How to dispute your mechanic bill

This article is by freelance writer Roger White and staff writer April Dykman. It originally appeared on Roger’s blog in a different format.


As many GRS readers know, last year I quit my job to become a full-time freelancer. The hardest thing about moving on was leaving coworkers like Roger White, a magazine editor and author of the funniest interoffice e-mails ever. Roger and I teamed up to bring you his story about a recent experience paying for an auto repair, along with tactical advice about how to dispute your mechanic bill.


Our little family was tooling along this year, struggling to stay within our monthly budget while juggling life’s big-ticket items—you know: braces, countless teenage daughter items, summer camp fees times number of children squared, etc., etc.—when the two most feared words in all of suburbia’s lexicon knocked us flat.

Car repair.

Funny thing is, it all started with just a broken brake light. I’m sitting in my wife’s car at a stop light, waiting to turn right, when a smiling woman pulls up next to me and says, “Hey, your right rear light is out. Better get it fixed, ’cause the cops will stop you for that.”

Instant adrenaline panic overdrive. The cops! Where?

Ever since I was a teenager, having a cop stop me for any reason has always struck fear deep in my heart, even when I was doing absolutely nothing wrong. Readers of a certain age will remember the CSNY lyric: “Like looking in my mirror and seeing a police car!”

So the wife and I promptly hightailed it over to our nearest franchise fix-it shop, thinking that a broken rear light costs, what, five bucks maybe?

Hah. The franchise fix-it shop guys saw us coming a mile away. I should have known. I can’t think of any other scenario where I feel so much like a life-sized walking all-day sucker than talking with the mechanic man. I’m thinking I’m not alone on this.

I believe that auto repair types begin sizing you up for the big squeeze the minute you walk in the door.

“Hello, sir, I see you and your wife have a Honda V6.”

“Uh, yes.”

“Does your model have the actuated re-inverter or self-regulating?”

“What?” Off guard, I blurt, “Actuated, I think. Really, we just need a brake light…”

“Uh oh. Actuated.”

(The other guy behind the counter sadly shakes his head at this point. The choreography is keen and well-executed, I must say.)

Still, I play along, because I don’t know enough about cars to bluff them, and they know that I don’t know. Furthermore, I know that they know I don’t know. You know?

Dang, I should have said self-regulating. We’re already off on the wrong foot.

“Well, it may be self-regulating, I’m not sure.”

“No, you said actuated.”

“Is that going to be a problem?” I ask.

“Depends. What are you in for?”

“Busted rear light.”


More head shaking. Some computer clacking, looking in reference manuals.

We left the car with the fix-it shop crew, said three quick Hail Marios to the Great Grease Gods, hoped and prayed for the best, and went about our day. I tried Googling “re-inverter,” but all I got was something about how to design a death-ray gun. When we got the call that the car was ready, we swallowed our gum, put on our all-day sucker heads, and made our way back to the garage. A different guy behind the counter gave us a bill that was a good 25% over the estimate. On the bill was a hefty item—I kid you not—that was labeled “service fee,” on top of labor, parts, tax, recycling charges, oil disposal fee, and all the rest.

My wife, always the braver of us, questioned this item, noting that the estimate was much less than the sum before us.

“This is way over what you said,” Sue said right out loud, turning all heads in the shop. I cringed. In a western movie, this was one of those moments where the piano player stopped playing and the saloon grew deathly silent. “What is this service charge?”

I expected another stern, condescending talking-to about how variable fluctuations in the world of auto parts derivatives combined with the situation in Libya, hourly swings in crude oil prices, and our particular vehicle’s unfortunate re-inverter configuration all coalesced in the time it took to repair our rear brake light to necessitate an additional service charge. But the guy looked at the bill, looked at my wife, and said, “Huh. Don’t know what that is. I’ll take it off.”

Booiiiinnng. That was the sound of my brain leaping out of my skull and bouncing on the floor. How many people, I wondered as I chased my brain across the floor, pay this “service charge” without a second thought?


Repairs are one of the costs that come with car ownership, but it sure is confusing when you don’t speak the lingo. When I go to the repair shop, I’m on the phone with my dad the whole time, repeating everything the mechanic says to my father, then repeating everything my dad says to the mechanic. I should just hand the mechanic my phone and cut myself out of the equation.

Like Roger, I probably wouldn’t dispute my bill, either. I know how anti-GRS that sounds, but I’m being honest. I hate making a scene, and I’m likely to assume it’s my own ignorance about cars that’s the problem, not the service charge.

Obviously, Sue is the one who’s got it right. If a charge looks wrong, you should ask about it. This doesn’t necessarily mean the shop is trying to cheat you — mechanics are human and they can make honest mistakes. How do you make sure you’re being billed fairly? I did some digging and found the following advice for those of us who aren’t so mechanically inclined:

  1. Check to see if your car is under warranty. If it is, you’ll need to take it to the dealer or an authorized repair facility.
  2. Find a good auto shop. Ask coworkers, friends, and neighbors where they take their vehicles for repairs. Is the shop affiliated with AAA or does it have technicians certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)? Do you like the look of the place (clean, organized, etc.)?
  3. Ask for a written estimate before the work starts. It’s not uncommon for the actual bill to be 10-20% higher, or more if the mechanic finds that the problem is more complicated.
  4. Ask for the mechanic to review your bill with you. It might seem tedious, but it can save you money, as Roger found out. Mistakes happen all of the time. Compare the charges with your estimate.
  5. If you have a bad feeling about the work performed, dispute your bill carefully. If you can’t find a resolution, ask for the old parts (should you need evidence) and take your dispute, in writing, through the chain of command. If necessary, you might turn to the Better Business Bureau or, as a last resort, legal action.

Finally, if you’re happy with the service you receive, become a regular, preferably at a local body shop. From

“The one-on-one relationship between driver and mechanic that smaller repair shops foster can really help consumers have confidence in both the work that’s performed and in the vehicle itself. Local mechanics are more willing to help you understand how your car performs and what it needs. You can ask to look under the hood or the chassis with your local mechanic, and perhaps learn something about what goes where or why a service needs to be performed.”

In other words, you might feel a little less clueless each time you bring in your car.

Sources: AA1Car, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Edmunds


Meanwhile, back at the franchise fix-it shop…

“By the way,” says the mechanic, “you need new struts. They’re bleeding onto your brakes. That’s about $600 without tax.”

Flush with new confidence instilled by wifey, I took my turn. “Oh, no you don’t. I know how you guys operate. Struts. No such thing as struts, I bet.”

I got some looks of approval from some of the other guy customers as we walked out of the shop. I think they were looks of approval, anyway. I had a bit of difficulty getting my all-day sucker-head in the car, but we drove away with a bit of salvaged pride. Struts, indeed.

“Hey, what’s that noise, hon?”

Readers, got any tips or stories of your own to share? Leave them in the comments!

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There are 140 comments to "How to dispute your mechanic bill".

