Just because this article is about crooked mechanics doesn’t mean that I think all or even a majority of automotive technicians are crooked. Being a professional mechanic for about 30 years I have worked with and for many honest and talented people that cared about the consumer.
With that said, there was often a bad apple in the bunch that did things that were selfish and harmful to the customers. Whenever I start telling stories about crooked mechanics the first one that pops into my head was a dealership mechanic I worked with in the 80’s that kept a squeeze bottle of used engine oil in his toolbox.
He would squirt it around gasket surfaces and then claimed that they where leaking and needed repair. When we start talking about good mechanics and bad ones I think it is necessary to point out that any industry will have its share of good and bad people contained within that microcosm. In fact this is just my opinion, but I’ve met more crooked Dentists and Doctors then I have professional automobile technicians.
I even came across a few plumbers and electricians that I would put into this category of evil doers. So let’s be clear I am not singling out the auto repair business or picking on technicians. It’s just a fact of life that you will run into people that would rather spend their time and energy beating people out of money instead of earning it.
Things to Look Out For
One thing I would like to point out is that I have worked for extremely reputable and honest businesses that turned to the dark side when things got slow and the business was in trouble. When the shop owner is finding it difficult to pay the bills and put food on the table for their family they can get desperate to generate revenue. Human beings and animals alike can get aggressive when starved or cornered.
If you pull into your favorite repair shop and you see the employee’s playing cards, the parking lot is empty and that no cars are inside the building or up on the lifts this means that things are slow for them. This doesn’t mean that you should go running for the hills or find another repair shop it just means that you should be on your toes. In fact if the repair center remains honest through these types of conditions you have probably found an extremely reliable and honest business worthy of word of mouth advertising ( PLEASE Tell Your Friends ).
How to Tell Something is Wrong
One sign of problems is when the repair center is recommending a list of services that are unrelated to the main reason of your visit. If you came in for an air conditioner not blowing cold air and they start recommending a tire rotation and shock absorbers on the rear of the vehicle this could be a sign. Again I’m not saying that these repairs are not needed but you should start asking questions about why they are recommended.
When the list of recommended services is extensive this can also be a warning sign. If you keep up on regular maintenance and there are no problems with the automobile other than the windshield wipers hitting each-other you may want to put off the laundry list of unrelated maintenance recommended by this shop. You might also want to seek out a second opinion or do more research on the individual recommended repairs. You don’t have to say yes right away in fact you can tell the shop that you want to think about it and you will get back to them at a later date.
Then from the comfort of your own home you can scour through the owner’s manual and see if the services are recommended by the manufacturer. You can also do some online research and even ask professional mechanics if they would do those services at the specific mileage if this was their personal car.
Another sign that there could be trouble is when you asked the shop to save the old parts and then show up to find they are not there. I have seen this too many times to think it was just an isolated incident. I have seen customers ask for the old parts to be returned and instead the shop had a bag full of reasons that they couldn’t comply. If they say we forgot and threw those items away, you can say well dig them out of the trash and put them in a plastic bag for me. You can also double check the part numbers to make sure they belong in your car.
Another sign that there could be problems brewing is when the mechanic or service adviser or shop owner takes a defensive and or aggressive position. Consumers ask questions when money is involved. Businesses should not only be able to answer questions they should be happy to provide the answers. Aggressive or defensive positions may be an indication of internal guilt on the part of the seller.
So I said that I would provide three signs that your mechanic is crooked but I added an extra one for good measure. As a review number one would be a business with no customers. Number two is when the mechanic recommends services that are not related to the problem you came in for. Number three was when you ask them to save the old parts they came up with several excuses why they couldn’t. And number four is if the business becomes defensive and aggressive when questions are asked about the estimate for services.
Remember I stated in the beginning of this article I don’t think all mechanics are crooks. I have made it a point to be honest throughout my 30 year career and I know I’m not alone. I think there are other businesses such as dentists and electricians that might have more fraud and abuse then the retail automotive repair business. So if you’re an angry mechanic don’t bother leaving a comment at the bottom, because that means you didn’t read this article. If you would like to see additional articles this next link takes you to the CertifiedMasterTech.com blog.