As drivers, we naturally care about our cars, and want to make sure they're in good working condition. But it's hard not to feel doubtful when you bring your ride to the mechanic for a routine check and they recommend repairs and add-ons that run up to hundreds of dollars. Your mechanic may be a professional who's just doing his job, but he may also be taking advantage of your lack of expertise. When you don't have as much experience as your mechanic, how do you know if you're being cheated? Here are 5 signs you should look out for to know if your mechanic is really cheating you.
1. Scare Tactics
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If your mechanic senses that you're hesitant to follow his suggestions, he may try to use scare tactics to convince you. Be careful of mechanics that over-exaggerate, especially if they hint that your car cannot be driven safely again until they fix it. This is often a trick to frighten you so that you'll feel like you have no choice but to get your car fixed on the spot. Some mechanics may even imply that you're endangering your life and your family by continuing to drive your car as it is. Don't fall for this kind of emotional blackmail! If there really are serious problems with your car, your mechanic should be able to tell you what they are in a professional way, instead of scaring you with vague, extreme statements.
2. Refusing to Show your Old Parts
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It's a good practice to ask to see your old parts whenever you get repairs or replacements. This will assure you that the mechanic really did replace the part, and he can show you exactly where its problems are. If your mechanic cannot show you your old parts, that's pretty suspicious. It might mean that he lied about the condition of the part and doesn't want you to see it, or even worse, that he didn't replace it at all and just charged you for nothing. If you're having doubts about your mechanic's recommendations, asking for the old parts is one way to test his honesty. You can even take them to other experts for a second opinion.
3. Bad Explanations
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A good mechanic should not only be able to identify your car's issues, but to explain them to you clearly. If there's any part of your mechanic's explanation that you're unsure of, don't be afraid to ask for clarification in more layman terms. If he is unable to explain your repairs to you, or keeps using technical jargon even after you've told him you don't understand, it's a bad sign. Don't be intimidated by phrases like "You wouldn't understand this" or "This is too complicated for you"—you have the right to know exactly what the mechanic is doing with your car. Constant bad or vague explanations might be a sign that your mechanic is not skilled/experienced enough at his job, or that he's trying to hide something from you.
4. Impossibly Good Deals
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There's a reason people say: if it's too good to be true, it probably is. Mechanics need to make profits like everyone else, and there's a certain amount they have to charge to keep their business afloat. If your mechanic keeps offering impossibly low prices, while promising brand-name products, there's a chance that something fishy is going on. Some mechanics offer replacements for certain parts at rock-bottom prices to lure you in, and then while replacing, they "diagnose" other problems with even more expensive parts to persuade you into getting pricey repairs you don't really need. Be on your guard when you see a ridiculously good bargain—no business offers services at a loss unless they plan to make the money back in other ways.
5. Mismatch with Owner's Manual
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Many drivers ignore the owner's manual—it's boring and takes a long time to read through. But even just skimming it can give you a lot of useful information that you can use to protect yourself from scams. Your driver's manual will tell you how often the car needs to be serviced, and when you should change the various parts. If your mechanic wants to do servicing or replacements sooner than the manual recommends, he could be trying to make a quick buck. Acquiring the right basic knowledge yourself is a good way to know whether your mechanic is being honest with you.
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