Have you ever wondered whether your mechanic is ripping you off? Most people do from time to time, but few have the mechanical knowledge to know for sure. For those of us who can’t tell the one set of car parts from another, it can be difficult to assess whether a mechanic is trustworthy and not adding extra dollars to your repair invoice in the hopes you won’t notice.
All auto repair shops seem to say they're competent, well-trained and have the state-of-the-art technology to do a great job fixing your car, so it can be quite a feat trying to work out who does what they say they do.
However, there are some red flags when it comes to determining whether you can trust what your mechanic is telling you. Here’s our guide to knowing if you can't trust them:
A dodgy mechanic won’t bother explaining what’s wrong with your car in detail. You might want to consider alternative options if your car guy (or gal) doesn't take the extra time to explain what they're going to fix and why. You want someone who can point out, in layperson's terms if possible, what's going on with your car, what your repair options are and how much the work's likely to cost before they lift a spanner.
Be suspicious if all your repairs are urgent, all the time. A good mechanic will be upfront about the repairs you need to have done now and what can wait a little longer. If they want a good, long lasting relationship with you, they'll suggest you keep to a maintenance schedule that allows you to plan financially and avoid costly large-scale repairs. A lousy mechanic wants to replace as many vehicle parts, as soon as possible, right now. If they're dialling up the drama on a regular basis to guilt you into costly repairs, you might be getting duped.
An iffy mechanic doesn’t have the right tools to fix your car. Today's vehicles are chock full of computer wizardry that requires special equipment to repair that often differs between car makers. Ask whether your mechanic has the right tools for your particular job – if they're equipped with a manufacturer-specific tool, you can probably breathe easy they have the wherewithal to keep your specific car in tip-top shape.
You keep having to drop your car back for a refix. Firstly, remember mechanics are only human – they sometimes make mistakes. The odd minor mishap now and then isn't great cause for concern. But if you always have to repair a car part that you've had fixed before, you might start to question your mechanic's expertise – at least for that particular service. A trustworthy mechanic won't try to fix something out of their wheelhouse – just as a GP wouldn't try to do brain surgery. They'll refer you on to a specialist instead of wasting your time and money.
A good relationship with your mechanic is essential – once you find the right one you’ll likely stick with them for years. And you’ll have added peace of mind knowing your car is safe to drive while getting the best deal possible.