  1. harold says 09 June 2011 at 04:20

    I cant work out whether or not the part about the struts at the end is tongue in cheek or not, struts being part of the suspention & oil filled with a tendancy to leak when they are shot 😛

    Another Idea would be to look for second opinions on the expencive jobs (second quote wont hurt either)

    • April Dykman says 09 June 2011 at 06:17

      Ha, yes, the struts part is tongue-in-cheek. Good idea about the second estimate!

      • Andrea says 19 December 2012 at 10:28

        I had the same problem with my car. I took it to Big O’s (now a privately owned busines) in my hometown to get a second opinion. The Manager came out and looked at my car and told me the struts needed replaced. he also told me that struts need replacement every 50,000 miles and that mine have not yet been replac3ed..He also stated that they could start leaking and damage my car.I told him that I kept hearing a strange creaking noise every time I made a sharp left turn and if that would cause the problem..he told me it can. I believed him and paid over %500 to get my 2 front struts replaced. When I picked up my car, the manager told me they test drove the car and didn’t hear the noise anymore. The next day, I started to hear the noise very slightly. Then by the end of the week, it got worse than when I took it into the repair shop. I then went back and talked to a female worker. The Manager was not there Another guy test drove my car and heard the noise. She told me the struts could be defective. She told me to bring my car back the next day (when the manager was there) He was not there and she had another guy test drive my car. He then told her it was my CV Shaft that needed replaced and it would cost me $225. I told her “No”, that this is why I brought my car in the first time was for them to fix the noise when I turn. She then told me that my struts were leaking (which they never told me in the first place) i told her this really needed to be resolved. She started getting nasty with me and as I was leaving, she shouted to me Merry Christmas with a snide remark. As I was walking to my car, a female was parked next to me and she motioned me to her car. She overhead the conversation in the repair shop and told me that her husband could replace my CV shaft and said he was a mechanic. She also told me she heard the lady being very rude when I just wanted a resolution. As were were talking, the female worker came outside and told me to get off the property because I was disturbing her customers. The husband of the lady then came out of the shop and was asking me about where the noise was coming from. I was telling him and again the lady from the store came out and yelled for me to get off the property. The lady’s husband who offered to help me, told the lady “I’m talking to her”…We left the property and they went with me to order the part for my car. These people were very nice and helpful to me. I just wanted the repair shop to resolve the problem with me because I spent over $500 and they didn’t fix the problem. They are supposed to be certified, not me. A friend of mine then told me to take my car to a guy he knows that has a shop downtown. He drove with me in my car to hear the noise and he told me it sounded like my CV joint..I told him what the repair shop told me about replacing my struts every 50,000 miles. he told me that was incorrect! He told me you replace them only if they startleaking bad,..I feel I just got ripped off by this business..and now the Manager told me I am not welcome in the store anymore…

        • SLCCOM says 19 December 2012 at 12:05

          Three words: small claims court. ASAP! You don’t need a lawyer, and you can get the folks you talked to to testify, maybe.

        • Lee says 19 August 2013 at 07:11

          Actually what is RECOMENEDED is replacement due to age/wear. Yes they CAN start leaking but the actuall issues is every up and down movement of the strut/shock is wearing it out. Like tires rolling on road, they wear out.
          Now did they lie to you, not really but yes. What happened is they are CHANGING the wording to make it sound more dire. Struts/shocks that are worn can cause ill/bad handling, extended stopping distance and excellerated tire wear.
          Propper inspection and keeping careful tabs on the part in question is warranted. Also go to Monroe shocks, Gabriel shocks, ,KYB shocks websites and read up on WHY.
          UNLESs its broke and not moving go home, and review this issue with your model car, there are forums all over for them and you will also find people who canfind best deals too.
          Are they shady, eh maybe, are thasy selling incorrectly, ABSOLUTELY.
          Take this from a certified Master Technician.
          Good Luck.

      • Susan S says 09 October 2013 at 07:09

        I took my mom’s car in specifically to get chk-engine working.Told them chk-engine light would not come on and this was intermittent. That the car failed smog test and I need tags. Showed them ABS light was also on and wouldn’t go off. They said this was a completely different matter. Car was in shop 5 wrkg days, Finally said their diagnogstic indicated distributor, igniter & ignition coil had to be replaced at a cost of $985+diagnostic of $119, total around $1,100. They got OK to do this based on their word and that this would fix the chk-engine light problem. Then it would pass smog, could submit certificate to DMV and get Registration Tags.

        When we finally got the car, mom paid them with a check, (total of $850). Right after leaving this repair shop, took it to a certified smog shop. Car didn’t pass test because check-engine light would not come on. Went back to repair shop, they said it worked when they started it but saw it was not working now. Then they said the car needed a new computer.

        It seemed to me their diagnostic test was faulty. Mom was out over $800 and it still had the problem. So she stopped payment on check. What should we do now?

        • Michelle says 19 September 2019 at 09:45

          What did u do I’m going through the same thing right now $800 plus smog check. He wants money for the work he did but it still won’t pass smog and I’m out $900 and now he won’t work on it at all he’s had for almost 3 weeks I’m curious how u handled it after u paid

        • Bobby says 17 October 2019 at 13:54

          They replaced coil pack and distributor? Those are for two different ignition systems, your car has one or the other. If you have that in writing I’d sue. complete bs when they try taking advantage of uninformed. Future reference, most major autoparts stores will read codes for you and give you a print out. Just because the light is malfunctioning doesn’t mean the computer is.. Get that list and ask questions on any number of forums. People out there not looking to get your money and can give you decent advise.

  2. The Realist says 09 June 2011 at 04:34

    Find a shop you can trust. There are better options than going to a franchise shop. Second, I know it’s just a story but the whole “actuated reinverter” wouldn’t be necessary for the repair shop to ascertain your knowledge level of cars. If you’re going in for a broken tail light that’s enough information right there.

    Bottom line is most repair places are trustworthy. It’s worth it to ask around ahead of time and find a shop near you that people trust.

    • El Nerdo says 09 June 2011 at 08:51

      My local Firestone (a chain) is a pretty good shop. I like that they keep my records and I can get consistent service across the country. And if there’s a complaint (I had one with another shop out of town) you can escalate it with a regional manager. For the record, the problem wasn’t Firestone’s fault but the local parts dealer who sold them my new fuel pump with a huge markup. I had to eat the charges because it was an emergency repair outside of town. Now, about those dealers… curse them and their price gouging.

      The best way to know you’re getting a fair deal is to learn how your car works, of course.

      • Colleen says 09 June 2011 at 09:25

        Wanted to second the vote for Firestone. I know people usually knock chains, but I have consistently had good luck with them. I moved from Massachusetts to DC and in both areas they have been great about telling me what I could do regarding service and then telling me what I should do. Never once have I felt that they have tried to “up-sell” me or charge me for work that wasn’t done well or wasn’t necessary.

      • Claire says 09 June 2011 at 10:31

        I also trust my Firestone shop in Durham, NC. I’ve tried a few places in the area, and ended up not trusting something they say for one reason or another (I do know enough about cars to realize when someone’s full of BS).

