Thursday, March 08, 2007

Top 5ive Sneaky Auto Repair Tricks

Top 5ive Sneaky Auto Repair Tricks

#1 Spit-Shine fixes
Here's the scam: The mechanic will tell you something in your car needs to be replaced, like the starter motor. But rather than replace that perfectly fine-functioning device, the mechanic simply removes it, gives it a good cleaning so it looks like new, and puts it back in your car. Parts singled out for the spit-shine trick are those that are easily removed, says Jack Nerad, executive editorial director of Kelley Blue Book. Batteries, for example, are prime targets, as are oil filters and radiators. Some shops won't bother to do anything at all -- instead telling you they replaced the part with one that was refurbished (and so, unlikely to appear shiny and new).

Your fix: Have your mechanic point out the part in question to be replaced. "Mark it in some way," suggests Nerad, while the mechanic isn't looking. If that seems pretty much impossible, take the car home before agreeing to the work. Try a dot of Wite-Out correction fluid or a swipe of chalk. Then, post-repair, ask to see the old part and the shop's purchase order for its replacement. You'll know your old part by its identifying mark, and the new one from the dated receipt.

My comments: I was getting my car fixed and a mechanic came out to show another guy he worked with the part he took out of a car. He said he shined it up and put it back in the car.

I never felt my car was fixed right. I'm never going back there.

#2 Accelerated Maintenance
When it comes to regularly scheduled maintenance, your vehicle manufacturer and your mechanic agree on just one thing -- your car will need some work at some point. But their opinions on just what should be done and when are vastly different, says Karl Brauer, editor in chief of Edmunds.com. "The dealership's list will be two, three, four times as long," he says. "There's a lot of profit to be made in doing things that don't need to be done."

Take a 2005 Honda Accord, for example. After one year or 10,000 miles, Honda recommends rotating the tires and replacing the engine oil. In comparison, Majestic Honda dealership in Lincoln, R.I, recommends 17 points of inspection and repair after just 7,500 miles, from testing window wipers to lubricating door hinges.

Your fix: "The manufacturer knows best," says Brauer, so follow its suggested maintenance schedule. Instead of asking for a shop's 10,000-mile service package, pull out your owner's manual and point out exactly what you'd like done. Forget about the alternate schedule for heavy-use vehicles, he adds. Though your mechanic may try to convince you otherwise, most drivers just don't fall into that category, which is for drivers who drive off-road most of the time, or in temperatures below 10 degrees or in excess of 90 degrees. (Check your owner's manual for details.)

My comment: How many of us actually read these things? It's a good idea to.

#3 Guessing Games
Stalling car? It could be your fuel injectors. No, maybe it's your fuel pump. Beware so-called parts-replacers -- mechanics who can't figure out the problem but are happy to keep retooling your car, says Anthony Giorgianni, an associate editor with Consumer Reports. "He's guessing -- and he's charging you for his guesswork." Most parts-replacers just don't have the knowledge to properly diagnose car troubles, says Giorgianni, but some are purposely lax, banking on the idea that you'll keep coming in to get more work done.

Your fix: Ask your mechanic to make good on their initial goof, in the form of a refund or a discount on their next repair attempt, Giorgianni suggests. "You paid for something that was not the problem," he says, "and a good mechanic will give you credit for that work already done." But if your car troubles persist after a second repair attempt, it's time to find a new mechanic. "That one is not skilled enough to be working on your car."

My comment: The more you know about your car the better. Next best step is to find a mechanic who'll help youl

#4 Stupid Customer Tricks
Unscrupulous mechanics love to cash in on consumers' lack of knowledge about their own vehicles, says Brauer of Edmunds.com. A common trick involves your motor oil. "They hold the dipstick so it doesn't go all the way down," he says. Surprise, surprise -- you're short on oil. That's just a $5 to $10 "fix," but other tricks can be far more expensive. One detached spark plug simulates engine trouble very nicely (leading into a parts-replacer or a spit-shine fix).

Your fix: Such minor cons are impossible to pull if you have some basic knowledge of your own vehicle, says Michael Calkins, manager of approved auto repair for AAA. Consumers who know, for example, that no manufacturer recommends a power steering flush won't be conned into buying one at their local oil change shop. And if you can check your own oil, you'll never be fooled by the dipstick trick. Look to a basic auto repair book or even your vehicle owner's manual.

