or television shows, while others find comfort in cooking or sports. However, we don’t usually hear about people using their job as a leisure activity, too.

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Apparently, some mechanics prefer to tinker in their spare time. In fact, they enjoy it more if they have their personal vehicle to “play” with. It’s refreshing to see professionals who are so content with their jobs that they’ve turned them into a hobby.

The Tool Assembling

Since auto repair requires a lot of tools to do the job, mechanics actually prefer laying them out in order beforehand. Although technology has evolved to keep track of the order of the parts, some mechanics still like to do the task manually. 

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In the case of larger tasks such as transmission rebuild or an engine change, the tasks are usually spread out within multiple days. Larger assignments like this surely require neat equipment management. They arrange the equipment using handy tools such as a cookie sheet, magnets, sharpies, etc.

Cheap Scare Tactics

If you’re someone who’s not savvy about cars, watch out when you visit an auto repair shop for the first time. Mechanics can use cheap tactics to convince you that something is wrong with your car. Since you don’t know much about vehicles, you might fall for it.

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A huge chunk of their payload comes from making you worried about the car damages. Plus, fear goes a long way to manipulate people into making rash decisions. Keep one step ahead of them and don’t let their scare tactics cloud your judgment.

Ways of Getting Scammed

As if the various ways these mechanics can rip us off weren’t enough, it turns out there’s more. They have the tendency to replace a car part with a used part and tell you it’s new. The worst part is that they even hike up the prices for “newer parts.”

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It gets even more sinister when they don’t even bother replacing the parts and still raise the prices. Thus, always be sure to ask the mechanic about the parts they’re using and how much it’ll cost to replace them. If something seems shady, that’s your cue to take the backdoor.

Mechanic Language

Every profession has its own jargon, and the automobile industry is no exception. However, it comes down to the professionals on how they use these super complicated words. It turns out mechanics will use this complex vocabulary as a weapon to deceive you.

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Scammers will use these complicated terms to trick you into agreeing to unnecessary repairs. If you ever get the impression that they’re just throwing out big words that you don’t fully comprehend, always ask for an explanation. If they feel reluctant to explain the repairs, you can take your business elsewhere.

No One Knows It All

It’s normal to lack expertise in some aspects of your job. No matter how knowledgeable a professional technician is, it is not always possible to effectively diagnose every problem. And that’s okay. In fact, if someone claims to know it all, you should pay close attention to their behavior.

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Where manual diagnosis fails in accuracy, technology lends its helping hands. Since different car models have different repair needs, specialized computerized tests aid in analyzing the situation. Most reputable shops usually opt for engine analyzers and scan tools for accurate diagnoses.

Fake Auto Parts

We’ve all heard of mechanics deceiving customers using used auto parts, but have you heard of counterfeit parts? Counterfeit parts are simply imitations that perform the same function but are significantly less expensive and less durable. Worse, you’ll be charged full price for these fake parts without even knowing it.

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It’s disheartening to see how far these technicians will go to defraud us. These shady antics can endanger someone’s life, and such crimes are unquestionably punishable by law. After all, there is a significant risk that someone will be involved in a serious accident as a result of such negligence.

Too Good To Be True

Auto repair shops will sometimes offer really good deals on certain services to lure you in. However, as we’ve learned so far, you should always read the fine print. This is due to the fact that when you visit them for designated repairs, they might persuade you to pile up some other unnecessary repairs.

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This is switch fraud and you’re their bait. So, the next time you see an ad for a great deal on repair services, do your homework first. If you don’t keep your guard up, your repair costs can quickly skyrocket from $300 to $3000.

Unauthorized Work

Before providing any additional service, a mechanic should first check in with you. There’s no way they could sneak in extra charges if you didn’t authorize the work. In this case, you have every right to refuse to pay for the extra work.

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However, your refusal to pay may result in a heated argument. If they refuse to return your car, simply call the cops. They can’t boss you around when you’re the one who needs to give permission for these jobs in the first place.

Replace Everything?

Few auto repair services are so simple that they should take less than 30 minutes. One of the most straightforward tasks is dealing with brakes. All that is required is to replace the brake pads. However, as a novice customer, you may be unaware of this.

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Dodgy mechanics take your naivety as a weapon of deceit. They may tell you that all of the car’s parts must be replaced in order to complete a simple task. As a result, it is always a better option to look for multiple reviews on the shop before deciding to use their services.

Air Filter Replacement Tactics

The job of the air filter is to clean the air that circulates through your heating and cooling system. So, it makes sense why the filter would get dirty over time. However, mechanics can use the filter being dirty as an excuse to get a replacement. 

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But that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to replace it all. Filter replacements are only necessary after traveling for almost 25,000 miles. A little dirt in the filter doesn’t mean immediate replacement; it only shows that it’s doing its job perfectly well. 

The Tune-up Extinction

When it comes to the fast-paced automobile industry, the term “tune-up” is a thing of the past. It was most popular in the ’90s and it is basically a routine maintenance procedure. Unless your car is that dated, you don’t need to worry about this particular service. 

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If a mechanic suggests a tune-up for your 21st-century car, that is your cue to leave. Modern cars have built-in electronic ignition plugs that provide much more efficient use. You can even go longer than 100,000 miles with this system. 

Lifetime Warranties

A lifetime warranty sounds like you’ve won the lottery and that you don’t need to spend anything on your car for the next decade. By now, we have figured out that anything that’s “free” isn’t without charge. It should be noted that you can only get these warranties on certain car parts.

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Suppose you got a warranty on brakes and mufflers. This would mean that your warranty is only valid for the specific parts mentioned and disregards any supporting parts. Mechanics will therefore use it as an excuse to incentivize replacing other auto parts. 

The Backdated Services

Lubrication, like tune-ups, is a thing of the past. It was primarily used to reduce friction between automobile parts. Modern car parts don’t necessarily require this particular service as they are sealed and lubed permanently. It seems like mechanics will use any old trick in the book to scam you.

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There are, however, some instances where lubrication is required. Lube is essential in large vehicles, such as trucks, that have ball joints and tie rods. However, there are shops that specialize in truck services, so it’s unlikely that a regular shop would recommend that. 

The “Foreign” Car Excuse

In today’s episode of “mechanics making relentless excuses to scam you,” we have foreign cars. If you own a car from a foreign manufacturer, such as Toyota, Volkswagen, or Mazda, you will almost certainly hear that the services are more expensive. 

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Although the majority of these international brand vehicles are manufactured in the United States, there is no reason for them to charge a premium. However, it is entirely plausible when it comes to distinguishing how luxurious the brand is. BMWs are more expensive to repair than Hondas or Toyotas.