        • Lindsay says 14 June 2011 at 04:29

          On the other hand, I’d avoid Meineke at all costs. I went in needing an oil change and they came back and quoted me $370 because I “also needed 8 new platinum spark plugs”. I looked at the guy and said, “First of all, I drive a Civic. I don’t need platinum anything. Second of all, I have a four-cylinder engine. What do you intend to do with the extra four plugs? That’s like telling me I need 8 new tires. Change my oil for the $30 you advertised and I’ll be leaving.”

    • Jack Foley says 10 June 2011 at 03:03

      What kills me is that u can get your mechanic to do work but always there is extras..

      this needs doing, etc, etc

      thats where they make their money..

    • Jack Foley says 13 June 2011 at 01:30

      I think its good also if you get referred and use that name when u go the mechanic..

  3. No Debt MBA says 09 June 2011 at 04:40

    I tend to take advantage of my friends who are car nuts and always have “project” cars. They can usually explain what’s wrong, give a ballpark for what it’ll cost to fix and recommend a shop or two. I then return the favor with beer and manual labor when their “project” needs help and learn a few things myself.

  4. Nicole says 09 June 2011 at 05:03

    And there’s always the cartalk guys. 🙂

    We actually use the mechanic in town that is known for having somewhat higher than average prices but never telling you that you need things you don’t, and fixing things correctly the first time, etc. Great yelp reviews and everybody you ask in town uses them, and some have horror stories about other places in town (like the Jiffy Lube). There’s a plumber in town who is similarly awesome. Other folks we’ve had to navigate our way through.

    Sadly… they can no longer do oil changes on our Civic Hybrid because when we were out of town, our battery needed to be replaced and the dealer out of town changed the shield on the bottom of the car, and our regular guys can no longer get in. 🙁

    Just asking is really important. It’s amazing how much money you can save if you do.

  5. Damsel says 09 June 2011 at 05:05

    I used to hate that I “had” to let my husband handle car stuff – my stupid ego got in the way of my good sense. The truth is that I just don’t know enough about cars, and he knows TONS. I’ve since realized that being married is fantastic in the arena of “divide and conquer”. He knows about car stuff, ergo, he takes care of car stuff, and I don’t have to worry about it!

    I do love that Roger’s wife questioned the service charge. I think I’d do the same, especially if it wasn’t part of the original estimate.

    The psychology of the situation is interesting… the reason why many people won’t debate something like the service charge is because they’re worried about what the person on the other side of counter thinks about them.

    In reality, though, who cares?!?!

    The worst that could happen is that they don’t remove the service charge, and I take my business elsewhere next time if I don’t like the way they treated me. That means that I’ll never see them again, so I don’t care what they think of me.

    If, however, they DO take it off, and I choose to come back, they’ll know that I’ll speak my mind and (hopefully) won’t try to yank my chain.

    Excellent article!!!

  6. Kevin says 09 June 2011 at 05:09

    One other piece of advice I’d add: If you’re having a part replaced, ask to see the old part.

    Some shops have been caught charging customers for replacing parts that they haven’t actually replaced. Ask to see the part they took out (and bonus points if you ask them to show you what’s wrong with it and why it had to be replaced in the first place).

    • Chadnudj says 09 June 2011 at 05:19

      Agreed. Before I found my current honest local mechanic, I actually went a step further — I didn’t just ask to SEE the broken/replaced part, I asked FOR the part itself upfront. That way, they couldn’t just show me the “broken pump” they kept to show customers who asked to see such things…they actually had to give me something.

      Most of the time, when they’d give it to me, I’d take it, then turn around and say “You know what, I thought I might have had some use for this, but go ahead and recycle it.”

    • Marsha says 09 June 2011 at 05:28

      I like it when a repair shop actually gives you the old part. If they do this for every part they replace, you have more assurance that the part came from your vehicle, and it’s not just something they show to everyone who had that part replaced.

      The best shops are always clear and fair on what the charges will be, and will call you before doing extra work over the estimate. They have to overcome the bad reputation that ripoff shops have given the whole industry.

      I once had a repair shop try to charge me with replacing a part that my car is not equipped with. After confronting them, they hastily agreed to significantly reduce the part of the bill that was legitimate, as an apology for their “error.” I never returned to that shop.

  7. Drew Dowdell says 09 June 2011 at 05:14

    Really… going to a repair shop to change a lightbulb? There are videos on Youtube on how to change just about anything on any model of car. There is a lot of stuff you can do at home, don’t be scared.

    • Dan says 09 June 2011 at 07:13

      That’s for certain. I’m clueless when it comes to cars, but I’ve figured out how to change my own bulbs (so simple it’s a crime to pay someone for it) and even the entire tail light assembly.

    • Trisha says 09 June 2011 at 07:53

      i have also found that most folks at the auto parts stores are very willing to help. they can tell you if you need to change the whole lamp or if a bulb is all you need.
      i have taught myself mechanical/plumbing/electrical/carpentry stuff because i will never pay someone to do the stuff i can do. educate yourself or expect to get scammed. you’d never do it with your money, why would you do it with your car???

    • Kevin M says 09 June 2011 at 09:14

      That’s the same thing I thought. If you can replace a household light bulb, you can replace a bulb (brake/headlight/whatever) in a car. Just go into any auto parts store, tell them the make/model of car and they’ll even find it for you at no charge.

      • Amanda says 09 June 2011 at 11:01

        There are you tube videos of how to fix many little car things too!

      • Lyn says 09 June 2011 at 12:11

        Heck, I’ve come across a couple parts stores where employees will actually walk out to the parking lot and replace the lightbulb – or battery – for you! Free!

        • Donna Freedman says 09 June 2011 at 13:29

          Ditto on the light-bulb moment. It’s generally a fairly simple process. If you do it right there at the auto-parts place, they might lend you a screwdriver or, as someone else noted, an employee to come out and help you with it. Takes 5 minutes of the guy’s day, but it makes you a customer for life.
          I wouldn’t go so far as to say you can fix ANYTHING on your car with help from the Internet. If you foul up, it might mess with the remaining time (if any) in the warranty. It might also mess with your ability to drive to work on Monday.
          Too, some people are nervous about going under their cars. Others don’t have an actual place to do it; for example, HOA rules might disallow doing auto work in your driveway, and not everyone has a garage.
          There are some things I simply don’t want to do. Basic auto stuff, e.g. bulbs and battery, sure. Re-doing the brakes? I leave that to a professional. I won’t drill my own teeth, either.

        • Jack Foley says 10 June 2011 at 07:34

          Any idea how much it costs to change wipers?

      • cindy says 10 June 2011 at 12:53

        Sorry, I couldn’t reply directly to the wipers guy below – Windshield wipers are very simple to repair, you can get middle of the line ones at an auto repair shop for about $15 a piece (when they’re not on sale), and the instructions are usually right on the box. Check your instruction manual for your car too, and it will tell you what type to buy. Easy peasy, even a 18 yr old girl can do it 🙂 My dad made sure I knew simple car repairs before I went off to college and that knowledge has paid for itself many times over.