My comment: I need to read my owners manual.

#5 One Job, Twice the Labor
It's not uncommon: Your mechanic delves under the hood to make one repair, and in the process spots another part in need of fixing. Unfortunately, it's equally common to be charged as if the mechanic was taking apart your car twice — rather than just the once to access both problems, says Julie Sussman, co-author of "Dare to Repair Your Car." To get to a damaged water pump, she says, your mechanic would remove several belts. Should he notice a problem with a belt, he's not going to do twice the work (i.e., stick the belt back in the car and then remove it later for repair). "Why should you pay for twice the labor?" asks Sussman. "He was going to take the parts off anyway."

Your fix: When new problems show up midrepair, ask specifically about additional labor before giving your OK, says Sussman. Then check the final bill to ensure there's no overlap.

My comment: Understand your bill

50 comments:

/t. said...

finding
a good mechanic
is like finding gold

and probably about as rare

we had a great mechanic up in calgary and stayed with him for all of our vehicles -- when we moved to here, we found only one competent mechanic and several thieves

/t.

carmen said...

sorry, LL, but i don't have a car...
i like bicycles...

/t. said...

i ride
a bicycle, too
(motorcycle preferred)

my wife drives the family car

/t.

carmen said...

and, /t., we bumped into each other's posts...

do you feel better?/ glad to see you around...

carmen said...

oh, ghod, what a speed !!!

carmen said...

where's our host?? LL, i like your essay...it's so funny and ironic..

The Phosgene Kid said...

There are a to of snakes in the repair business. The body shop is another nest of vipers, especially if there is insurance money involved!!

Little Lamb said...

True. A lot of people out tbere work on ripping you off.

The Phosgene Kid said...

Hello Little Lamb, have a good weekend!!

Bird said...

uh oh - i bought a new car last fall and i've yet to read the owner's manual.

but i trust my mechanic.

Little Lamb said...

Thanks, Kid, you too.

Oh-oh Bird!

Enemy of the Republic said...

My husband handles all car business because anytime I deal with a mechanic, they treat me like a dumb female and overcharge me.

The Phosgene Kid said...

Still sneaking around auto repairs, LL?

Lexcen said...

The biggest scam of all is the compulsory servicing of a new car or else you void your warranty.

carmen said...

cars ARE an all-heal nuisance...entropic systems they are.

Little Lamb said...

Enemy, I hate that.

Kid, I found someone who is honest,but I think they may only do certain cars.

Lex, I didn't know they did that.

Carmne, yes they are.

carmen said...

carmen(mumbling): i do hate cars....mbbdssssmbbmb

Little Lamb said...

Sometimes they can be a pain, Carmen.

The Phosgene Kid said...

Fortunately the Air-conditioning in my car works - it has gotten warmer earlier than usual here.

Little Lamb said...

We haven't had many cold days this winter.

Jack K. said...

Great post.

Too many of us have gotten caught up in one or more of the schemes you outlined. I am sure there are many more we need to watch for.

Reading the owner's manual is a good idea. Having knowledge of the basics of auto mechanics is a good idea too.

I haven't worked on my own car since the advent of the on-board computer. I used to enjoy tune-ups and taking two days to do a half-hour job. tee hee

Little Lamb said...

Now with on board computers you may have to go to work as a mechanic.

jali said...

Great post lambie. (applause is happening right now)

Little Lamb said...

Thanks, jali.

The Phosgene Kid said...

I think you gave me the moxie - the Maintenance Required light just came on in my car!!

Little Lamb said...

Better have it checked out by a relyable mechanic.

puerileuwaite said...

Lamby - You know how I enjoy a good automotive related post. I remember how one time the mechanic swapped my entire engine out (at least he said he did). And the only reason I stopped by was to ask for directions.

Anonymous said...

set your engine back in , pueri...and we shall talk later....

/t. said...

dude,

you stopped
to ask directions?

well, serves you right then

/t.

Anonymous said...

i reject vulgarity...the anonym above must be taught a lesson...
how to put his engine in order...

Little Lamb said...

Pug, you gotta watch out for those mechanics especially if you ask for directions. They always want to look under your hood.

puerileuwaite said...

Well then, I vow to NEVER let anyone look under my hood. Unless I'm well-oiled.

Little Lamb said...

How about you being well oiled and you trusting that person who looks under your hood?

