Top 3 Auto Scams Revealed and How You Can Avoid Them

Did you know that auto repair shop scams top the list of consumer complaints? There are many reputable car repair places out there, but unfortunately there are many which are notorious for overcharging and even scamming the customer. These days we seem to know less and less about what is actually happening with our cars. As technology advances we become even more reluctant to take on even the simplest repair jobs ourselves.

If you dread taking your car to the repair shop here are the top 3 auto scams which are practiced in the industry. If you know how you are likely to be scammed, you will stand a much better chance of being ripped off.

The Dirty Air Filter Scam

This is one of the more common scams which you may find yourself faced with. You may be taking your car in for regular maintenance and the mechanic tells you that you have an air filter which must be replaced. If you don’t do this there is nothing to stop debris getting into your car engine and this can result in extensive damage to your car engine. It really needs to be replaced or you could risk a very costly repair in the near future.

The auto shop may also show you the air filter. It will be very dirty. There are two problems with this. The first one is pretty fundamental. This may not be your air filter. It could be one that the auto repair shop keeps on the shelf to show unsuspecting customers every day. It’s a recognized scam and employees are sometimes told that they have to do it or they will be shown the door.

The second problem is that even if your air filter is dirty it may not need replacing. There are two different types of air filter on your car and the scam could relate to either. There is an engine air filter which is supposed to filter debris and keep it away from your car engine. There is also a cabin air filter which cleans the air coming in from the outside to ventilate the inside of your car.

Make sure that the filter that they are showing you is actually yours. Ask them to show you where in your car it was removed from. Check your own manual as to how often the filter should be replaced. Usually cabin air filters will last for 20,000 miles or so.

The Oil Change Scam

You may encounter this one when you take your car in for an oil change. This should be a simple job and it is one which you could do at home. However, most people don’t know this so they take their car into the auto repair shop.

You happily leave your car for a simple oil change. Then you get the call. It is way more complicated than you think. They explain that if you don’t do what they recommend the consequences are so bad that your will end up with a very expensive repair in the near future.

You are told to believe that if you do not upgrade your oil your car will not function properly and the engine could sustain serious damage.

You may be told that the start of these problems was only seen when the car was put up on the hoist. These problems are impossible to see unless you are looking under the car and know what you are looking for.

This scam uses fear very well. They know that car owners are concerned about car safety and avoiding problems in the future. They can play to both of these fears with this scam.

To add an extra layer to the fear and to convince you that they are only looking after your own wellbeing they may even say that you have to sign a document to say that you have been warned of the danger of not getting the work done.

If this happens to you and they are refusing to release your car politely set out that they are not entitled to do that. If they still refuse say that you will call the police. You are within your rights to do so as they cannot retain your car in this way. If they know that you are on to them they will probably just let your car go and move on to their next scam victim.

The We Won’t Let You Have Your Car Back Scam

This can be a very stressful and frightening scam to deal with. You take your car in for a simple repair and ask them to look at it. You may authorize a small amount of work.

A few hours after you leave the auto repair shop and then you get the dreaded call. They have looked at the car and found lots of problems. Again, these only became clear when they got the car up on the hoist.

Things are serious and your car is dangerous if you continue to run it. Or if you keep driving it without having these repairs done you will soon be paying serious money to have the repairs done when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere in the dark. Again, they are playing on your fears. You know you need a safe and reliable car and you just can’t take the risk.

Whatever you do, don’t fall for this one. If you are being told that your car needs extensive repairs and you have any feelings at all that you may be being scammed, get your car out of there.

This is where the second part of the scam may come into play. The auto repair shop may say that they have already done the repairs and you owe them money. They say that if you don’t settle their bill in full they will not be releasing the car to you.

They can’t do this. If you did not authorize repairs you do not have to pay for them. You may have signed something to say that you would pay for the investigation so you do need to pay for that.

However, don’t pay for things you did not authorize. If they still won’t give you the car back, you can say that you will call the police. They are not entitled to hold onto your car until you pay the bill.


Photo by Nick Vidal-Hall

The Auto Jobs You Can Do Yourself Even Though You Think You Can’t

You may have always thought that all auto jobs are best left to the experts. Certainly the auto industry wants us to think that. Many people are now wondering which auto jobs you can do yourself. Car maintenance is expensive and tackling your own auto jobs is a great way to save yourself some money.