        • AsherMaximum says 12 June 2011 at 11:24

          I usually refer people who don’t know how to do stuff like windshield wipers and batteries to Advance Auto, as they actually advertise that they will do that for free (on most cars)

    • theseven says 09 June 2011 at 12:15

      Yea, I’m actually surprised these places are still in business. Unless you need specialized tools, you can fix just about anything on your car with the help of the internet- both to find the best/least expensive parts, and to learn how to do things. I’ve saved thousands of dollars on car repairs in the past two years by having my boyfriend, who had never done a single thing to a car before then, do repairs for me. Simply by learning it online.

    • Kaytee says 10 June 2011 at 06:16

      Actually, replacing a bulb is not always as easy as it sounds. The first time one of my headlight went, neither my husband nor I could figure out how to change the gd thing. It was nothing like the cars either of us had previously owned. We ended up taking it to the shop and asking them to show us how when I got my oil changed. (Per our rental lease, we are not allowed to work on our cars in the apartment parking lot.) It turns out that you have to take out the air filter and pull the headlight assembly out to change the bulb. It’s a different process for the other headlight too. It’s ridiculously inconvient!

    • Tom says 10 June 2011 at 07:58

      I had a heck of a time replacing a light bulb on a 95 Taurus, and spent an afternoon replacing the entire housing of the tailight on my Eagle Talon (don’t remember the year, 99 maybe)
      It has gotten considerably easier with my 2009 Focus. I did find out though, if a taillight burns out during bumper-to-bumper warranty, that the shop replaces it for free, saving me a couple bucks at pep boys.

      • AsherMaximum says 12 June 2011 at 11:26

        Whenever I buy a car, the first thing i buy for it is a “Haynes” manual. The internet is great for a lot of things, but for just showing you how things come apart and where they go, it’s the best.

  8. Erin says 09 June 2011 at 05:37

    I don’t mind questioning a bill because who else is going to care enough about my money? NO ONE! Recently, I had to spar over a medical bill and I saved myself $150. That’s $150 back in my pocket, where it belongs.

    I honestly don’t understand why people don’t question more of their bills/services. For example, my internet company decided to hike my bill without giving me warning. I called them up and said I’d only pay the same price I had been paying the past 2 years. There’s no need to be mean or rude about it, but stand up for yourselves and your money!

    • Dan says 09 June 2011 at 07:19

      “Nobody cares about your money more than you do.” Everybody else cares about my money too. They just care about how to take more of it from me 😉

    • AC says 09 June 2011 at 09:42

      I think that is one of the main gripes about our health-care system. No one knows what all these unnecessary steps costs them and their insurance.

      • Zina says 12 August 2015 at 11:53

        Insurance companies are behind the unnecessary steps because they make more profit from them. They make profit off the inefficiency that is stressing out and bankrupting American families. It doesn’t help that providers all think they are entitled to be millionaires so their practices have become ruthless for profit machines and the two (providers and insurance companies) with their competing interests trap patients between them. It’s bad medicine, bad healthcare delivery, period. Insurance companies, though, exist to take our money and give only part of it to our medical providers, making them nothing but parasites we’ve all been bamboozled into turning our healthcare system over to.

  9. Lindsay S says 09 June 2011 at 05:41

    What’s worse than not knowing and getting f***ed, is knowing exactly what is wrong and having the mechanic try to convince you that you don’t know what you’re talking about. As a minority woman, I went (alone) to a shop to get an axel repaired…I knew exactly what part I needed and how long it should have taken to put it in. Why did the guy at the counter and I get into a tiff over whether or not my car was a 4 or 6 cylinder (it was 6, he insisted I was wrong). They already had my car and were supposedly looking at the “problem” to diagnosis for me…despite the fact that I told them what the problem was. So, after the tiff I thought, I don’t have to get service here, they don’t even respect me! I asked for my car back…they took an hour to get it back to me. I commenced to tell everyone I knew to never go there!
    I ended up finding a mechanic a couple of towns away that understood that I knew what I was talking about…they fixed it and charged a minimal installation fee…I ended up taking my car there for everything from that point forward.

    • dee says 13 June 2011 at 03:59

      Yeah, You know all about your “axel”. That’s why you can’t spell it?


      To be fair, if anybody male, female or transgender came into my shop, I would still confirm the problem /cause before I carried out any work. Especially if they said “the axel is broke….” You would be coming in on a tow truck.

      I believe that the biggest issue in a lot of the cases above is an over exaggerated sense of ones own ability. Who would the customer blame if they replaced the part they were “told to” and the problem was not fixed?

      If people know whats wrong, know what parts they need, and know how to fix it, why are you taking it to a shop?

      Because of rules, regs, and past experience, most shops are NOT going to take the word of a customer that they have not built up a good history with. Because they WILL get burned.

      Vehicle repair follows the same process each and every time;


      Yes there are scam artists, yes, they deserve to be exposed, but people need to find a trustworthy shop, and have confidence in them.
      As stated, clarifying something is ok, and a decent shop would be cool with that.

  10. Brett says 09 June 2011 at 05:54

    This article supports my belief, that unless you are making enough money to throw it away on car repairs, everyone needs to have a basic understanding of automotive repair. Understand how to change the oil and all your exterior lights. Know how to change a tire. You’ll save yourself at least 10000 over lifetime, I can guarantee it.

    I actually use a franchise shop because it’s within walking distance of my home and have built a good reputation with the manager. He knows not to f*** me over because I recommend his shop to my coworkers; he better remain an honest SOB.

    To learn more about cars, find good local mechanics and learn how to do simple repairs yourself, check out It is a wealth of information. And find a garage you like and stick to them. When you bring the car in for the first time (new to the area, needed a new mechanic, or just got a new car), explain you want to be a repeat customer and it benefits them to treat you with respect.

    If a mechanic says something needs to be replaced, ask to see the part. Then have them show you the replacement part. This can be tricky though because sometimes they use an old beat up part they keep lying around as the example of ‘your’ part needing replacement.

    I could write a whole blog about how not to let the mechanic screw you over.

    • Dan says 09 June 2011 at 07:24

      “You’ll save $10k over its lifetime.” I’m not sure about that. In the ten years I’ve had my car, I think I’ve spent half of that on repairs and routine servicing. Assuming I had the tools and knowledge to do those jobs myself, I’d probably only save the labor charges — maybe a couple of grand.

      • Spider-mike says 09 June 2011 at 07:30

        Okay and multiply that over the course of your life and you get aleast 10k, much more if you have a wife and kid with a car.

      • Ian says 09 June 2011 at 10:10

        The labor is the killer. My BMW has a know issue that’s internal to the engine. It’s a $100 part, but 10 hours of labor. I’ll do it myself when it goes, and save about $1200.