Dan said...

It took me a while to get to this post ... my car broke down on the way.

carmen said...

pueri is very slippery...LL...

Little Lamb said...

Dan, go to a reliable mechanic.

Carmen, yes he is.

The Phosgene Kid said...

A reliable mechanic? There was one??

Little Lamb said...

There should be, you just have to find him.

carmen said...

why don't you learn to repair your own car yourself?
why don't you attend special courses in car repair and maintenance?/
why do you rely on reliable mechanics all the time ?

BE YOUR OWN MECHANIC!!!!

hahahahahahaaahahahahhha

Little Lamb said...

CArmen, Now there's a thought.

carmen said...

now, LL, see how evil i can be???


ooohhooouuuuiiiuuuuooooooaaaaaa

Little Lamb said...

No Carmen.

carmen said...

oh, yes, LL.
i want to be evil today...

Little Lamb said...

Oh Carmen, what am I to do with you? You evil one you.

carmen said...

boooooooooooooooo !!LL


( tomorrow i am good!!)LL

Little Lamb said...

We'll see Carmen.

Hammer said...

Great tips. I've had many of these happen to me and I know a lot about cars. I'm just too trusting.

Little Lamb said...

Thanks. That's my biggest problem too, too trusting.

W2E said...

Hello and glad to find your blog. Here’s a relevant article related to car repairs that I wrote a while ago – I thought it might be a good read on your blog as well:

If you are experiencing problems with your car, it is highly recommended to take it to a specialist. This article speaks about some basic information about car parts. If somehow you think you are good at fixing cars, just take a look and write down the parts you need to replace or simply repair. For those who don't know too many things about what's inside the car's engine, here is some basic information.

The spark plug wires have very important tasks inside the whole car system as these wires are carrying about 50.000 volts a second under a high temperature. This car part plays a crucial role because it harnesses thousands of volts and brings this juice to the spark plugs. Choosing for a high quality spark plug wire is very important because this way you are not wasting energy. The spark plug wire has to be replaced from time to time, otherwise it gets poor and can cause engine misfiring.

It is also recommended that you check the brakes regularly. Many specialists agree that heat treated brakes are very efficient as they resist better to fade and warping. Industry analysts are advising car owners to equip their vehicles with anti lock brakes. These breaks are considered to be lifesavers because they keep the car under control even under rough driving conditions. In order to maintain the brakes' highest performance you have to pay great attention to a proper periodic maintenance.

Belt and hose replacement are also needed to perform every once in a while. Those are rubber parts and contact with oil and high degrees temperature is imminent. In order to prevent premature damages it is recommended to treat the hose with spray silicone or any other rubber protector. You will also need to do a slippery treatment of the belt, which will prevent the gripping of the pulleys. Even with a periodic maintenance these car parts will fail because of the high temperature exposure. Specialists indicate a periodically inspection of these car parts in order to avoid the damage of the engine itself.

Proper fuel systems and air intake are also very important car parts that help the car gaining horsepower and torque. High quality fuel injectors and pumps are best for your car and if replaced from time to time will improve the ignition control performance and the horsepower as well. Your car will get an excellent throttle response making it easier to drive and to control.

A periodically battery inspection is also welcomed because if the battery is corroded you will encounter difficulties in starting the car or while driving in cold weather. It is recommended to keep the battery's surface clean in order to prevent a quickly discharging of the battery. For a best maintenance it is recommended that you cover the metal parts with grease to prevent corrosion. In order to recharge the battery, connect and disconnect the leads to the battery. It is forbidden to smoke or cause sparks during battery charging.

For more resources on car parts and car repair, here are some random manufacturers and models: Mazda parts and accessories, used Honda parts, Bentley performance parts, Audi parts and accessories, Acura parts and accessories, Buy Chevrolet spare parts, Porsche parts and accessories and Lamborghini accessories.

Regards,

Michael S.

Mercedes Parts blog said...

It would be really an advantage if car owners knows the basics in car maintenance. This way, he/she knows what to do and what to look for. One of the common car problem is when car won't start. Here are some possible causes: No fuel pressure. it might be bad fuel pump relay. Can you hear the pump running? or no ignition spark, - it could be a bad coil. DME problem or bad mercedes rotor arm. try also looking at dirty connections, clean everything. Hope it does help. :) By the way, great blog.