AVOIDING “STEALERSHIPS” AND DISHONEST REPAIR SHOPS
wanted: a good honest mechanic
However, going through the receipts on the car, I was blown away by the 20-25 “repairs” that had been done to it. A dealer had charged her over $2500 to replace the timing belt—this on a car with 20K miles! There were charges of $100 to “check bulbs” and another for $100 to “turn off maintenance lights” and many other charges like “inspect blah blah, blah blah”.
This poor woman, probably sensing what was going on, switched to an independent shop. But reviewing those receipts; the new shop simply did more of the same to her.
To begin with it’s important that you know there are 2 kinds of repairs done to your car: mechanical repairs and auto body repairs.
And your first response is “DUH, I knew that” but did you know that California commissioned a study and found 1 in 2 auto repairs had “fraudulent activity” in one way or another.
That is—repairs that were NOT needed, parts installed that were NOT needed, or charges for services that were never performed.
I saw it when I worked in the body shop and my mechanic friends said the same for their industry.
Mechanics repair engines, carburetors, brakes, transmissions, electronic fuel injection systems - you know, the components that make the car go down the road. Other than business licenses, fire codes etc., the business is unregulated.
Autobody & Painting & Collision Repairs
Autobody technicians repair, repaint and restore car bodies. This includes glass, suspension and fenders, doors, ANYTHING that is damaged in an accident or collision. This includes damage by hail, trees and storms. They also repair old cars that need restoration.
Like mechanics, body shops don't require training unless the body shop is a "DRP" or "direct repair provider." To become a DRP, insurance companies require proof of training and a certificate showing that the training was completed. Theses certificates are usually displayed on the wall of the estimator or managers office. Many body shops now demand that tech's have training and hold these certifications. Given the complexity of modern cars, it's very important that your car be repaired by a technician that completed this training. So If you're getting an estimate, always look for these diplomas-certificates AND check the dates on them too.
wanted: a good honest mechanic
So How do I Find an Honest Mechanic?
Check the Better Business Bureau for reports on shops in your area
Check Angie’s list and reviews on YELP. Check on a warranty too
For major repairs, get a written estimate and compare shops-prices
My friend, a mechanic, suggested checking conditions at the shop.
Ask to see the parts they replaced, BEFORE they return it for rebuilding/reconditioning.
Ask if the mechanics and technicians are ASE, or ICAR or NATEF certified.
Use AAA car repair estimator first. AAA also rates repair shops and you can trust their rating. There are other repair estimators online too and at libraries.
If you find an honest shop and mechanic, stay with them and tell your friends about it.
Hate to say it - but have a man with you to schedule the work and dress DOWN to do it.
Ask your friends and neighbors who they use and trust to repair their cars.
On expensive repairs: “bargain like a gypsy, pay like a prince.” Everything is negotiable, so haggle-bargain to begin with, but pay without quibbling when the bill is due. Shops negotiate all the time, but loathe customers that balk at paying after repairs are completed.
I hired an Acura dealership to do my timing belt and bargained the price down with them. They lowered the bill over $500 when I pointed out I could get it done cheaper elsewhere.
We at CheckMyFluids.Com honestly believe most body shops and mechanical shops are ethical, but the old adage applies: 90% of problems come from 10% of the shops. Those shops give the entire industry a bad image, and one that we need to change.
Have you used a great shop, and had a good experience? Let us know and we’ll post it online.