15 Mechanics Dish on the Easiest Ways to Take Advantage of the Non-Car Savvy Among Us

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Most people aren’t experts at everything – that’s why we take our cars to mechanics when they’re not working right (or for routine maintenance or a checkup).

That said, mechanics have a reputation for taking advantage of people who have zero clue how their cars work or what they need.

If that’s you, the 15 mechanics below have some tips on how you can root out the bad seeds looking to charge you double for something you didn’t need in the first place.

#15. Not even the right shape/size.

Write something on your air filter.

It’s one of the more common money-making scams at Jiffy-Lube type places.

They’ll walk in with a filthy air filter and claim it’s yours. Bonus points for recognizing that it’s not even the right shape or size.

I always mark my air filters (and oil filters, and belts, and houses) with the month/year and mileage when I replace them.

#14. He can show you.

A good mechanic can SHOW you what’s wrong with the car.

Have a little knowledge going in.

Have a mechanic friend.

Ask around to see who is good. Get multiple quotes.

#13. Honesty goes a long way.

for me the sign of a good mechanic is if he says stuff like:

part X is on its way out, If you hear this or feel that, you should come by.


Yeah, … i can replace this and that… but personally i wouldn’t do it on a car this old


i checked your brakes like you asked. they are still good for at least another 15k.

The best way to truly save on maintenance: learn how that thing works, what quirck translates in what part. make sure you have an opinion on how you feel about just replacing parts before they break. and find someone who is willing to use parts you buy of ebay. ->while it can be good for some, as a general rule better keep to reputed online shops, to be sure you buy parts with acceptable quality.

#12. Get a second opinion.

I’ve read a lot of stuff on here. You’re car may be working just fine but still have problems you won’t notice until they become severe. Maybe your tie rod end is starting to have play or your brake pads have gotten down low enough to call for needing to replace before they’ve dug down into the rotor.

The two best things you can do are ask to be shown the issues (any good mechanic or shop will take you out to the car and show you the issue) or just get a second opinion at another shop.

#11. Download a schoolbook.

Get car fluent! Download a schoolbook aimed for entry level students and read a bit.

Other than that stay with your car and ask the mechanic/shop if it’s OK that you stay with the car. If something is wrong he’ll tell and show you. When I worked for a dealership I had no problem with folks staying near the lift as long as they weren’t in my way and not under the lift itself. I did nothing to wrong them and If there was a problem we could have a look at it together and they would know we weren’t trying to fuck them on the bill.

Most dealerships will take a problem to you staying with the car for safety concerns and this is valid, doesn’t mean they’re up to no good.

Also don’t go to a dealership would be my advice. Go to a local independent if your car is out of warranty.
Read the shop manual regarding your service schedule and you’ll know what to expect when you go in for your service.

Don’t be afraid to ask some questions, most of us don’t mind and are more than willing to answer questions.

Just don’t be that guy that’s asking the entire time.

#10. Ask for the broken originals.

Ask for a call before any repairs are done. Ask for a price up front.

Any replacement parts, ask for the broken originals. If they can’t pull it from the trash, they didn’t even change it. Say you’re interested as a layman (which you should be, it’s your car after all)

#9. Public forums are a good way to combat bad mechanics.

Join your local area’s buy sell trade group on FB ask for good mechanics, people hate douches so public forums are a good way to combat bad mechanics nobody likes to get fucked by them and that makes people less likely to recommend.

#8. I’ll probably go there forever.

I’ve been going to the same Garage since I was 18 with my mom’s car (30 now with my own car)

Although this probably doesn’t mean anything, I’ve always trusted them because it’s been the same 5 or so guys for years.

Every issues they’ve ever found with my car is preventative-maintenance stuff (Looks like your tires need to be rotated, its been a few oil changes since/your oil is low can we top it off?) And they’ve NEVER pressured me into getting something done to the car, they just note it and tell me about it.

