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.