        Most shops charge $100 to $120 per hour. Doing small repairs yourself will save a ton.

  11. Tim says 09 June 2011 at 06:04

    I had an issue with the remote start in my car, so I call the dealer and they advise me to bring the car in and all the remotes. I should have tried the basics first, but in the end, it turned out to be a dead battery in one of the remotes.

    They wanted to charge me $5 for the battery (which I’m OK with) and $60 for “installation”. I challenged it, and challenged it to the tech’s manager who tried to argue that his technician had to troubleshoot the issue and that takes time. I can understand that, but $60 to change a battery the size of a AA battery is just criminal. I wound up paying for the battery, and learning a good “do some research” lesson along the way!

    • Dan says 09 June 2011 at 07:27

      If they truly charged you $60 for “installation” I’d be pissed. If he really wanted to charge for his mechanic’s time, he should have charged you a diagnostic fee, which isn’t unreasonable.

      The NTB by my apartment charges $20 just to look at something, and you’re stuck with that charge no matter what. Dealers will charge you more, but if you decide to get the work done with them, they will apply it as a credit to the work.

    • Kevin says 09 June 2011 at 08:25

      Surely you’ve heard the parable of the retired GE engineer? This is exactly analogous to your situation.

      One day in the early days of computing, General Electric had a problem with their computer. All of their engineers took a look at the problem. Although each was wise, they were unable to understand the complexity of the machinery and repair the error. A call was made to the retired engineer who had helped in the original set up of the machine.

      The retired engineer walked around the machine for a few minutes, just looking it over, not touching anything. After a few minutes, He took out a piece of chalk, walked over and placed a large X on one particular part of the machine. He then said’ “Tap it here with a hammer, just once.”

      After the one tap, the computer roared back to life and began working!

      A few days later, GE received an invoice from the retired engineer for $10,000! This was a lot of money in those days, so they returned it to the engineer and asked that he itemize his invoice.

      A few days later, they received an itemized bill which read:

      Chalk for one X mark – $1.00

      Knowing where to place the X – $9,999.00

      • Ash says 09 June 2011 at 10:27

        That is hilarious. 🙂

  12. Adam says 09 June 2011 at 06:27

    Finding an auto mechanic/shop you can trust is invaluable. It’s not different than trusting your dentist, or any other person you have a professional relationship with.

  13. Erin O says 09 June 2011 at 06:34

    One of the best lessons I learned early on in my car owning life was have a great mechanic you can trust. Luckily I learned this when I was young (early 20’s), female and used to mechanics treating you as clueless. Based on recommendations I found someone who ran his own small shop. When the dealer had a recall and I was on the phone with the service folks after dropping off my car and was told the faulty thing could only be fixed safely if they fixed x,y, and z as well (at my expense), I called my mechanic up for advice. He told be they were lying and to tell them I would bring the car back for the recall after “my regular mechanic” fixed the other stuff. Lo and behold when I showed up to pick up the car the recall items were completed. I still had to fix the leaky radiator they noticed but my regular guy did it for much less.
    Now our two family cars have 240K and 227K on them and are going strong. My mechanic thinks I can get about 300K out of each one and we have a great dialog about what things need to be maintained/fixed and what don’t. I love that I totally trust him and taking care of the cars is less stressful because of our good relationship.

  14. Ilya C says 09 June 2011 at 06:35

    Having a local mechanic in your corner is a great feeling. I don’t go to the mechanic all that often but when I do it’s always the same place, and after years of this, I know the guy is not trying to hustle me. Plus they’ll usually cut you a good deal as opposed to corporate places that run on more cookie cutter pricing.

    I go to the mechanic with a few of my friends (if I can’t help them myself) to make sure they are not getting scammed. Some of the things mechanics will try to pull if they think they can get away with it is outrageous (and hilarious if you get to catch them on it)

    Even better though, is picking up a service manual, and a few wrenches and learning how to do some basic maintenance on your own. My first car was a junker that I kept alive with the help of my friends who knew more about cars than I did. After a while I graduated from basic oil chances to more advanced stuff under the hood. It’s satisfying, and I have likely saved a small fortune doing a lot of work myself!

  15. Erin says 09 June 2011 at 06:36

    When I was single, I went to my now husband’s family’s mechanic for the first time. I was on a very limited budget. I told him that I was on such a budget and asked that he call me before performing any work so that I could ok it. It helped to find out what I was going to spend (pretty exactly) before I spent it. Because it was a small repair shop there weren’t extra random fees tacked on.

    It also helped that my now-father-in-law called and told them to take care of me. 🙂

  16. Kim says 09 June 2011 at 06:40

    We had a good friend that was a mechanic that helped us find a trustworthy shop. We have been frequenting the same shop for over 5 years now and have a good relationship with the owners. Often times they’ll just give us 10% off because they’re in a good mood. We get coupons in the mail from them and use them. I feel cheap sometimes always asking for discounts, but we’ve spent a TON of money there!!! Giving us the discounts and being honest with each interaction has kept us loyal customers.

  17. Drew Dowdell says 09 June 2011 at 06:50

    Years ago I had a component fail on my Lincoln that caused raw fuel to be dumped into the exhaust catching the catalytic converter on fire. Luckily a state trooper was right behind me with a fire extinguisher and put the fire out before there was any damage.

    The Ford dealer that was doing the repair came back with an estimate of $600+ dollars. There was one line item I found very interesting.

    $100 to remove and clean my spark plugs. That made me blink a bit and I asked the guy what that was about. He said “Well when the raw fuel went into the cylinders, it likely fouled your spark plugs, so we need to clean them.” Ignoring the fact that raw fuel goes into the cylinders EVERY TIME THE CYLINDER FIRES… I said “Spark plugs are $1.00 a piece. $100 for that job and I don’t even get new plugs out of it? Take it off the estimate.”

    The service adviser said “Well ok, but we can’t be held responsible if it doesn’t run right”. I told him “Well if it doesn’t run right afterwards, you can diagnose that problem and if it needs NEW plugs, then let me know.”

    Of course once the computer chip that failed was replaced, it started up and ran just fine for another 100k miles.

  18. Andrew says 09 June 2011 at 07:04

    I think in terms of saving money when going to the repair shop, it’s a good idea to learn some basic auto maintenance. Changing a light in most cars shouldn’t take more than ten minutes and a screwdriver, be it headlights or brake lights. Knowing an being able to do simple maintenance like checking/topping off fluids, replacing lights and air filter, changing the oil/filter, etc. will save you a lot in labor costs and are easy to learn. It also gives you the bonus of knowing a little more about your car so there’s less chance of being completely lost in mechanic lingo.

  19. Chase says 09 June 2011 at 07:22

    This story reads like fiction or is very embellished. I’m surprised it didn’t end with him selling you a new car instead of replacing the light.

    And yes, it’s crazy easy to replace a tail light and the sense of satisfaction that goes with doing it yourself is great.

    Although I am one that loves paying for my oil to be changed. I consider my time to be valuable. I know how to change oil, I’ve done it before, I don’t care to do it again.