Which auto jobs can you easily learn how to do yourself? Here are some very simple jobs that you can do with no previous experience.

Replace the Air Filter

air filter photo
Photo by eurosporttuning

This is a very easy job that you can do yourself. You need to look in your car manual as to how often this should be done, but generally it is once a year or when you reach 12,000 miles, whichever is the sooner. It is important to change it regularly as the air filter prevents debris and contaminants getting into the car engine.

Oil Change

oil change photo
Photo by ~ezs

This is another auto job which is frequently done at the dealership, but is very easy to do yourself. It is an essential job, which if you do it yourself, is inexpensive. You must do this job regularly as oil is needed to lubricate all the parts of the car engine so that everything keeps working smoothly.

Do not do this if the car engine is still warm. Wait until a couple of hours have passed since driving your car.

Always leave oil filter changes to the experts if you are a beginner. This is a different task which should be left to someone who is confident in what they are doing.

Replacing the Washer Tank

These are usually pretty easy to remove and replace. Always remove the wiring to the pump first. Then remove the actual washer tank – they are usually only held on with a couple of blots so this should be a simple job.

Change Your Wiper Blades

wiper blades photo
Photo by davedehetre

Windshield wipers are one of the most important safety features of your car. If they are not functioning properly you will not be able to safely drive your car in rain or snow. Windshield wiper blades are made of rubber and these can wear out surprisingly quickly. It is likely that this is a job which will need doing at least once every twelve months. This is true no matter what kind of climate you live in.

This is one of the easiest auto repair jobs that you can do.

Blown Fuses and Bulbs

It is very common for the fuse to blow on headlights and brake lights. Don’t ever rush to the car repair shop to get this job done. If a car light isn’t working the most likely cause is that the fuse is blown or the bulb needs replacing.

Check the bulb first and if this is not the cause then look at the fuse box. Check your car’s manual to find the fuse box. This will also tell you which type of fuse you need to change.

How to Get Comfortable Under the Hood and Tackle Those Easy Auto Repairs

Do you want to get started on learning how to do easy auto repairs yourself? If you want to save a lot of money by avoiding the auto repair shop as much as possible it makes a whole lot of sense to do some of the easy auto repairs yourself. Once you realize how easy some of those auto repairs really are, and how much money that you can save, you will soon get the confidence to complete a whole variety of repair tasks on your own.

Why Should You Think About Doing Your Own Auto Repairs?

There are a number of reasons why you really should get familiar with your car and stop thinking all the repair jobs are for the experts:

  • You will save money. Auto expenses are one of the biggest drains on a household budget. You can save much needed cash if you are preparing to tackle some jobs yourself.
  • It really isn’t that difficult. We may believe that everything is complicated, but it really isn’t. There are definitely some jobs which you should not take on yourself, but there are many that you can easily do with just some simple instructions and a basic set of tools.
  • The auto repair industry is plagued with scams. Many of the auto repair shops out there are highly reputable, but it can be difficult to find the good guys sometimes. Even the big chain auto shops have been involved in systematically ripping off customers. Having even a basic knowledge of how a car works will help you avoid being taken in by these scammers.

How Do You Get Started?

Always begin with a simple job to get some confidence first. You could start with replacing your windshield wipers. This job needs to be done about every 12 months, regardless of where you live. It is really simple and can be done in minutes. A real confidence builder is realizing how easy it is to change the oil in your car. This is a great one to start with.

There is a lot of information in books and online about how to tackle simple repair jobs on your car. If you learn best from watching demonstrations it is a good idea to search the internet for videos of how to complete simple auto repairs. You could also buy auto repair books which have good, illustrated, step by step instructions. Just pick the route that you find best for you.

What Should You Avoid?

There are certain jobs that should always be done by the professionals. You will soon become proficient in doing the easy jobs, but there are some things which are definitely best left to the experts to deal with. You should never try and repair a differential, carry out extensive body work repairs, replace a windshield, fix electrics or get anywhere near an airbag.

Once you start to see that you can do some basic auto repairs you will have the confidence to take on more and more.