I’ll probably go there forever. It’s been 10+ years and my car still runs great and they tell me my car is still in great condition. So… the fact they don’t have much turnover tells me the owners don’t pressure them for a sales goal, and pay them reasonably well because they all still work there and seem to care about fixing the cars they get.

#7. Avoid the quick lube places.

Like, what’s the best way to find a scammy mechanic? Go to a quick lube place that makes 100% of its profit from bullshit high pressure upsells. (folks: replace your coolant on the schedule in your owner’s manual, not whenever some methy teenager tries to scare you with a turkey baster with some shit floating in it).

The best way not to get ripped off by a real garage? Have a little bit of knowledge going in. You don’t have to actually fix anything yourself. But google your symptoms (ie, “1996 Accord squeaks when turning left” or “2004 Highlander battery keeps dying”) to get a probable diagnosis. Then take 15 minutes to watch the Youtube of the repair, just so you have an idea of what’s about to go down.

That way, you can get a firmer estimate. If you just bring the car in with some vague symptoms, an honest mechanic won’t be able to give you an estimate. But if you bring it in and ask, “how much to replace the alternator?”, there’s literally a list that says how many hours of labor that’s going to run, plus the cost of the part (which you should have already priced on Google, just to make sure you’re not getting ripped off)

Also, once you know what the repair involves, when the mechanic calls you up with some other issue they just happened to notice while doing the job, you’ll have a sense of whether it’s realistic or not. ie, if they say you need a new serpentine belt, that could be legit–they did have to remove the serpentine belt for this job (although you should always ask to see the old part).

But if they say, “we just got into your truck, and your intake manifold is all worn out,” you’ll already know that this job did not require pulling the manifold. It’s always possible that there’s some visible damage to a part that they happened to see, but extraordinary claims should require extraordinary evidence.

#6. They’ll tell you everything.

I was a former service writer for a couple years and one of the things I often hear people complain about is, the laundry list of items we found wrong with the vehicle. It gives the feeling that we are just trying to tack on every little thing that is wrong with the vehicle to get as much money as we can.

And this is absolutely true to an extent. We’re a business trying to make money of course, but the main reason we list all of those items is actually from a liability and service standpoint. When you bring your vehicle in for service, we are doing our service by telling you every thing we see. If we neglect to tell you about something, and it causes an issue down the line, you may view us as liable/incompetent for not noticing it.

This certainly is not full proof to tell if you are being scammed, but a good mechanic/service write will tell you everything they find wrong with your car, THEN recommend/explain what you should get done.

#5. Ask for recommendations.

Definitely talk to other folks in your are for recommendations. I found my fave garage that way. Took our 96 van to them because it was running rough and the dealer wanted $$$ to just look at it.

The owner listened to it for a minute. Pulled the engine cover. Reached in. Pushed the loose spark plug wire back on and crimped it a bit harder with a pair of pliers. Started it up and it ran perfectly.

“No charge”.

Customer for life!

#4. Loyalty – and sweets – go a long way.

Worked as a mechanic for 22 years

Try and stick to the same garage, loyalty goes a long way, a packet of sweets or cakes goes a long way. Tell them you are on a budget. Remember a quote is just a quote more than likely it will cost you a little more, ask for a worse case scenario.
Always get an invoice and never pay cash. You could ask for the old parts back but some are exchange. Never go to a garage that advertiser’s, word of mouth is best for of advertising.

#3. Mark your parts.

My father always marked the parts which had to be replaced with a UV marker to make sure they were replaced

#2. They’re probably lying.

If they say you’re low on blinker fluid, they’re probably lying.

#1. No reason to inflate problems.

Google your local nhs ambulance trust or local authority, they offer fairly cheap mot and vehicle health checks but not repairs, so no reason to inflate problems or fabricate a work list.

I’m sure there will be an equivalent in the US and elsewhere.

Being a woman, this list is gold! Thank you Reddit!

Did you learn anything new from this list?

Let us know in the comments!