    But, I’m still kind of scared of the kinds of bills that can come on nicer cars which is the main reason I’m hesitant to get a new(er) and nicer car even though I can now afford both the car and repairs that would come with it.

    • Dan says 09 June 2011 at 07:30

      Yeah, I thought there was some creative liberty in there too.

      I live in an apartment, so doing my own oil would be a pain — not only that, but I don’t have a garage or other space to store tools, and I’d have to dispose of my oil properly. It’s just easier to have someone else do it.

      I can change my own tire — that’s something everyone should learn to do.

  20. Coley says 09 June 2011 at 07:31

    Funny post. Good comments.

    The only thing that disappointed me about the post is that, while it gives a nice list of suggestions on how to navigate the potential pitfalls of contracted automobile maintenance, never does it even come close to suggesting that the customer might try to learn a little bit more about how his car actually operates. This subtly perpetuates the myth that cars are either too complex for the average person to understand even the basics, or, somehwat more controversially, they’re too low-brow for an educated person to bother learning much about.

    They’re neither. And I realize that this is easy for me to say, as engineering was my undergraduate background, but many people should really start to learn the basics of how their cars work. Read howstuffworks. Get a book. Read some car blogs here and there. The same goes for your house and major appliances.

    There’s an expectation on GetRichSlowly that everyone should know the fundamental basics of finance and investing. Many in this group believe that people should be ever striving to learn more about their food and cooking, even gardening or other pursuits. There’s no reason to not try to learn about some of these mechanical challenges, so that, like the previous commenter, you’ll understand that “raw” fuel coming into contact with spark plugs is not a reason for replacement.

    Personally, I have a working knowledge of cars, and I have no desire to change my own oil. Doing so is not terribly cost effective if one doesn’t enjoy the pursuit. I would, at least, attempt to change a tail light, because there can be almost a 10x markup having that done by a mechanic.

    I usually go to the Honda dealer for all our maintenance (repairs are few and far between). The tricks are to always bring the latest mailer of coupons, and instead of paying for their “recommended” maintenance schedule, go line-by-line with the service rep through the schedule contained in your owner’s manual.

    There’s still going to be some markup at a dealership over local, but at the same time, they’re highly concerned about their national reputation and customer service, so you’re much less likely to get totally taken advantage of. Also, free cappuccino and Wi-Fi.

  21. AMP says 09 June 2011 at 07:39

    I work at a dealership, and our management system has an option to automatically add a percentage of the parts & labor total as a “service fee” to the invoice (1.5-2%, I think). It’d be interesting to calculate and see if that’s the case here.

    • Sharon says 09 February 2015 at 09:18

      My husband and I own an auto repair shop. We charge a percentage of the parts total as ‘shop supplies’ to cover things like bolts and washers that don’t get itemized on the invoice. We are an honest shop and we price things fairly but in the end we ARE a business, not a charity. We need to make a certain percentage of profit on each ticket in order to keep the doors open. It does not mean we’re trying to rip off our customers, far from it. We’re trying to stay in business so we can continue to help them and their families stay safe on the roads for many years to come.

  22. Laura says 09 June 2011 at 07:58

    The advice from readers to learn something about car repair is generally good but only if you (a) have any interest in the topic (I don’t) and (b) have the time to invest. I know the response would be it’s in my financial best interest to learn it, but that’s like telling someone that they need to learn everything about fabrics and sewing to buy the best-quality clothing – I’d rather find someone else I trust who knows this stuff and pay them for their expertise.

    I’ve found it very effective when a (former) garage tells me they’ve found additional things that need work and my BS-meter goes off, to ask them to provide it in writing and I’ll get a 2nd opinion before having any work done. I ignore their dire warnings that the work must be done before the car is driven off their lot or it’ll fall apart/they can’t guarantee their rates. I tell them I’ll take that risk. The few times I’ve done this, I’ve been right that the proposed work wasn’t needed.

    We are blessed with an excellent garage down the street from our house. Their advice was to take a car to the dealership if it’s still under warranty so you get the work done for free, and as soon as the warranty expires, find a garage you like and trust.

    • Dan says 09 June 2011 at 11:50


      Nobody is suggesting that you become an “expert” on anything. But you need to know enough about most major things in your life to figure out whether or not people are taking advantage of you, or otherwise ripping you off.

      I’m not an expert in investing, but I know enough to know that if someone is trying to sell me something with a sales load, that they’re lying if they tell me I “can’t go wrong” with that investment.

      Fabrics? You need to know enough about your high quality fabrics to know if a) the fabrics are truly high quality or knock-offs and b) the fair price to pay.

      As far as the interest and time for basic car repairs goes, well, if you couldn’t be bothered to save $100 in exchange for 20 minutes of your time, then I’m jealous. That’s a financial trade-off you have the luxury of making, and I don’t. And, if your time is truly that valuable, then surely it’s worth your time to learn how to change a tire — do you have two hours to wait for a tow truck to come and help you if you get a flat in the middle of nowhere?

      Back to sewing… if a button pops off your shirt, do you repair it yourself or pay someone to do it? I don’t have the desire to become a seamstress, but I can put a button back on a shirt, so I think you’re exaggerating quite a bit.

  23. Chris says 09 June 2011 at 08:04

    You can’t change a lightbulb? Really?

    • Nicole says 09 June 2011 at 10:38

      How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?

      • SLCCOM says 09 June 2011 at 13:22

        Check out “How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb.” Hilarious!

  24. Pamela says 09 June 2011 at 08:06

    I really like the referrals in the mechanic database over at NPR’s Car Talk website:

    You can read reviews and leave reviews for mechanics you’ve met.

    What’s great about the site is they ask you to rate repair shops on some really good criteria, like whether they fix things right the first time and whether they treat women differently than they do men.

    I agree strongly with all the commenters above who recommended finding a great local shop and staying with them. The Car Talk database is a good place to start.

    • El Nerdo says 09 June 2011 at 08:52

      Oh, that is great, thanks so much for posting!

    • Nicole says 09 June 2011 at 08:56

      I’m happy to see that the one we use is the one with the most ratings in our town. 🙂

  25. Crystal says 09 June 2011 at 08:17

    HAHAHA! Yep, the #1 thing anybody can do to save money on car repairs is spend the time in the beginning to find a great repair shop with honest mechanics. It took me 3-4 tries, but I found my shop and pass 6 others on the way just because my mechanic doesn’t charge me for things that don’t exist (I check on the internet) and they charge $40 an hour for labor instead of the regular $50-$75 an hour that is normal in Houston. My dude also realizes that a Chevy Aveo naturally has a few little issues that we can ignore but lets me know if it is something I really shouldn’t… 🙂

  26. ali says 09 June 2011 at 08:44

    One of the best things to do is ask around – friends, co workers, who ever is in your area, and ask where they get their work done.

