SCAM AUTO REPAIRS? -- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Car repair complaints are the largest group of consumer grievances. It is all too simple for unethical mechanics and sham repair shops to convince you that unneeded repairs are necessary. Most of us know little or nothing about the mechanical workings of our automobiles. Often we have no idea we are ripped off.

Here are a few common auto repair scams:

Highway Scammers

These guys operate service stations on highways. They scam you when you stop in for gas and water. Unscrupulous as they are, they will spray oil under your car and then inform you that you have a serious oil leak. They will even puncture tires, cut water hoses and fan belts so you’ll be stuck and have to buy new ones. These con-people prey on you, the auto-traveler who is now alarmed that you will face serious danger if you chose to “drive-off” without making the allegedly required repairs. These scammers will attempt any rouse to steal your cash for unneeded repairs offered at inflated prices. If you sense you are in a possible scam service station, get out of your auto and watch closely everything the attendant does, even washing your windows!

Repair Estimate Schemes

If you don’t get a signed and detailed Estimate BEFORE work begins, and you leave your car with these unethical con-men, you will suffer the consequences when you try to pick it up. Never sign an Estimate without making sure all blanks are filled in. Without a written Estimate in your hand, these fraudster repair shops will not give you your car back until you pay for their list of repairs that they claim were “necessary” and added to your bill.

Intentional Misrepresentation of Repair Needs

Deception looms in today’s auto repair market. Be careful dealing with glib explanations of what these guys say is wrong with your car. FYI, get a second and even third opinion, and try to use an authorized service shop supported by an auto manufacturer.

Part Replacement Problems

Dishonest mechanics will, if you’re not careful, charge you for parts and labor that are non-existent. Also, these rip-off shops will charge you for a new part and install a sub-standard, or used car part.

Counterfeit Parts

When shyster auto repair shops install a counterfeit part into your car, this can spell danger for you and your family as counterfeit parts are usually inferior and will fail. Watch what they are doing and take some photos. This may scare the shop into quitting or encourage the proper job. Ask, watch and be vigilant.

Bait and Switch Scams

Lookout for auto scams as advertised. If it’s too good to be true, it is. These phony advertisements will lure you into the shop, then be careful-- the job and charges will mushroom. Usually the work is shoddy and these scammers will use counterfeit and used parts as well as concoct work that is either unnecessary or not done at all.


1. Get written estimates before you OK repairs.

2. Get several Estimates

3. Perform a background check on the repair shop

4. Don’t get conned/lured into unnecessary repairs

5. Get written repair guarantees

6. Be sure the shop employs “Certified Auto Mechanics”

7. Be sure the repair shops honors all existing warrantees on your auto

8. If the repair shop is messy and unprofessional---walk away

The best car repair references are friends, neighbors, and accredited auto dealers who sell the make of your automobile. Remember, do not get hooked into these scammers, it will be costly and even dangerous. Keep in mind, your car should be properly maintained for you and your family’s safety.

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