Consumer complaints resulting from automotive repair scams
are rising. Although most auto repair
shops are honest, as the economy has worsened more mechanics have begun
engaging in shady practices in an effort to rake in more money.
Car Sales and Repair Scams
Crooks and scammers are some of the most creative people on
earth. Therefore, it would be impossible
to describe all the automotive repair scams that are being used to cheat honest
consumers out of their money. However,
some of the most common maintenance scams are described below.
- Repair Estimate Scams – This auto repair
ripoff scam typically occurs when the customer receives only a verbal cost
estimate when he drops his car off at the shop.
Once he returns to pick up his car, the final cost is significantly
higher than the verbal estimate he originally received. The best way to avoid this auto repair scam
is to always request a written estimate and instruct the service department not
to make any repairs other than those you've discussed without first contacting
- Misrepresentation – Intentional
misrepresentation of what repairs are needed is one of the most common
automotive repair scams. Unethical
mechanics are able to get away with misrepresenting what problems a car has
because most people have very little automotive knowledge.
- Preventative Maintenance Checkups – Some
shady repair shops offer preventative maintenance check-ups at what appear to
be reasonable rates. Customers pay for these check-ups in advance and typically
the mechanic will intentionally damage a vehicle to increase the customer's repair bill.
- Replacement Parts and Counterfeit Parts Scams
– Another common maintenance scam used by mechanics to cheat their customers is
the replacement parts scam. This scam
involves charging the customer for parts that were not used. The counterfeit parts scam involves using
cheap, knock off parts rather than quality parts and charging the customer as
though quality parts where used.
- Bait and Switch – In the auto repair industry, the bait and
switch scam usually involves an offer of a specific repair job at a great
price. Once the mechanic has your car,
he notifies you that he's discovered several other very costly repairs that
must be done in order to ensure that your vehicle is safe. These additional problems are usually
non-existent, but the mechanics uses your fear and guilt over not adequately
maintaining your car as leverage to get you to agree to the additional repairs.
If you have been the victim of an auto repair rip-off,
you should contact a consumer protection attorney who will evaluate your case
and advise you as to your legal options.
Be prepared to provide your attorney with receipts, photos, and any
other documentation you have which supports your case. You can also file a complaint with the Better
Business Bureau or the Office of the Attorney General in your state.