    Also don’t dismiss a franchise or local chain just because of who they are. I moved recently but before I moved my regularly went to a repair shop that was part of a regional chain. They were honest, did good work, always treated me fairly and never like I was stupid and other people I knew used them as well, all with the same good experience.

    I used them for everything except a brake repair, my brakes weren’t working right, I was stressed out already, and I didn’t call my usual place and say “can you work on the brakes” I went to a brake “specialist”. And they fixed the brakes and I paid them. But they left me with dire warnings that I needed additional work done on the brakes and that I might be able to get 6 months of driving out of them but I should probably go ahead and make an appointment.

    I didn’t because I felt pressured.

    I ended up with another issues and took my car in and asked – can you look at this and check the brakes. And well check for anything else too.

    My brakes it turned out – were fine. No problem at all. However, I had been ignoring a few things I thought were “minor” and I need about 6 things fixed or replaced, including the catalytic converter. I ended up with a hefty bill, (but I got a discount for having AAA) but if I’d had the few “minor” things checked out earlier it either I could have gotten them repaired as the problems arose and not spent as much all at once.

  27. jim says 09 June 2011 at 08:46

    Check out for an idea of what common repairs and maintenance *should* cost.

    Is this story all for real or just fictionalized?

  28. Spider-mike says 09 June 2011 at 08:55

    Some things I have learned:

    #1)-Try to buy cars that will last a long time statistically ( I like Hondas)
    #2)-Don’t buy extended warranties unless your new car has a history of problems (might not want to buy it but…), I have bought them twice and never used them and the odds are very low that you will. Now people who have used them will argue differently but typically they are in the minority for the usage of the warranty. If you do buy it you can haggle on it, I got the dealer to lower the warranty amount by $300 the last time.
    #3)-Find a good mechanic, I had one where I used to live but don’t have one yet.
    #4)-Follow your manufacturers recommended maintenance not your dealers or service shop, know your service schedule well, otherwise they could will jam you with additional services/fees you don’t need.
    #5)-Go to a dealer if they are good but a little more pricey. I take my car to the dealer for major stuff because of a couple reasons: They get it done right the first time, they give me discounts and have highly trained associates. I go to franchise service shops for in-expensive stuff where I can use coupons or I know they will be cheaper than my dealer for tires, brakes, etc..
    #6)-You can negotiate certain prices. I call and ask different dealerships in the area their price and/or call using coupon information that was mailed to me from whoever.
    #7)-Do a little research on your car if its making a certain noise. You can usually get an idea of the problem from car forums on the net for your specific model. A lot of the car forums have knowledgeable people and/or actual technicians contributing. You can go to a site like put in your model information and issue to get a cost range for your specific problem, usually you can do better by calling around.
    #8)-Do more research on the issue as it might be a recall or something affected by a technical service bulletin(TSB). Recall information will usually be sent to you by the manufacturer but if there is a TSB you may never know. A good dealer will tell you and independent shops probably won’t know. The TSB tells the dealership about a potential issue and how to fix it. These are issues that don’t fall into recall status but cause problems and sometimes the bulletin indicates if the customer can be compensated out-of-warranty for labor and/or parts. A good site for basic info is Also there is info at You can get the NHTSA TSB# from the listing. The older your car the more likely there are dozens of bulletins. Also most sites give you a summary of the TSB, its harder to get detailed descriptions and you usually have to pay or someone might post it on a forum. Here is a good explanation of TSBs
    #9)-If your engine light comes on you can read the code with an oem code reader ($50 at amazon) and determine what the problem is yourself. I don’t have one but since many places charge $75 just to read the code even if say your gas cap isn’t tightened enough which will turn the engine light on.

    #10)-The last thing on savings is ask if the dealership has unadvertised service specials, they usually do. I took my car in and they were able to stack a couple discounts to save me about 50% on service.

    • AC says 09 June 2011 at 09:49

      don’t forget when purchasing a car and in the middle of the negotiation process to try and add in free services such as oil changes. A lot of dealers are able to tack this on rather than take money off the bottom-line price.

  29. Jenne says 09 June 2011 at 09:02

    For many years, I used a mechanic who had a time estimate book. Apparently this is something mechanics can buy. They then can tell you how long it’s going to take, and bill you *that*. My mechanic always stuck to the price for what needed to be done, only increasing it if they had to do something else. It saved them the trouble of computing real-time hours, I think, and it meant I didn’t have to deal with mark-up.
    My partner is a motorhead now, so I let her do all the car arrangements. But I strongly agree that two signs of a good mechanic are ‘does it come in at the estimate,’ and ‘does he/she tell you what needs fixing– differentiating between what needs fixing now and what can wait.’ Don’t go to a mechanic that doesn’t do the latter.

  30. chacha1 says 09 June 2011 at 10:26

    I have only the vaguest idea of all the systems that have to work together for my 16 yr old Honda to run. Have no interest in learning more, and – being an apartment dweller – I can’t even *wash* my car at home, much less change the oil.

    There is a Midas franchise a short walk from the apartment. I took the car in once for an oil change and liked the way I was treated there (respectfully, with thorough and verifiable information – better than at our Honda dealer service place).

    My car’s been in there now for everything from radiator hoses to brakes to shocks to spark plugs. It’s got over 240K miles and I expect it to make 300K.

    My tips for saving money on car care: 1) read your owner’s manual. 2) know the regular maintenance schedule, put maintenance targets on your calendar, and keep your own maintenance log. This stuff should not, generally speaking, come as a surprise. 3) be courteous and patient with your repair staff, friendly if you can manage it. Friendly ALWAYS works. I’ve gotten discounts that I know were just due to me being nice.

    Note on replacing light bulbs … it isn’t always that easy. My DH does our headlight/taillights, and on his 99 Accord they’re a snap. On my 95 Accord they are a thirty-minute ordeal. Just something about the assembly.

  31. krantcents says 09 June 2011 at 10:44

    First thing is find a mechanic you can trust! If you do that you will avoid a great deal of this grief. Ask your fiends, check with the Auto club (AAA), or check with a local school who may have an auto shop. Talk to people who have older well maintained cars and ask them where they go.

  32. almost there says 09 June 2011 at 11:01

    I trust myself more than the dealer service department. I noticed a bolt on my oil pan was snapped off. Purchased all new fasteners and gaskets for the oil pan and exhaust manifold and pipe that had to be removed. Decided I really didn’t want to struggle under my del sol up on front wheel ramps and took parts to honda dealer to change out gasket. Some months later noticed oil leaking just enough to coat underside but not drip on ground. Investigated and found that they had not replaced snapped off bolt and all 22 bolts and nuts were severely undertorqued. I ended up doing the work myself the right way and torquing the fasteners to the required 9 ft/lbs. No one cares more about your car than you do.

  33. SLCCOM says 09 June 2011 at 13:39

    My father always said to look for a stand-alone shop that relies on repeat business. Pass on the chains. Also, ask at the Auto Zone, etc. who they recommend when you move to a new area. We got steered right to our guy.

