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5 Scams and Secrets Your Car Mechanic Doesn’t Want You to Know


1. Recommending Services You Don’t Need 

A shop charges or recommens an unnecessary part that your vehicle doesn’t need. For example, you may have had your windshield wipers replaced two weeks ago, yet your mechanic says you need new wipers.

That’s why it is necessary to research your vehicle and find an honest mechanic that will help you fix the vehicle and not overcharge.

2. Being Overcharged For the Job

One example is when the engine needs to be restored, and they need to open the engine. Mechanic finds out that the timing belt also needs to be replaced.

Then when you ask how much will the cost be. The mechanic wants to charge you with the engine rebuilt plus its labor and the timing belt replacement plus labor.

You should only be paying for the engine rebuilt plus its labor and the timing belt replacement without its labor. 

3. Lifetime Transmission Fluid

The manufacturer may state transmission fluid will last a lifetime. 

This is a common issue on why your transmission doesn’t last forever. Never changing the transmission fluid will make the lifespan of your transmission shorter. Transmission fluid doe not last forever and over a long period transmission fluid becomes dirty and loses its properties.

Dirty fluid can destroy an automatic transmission and will cost you a lot to replace. It's better to change the transmission fluid every 60,000 miles. Changing transmission fluid every four or five years will make the transmission last a "lifetime". 

4. Service Interval

Auto dealerships quote a high price for vehicle maintenance, they take advantage of the people that have less knowledge or are first-timers in the maintenance of their vehicle. 

If you prefer taking the vehicle to the dealership for service and more than one dealership is close to you, call and get quotes from all dealerships. New car dealerships are franchises and set their own prices. Therefore the repair costs, while close, are not always identical between two or more dealerships. 

5. It Doesn't Take As Long to Complete the Repair

Shops charge standard rates to complete certain tasks on a vehicle but in reality, it doesn't take that long to complete the repair or diagnostics. 

Take the example of the check engine light coming on. You get charged for one hour of labor, but in most cases, an experienced mechanic only needs 15 minutes to read the codes with an OBD-II scanner and find out what is wrong with the car. 


1. Expensive Additives for the Vehicle 

If your vehicle is over five years old and burning a lot of the fuel, then additives may help you a little bit. For example, running Chevron Complete Fuel Additive through the fuel tank can clean the injectors and remove carbon buildup. 

On newer modern vehicles, you will just waste a lot of money on buying additives for your vehicle. It's unlikely that you have excessive carbon buildup or clogged injectors on a newer vehicle. 

Because a lot of time the mechanic will say you need to buy some of this but your vehicle doesn’t need it and you're just wasting money if you buy them. Take note that you can always change the oil by yourself to keep your engine clean and healthy.  

2. Getting Charged for Things Your Mechanic Broke

We see this issue every single day. A customer takes the car to the mechanic for one repair and the next thing something else breaks while the car is in the shop. The customer gets a call from the shop that another part needs to be replaced as well.

In some cases, the vehicle is driven into the shop, and due to a problem caused by the mechanic, the vehicle may no longer start or be driven. 

Unfortunately, no mechanic wants to admit to their boss or the customer that they broke something, so you are told that the problem was there before the car came into the shop. Some shops will go as far as to state that they can't let you take the car out of the shop because it is unsafe. 

3. Maintenance Required Light

When going to the dealership without any knowledge, they can easily take advantage of you. A dishonest mechanic may tell you that you must replace your brakes, change oil, and replace air filters, wipers and rotors, but the maintenance reminder light can be reset once the oil has been changed.

Ask the mechanic to measure brake pads and rotors and inspect the filters to confirm that they need replacement and show that to you.

To prevent this scam, do a little research on your vehicle and learn how to do essential maintenance, and turn off the maintenance reminder light by yourself. If you don’t have a lot of tools, do some research and tell your mechanic that you only need an oil change from the mechanic.

4. Check Engine Light

The scams happen when the check engine light is on, and other lights pop off on your cluster, just like some Toyota’s when the check engine light is on the traction control, and ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) automatically comes off.

So you’ll see plenty of lights on your cluster, but the only thing to do is repair what's causing the check engine light. Then the mechanic will say they will need to repair the check engine light, traction control, and the ABS which will cost you a lot.

5. Car Batteries

Modern batteries are filled with acids then from time to time, they start to deteriorate. Then when they are displayed, they lose a lot of their lifespan. Also, some batteries are being shipped and take a lot of time to be at their destination. So it is better to check the production date of the battery and try to get a less than one month old.

When it comes to basic vehicle maintenance, you can save a lot of money by doing the repair yourself. We have posted hundreds of guides to help you learn how to perform vehicle maintenance. 

Problems with the check engine light can be easily diagnosed with an OBD-II scanner, while most other warning light problems can be diagnosed with a full system scan.