    Warning: if your stand-alone shop expands and builds a huge new building, check them out carefully. One of our good guys started ripping us off when he did, so we moved on.

  34. Nick says 09 June 2011 at 14:17

    The best piece of advice if you don’t feel comfortable calling out a mechanic: shop around! Any legitimate shop should do an estimate for free and will find this a perfectly reasonable request. Remember, until they have your keys and signature, you don’t owe them anything. Getting estimates from multiple shops does a few things:

    1) It allows market forces to work. Shops that are upfront and reasonably priced will be rewarded, and those that ask too much or fabricate extra problems will stand out alongside the honest ones.

    2) It becomes more obvious which mechanics are making things up. If 4 out of the 5 mechanics say you need A, B, and C and the 5th says you also need D they’re either being thorough or lying.

    3) It lets you run their competitor’s estimates by the others. At the second shop you can say, “hey, this guy quoted me this for this – does that look right to you?” Maybe you’ll get a better deal with the second shop, or maybe they will validate the previous shop. Either way, you’re empowered with more information when you decide.

  35. Gern Blandershphelt says 09 June 2011 at 14:38

    I hope you didn’t pay more than 10$ for that brake light. They cost 2-5$ at a parts store and take 15 minutes for installation by someone who has never installed one before.

    Replacing a tail light is one of the simplest things you can do to a car.

  36. Dobie says 09 June 2011 at 17:21

    People do have to beware of dishonest mechanics – especially single women. I took my car in one time with a broken windshield wiper arm (not the motor – just the arm itself). I was told that the part cost over $150.00 – because it was the sports model. I was driving a Chevy Corsica at the time. I laughed and left. I bought the part at NAPA for $17.00 and put it on myself.

  37. Chris Grgs says 09 June 2011 at 17:35

    A lot of comments say to find a trust worthy shop, and to ask car nut friends, etc etc etc. I was having trouble with my car, and I kept taking it back to the dealer ship and it was costing me big everytime. Finally they tried to get me for a couple of grand that I didn’t have, so I refused the service. I don’t know where I got the idea, but I went and checked the local Better Bussiness Bureau. They had an F, for over charging for unneeded work. They actually had a list of mechanics that were accredited by the BBB! I did some checking, and found out that one of them did all the work the city vehicles and I went there. They told me something amazing: I didn’t need anymore work, and it would be unethical for them to do anything. Ever since they ar the only shop I’ll use.

  38. Dan says 09 June 2011 at 19:08

    So I didn’t really read through everyone’s comments but I do want to point out some good info for everyone to save you money.

    Advance Auto Parts and I believe Autozone both offer the following services for free:

    Battery test and replacement.
    Alternator testing, both on and off car.
    Windshield Wiper Replacing.
    Engine code reading (the code readers can be bought for yourself, but a lot of parts stores off the service at no charge and can give you the code)

    I worked at Advance Auto Parts for a few years and I know that if we weren’t too very busy, we’d go out and swap out the bulbs for the customers too. It was recommended for us to do so because we’d get returns for bad headlights because the customers would touch the glass with their bare hands, which would get the oil on them and cause them to break.

    If you’re having an issue at all, I’d say stop at a place like that first. Even if you’re having an issue where your car is running bad but don’t have a check engine light on because you may never know if the light is burned out.

    I’m not saying everyone that works at a shop like that will be helpful, because sometimes they do have some bad employees. But (at least at Advance Auto Parts) we didn’t work on commission, so it didn’t matter to us what we were able to get you to buy. The only time we ever made money on selling was during promotions, but it was usually when there was a sale on that item or we had excess and we were told to push that inventory. But that was something along the lines of $0.25-1 per item.

    It’s just good business practice to help out the customer instead of trying to rip them off and be rude to them.

  39. Anon. says 09 June 2011 at 21:37 is an excellent website for finding a trustworthy mechanic.

    I think these are all great suggestions. I just want to add – don’t delay recommendations when your manual and/or mechanic indicate you’ve reached maintenance milestones, but you’re waiting to actually see your car broken down before you pull out your wallet. You will create much more costly repairs by skipping oil changes and refusing to pay for new brake pads.

    Also, clean under your car’s hood periodically. Try to avoid parking and hygiene situations where mice/rats/bugs/maggots might end up in your car. I work on cars and you wouldn’t believe how foul some people are.

  40. Caitlin says 10 June 2011 at 06:51

    What’s up with the little “this article!” sidebox? It’s weird looking, and appears as part of the normal text when reading via RSS.

  41. Danish Kem says 10 June 2011 at 08:42

    BTW………what is an actuated re-inverter vs. self-regulating.

    I’m a car buff………..and that has got me wondering.

    I’ve never heard those terms before.

  42. Charlotte says 10 June 2011 at 09:50

    Here’s another article on how franchises like Jiffy Lube overcharge:

  43. WeekendGreasemonkey says 10 June 2011 at 16:49

    I’m actually surprised that anyone would take a car into a mechanic to have lights replaced. For the 3 cars I’ve owned I bought the Haynes manual for each. If you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, you can take on a lot of the regular maintenance yourself and for the cost of the manual (the last one I bought was about ~$20 on Amazon Marketplace less than a year ago) you’ll save yourself a not insignificant amount of money over a few years. In the last year I’ve changed the headlights, and replaced a cracked interior door handle on my partner’s car and fixed the splash guard on my own car when I managed to rip it off in a parking lot.

  44. dcs says 11 June 2011 at 06:55

    I often see articles and blogs say things like “take a dispute to the BBB, the Attorney General, or resort to legal action” but I’d like to point our another possibility. In most states, auto repair shops are required to be licensed. The state licensing agency can and will fine, or even pull the license of, the shop and/or the mechanic for individual infractions.

    Even the threat of of a complaint to a licensing agency can be very effective. Here in Michigan at least, threats of complaints to the BBB and the Attorney General rarely elicit much of a response. But whip out a Michigan Bureau of Automotive Regulation complaint form and start filling in blanks on the service manager’s desk, and suddenly a compromise may become possible.

    It’s not just for auto repair either – it works with any service business that requires a license. In the past 20 years I’ve had to follow through on these threats against everything from auto repair shops to (federally-licensed) mortgage banks. Suddenly ongoing disputes were immediately and satisfactorily resolved in my favor.

    Just make sure you know the exact name of the licensing agency – and use it. Thanks to the internet, that’s pretty easy to find. “I’ll report you to the state” or “I’ll file a complaint with the government” tells the offender you don’t really know who to report it too, and they will ignore it. But throw out names like State Bureau of Commercial Services or Federal Office of Thrift Supervision and I bet you see their eyes bug out a little.

  45. Moe says 12 June 2011 at 13:14

    I’m a tech at a local Jaguar/Porsche dealership. I’ve been in “the car scene” all my life. Only had someone else work on one of my own vehicles once, so excuse my ignorance when I ask, why wouldn’t you want someone like me (received an associates degree in automotive repair and another in pre-engineering, certified by ASE, certified by the automotive company I work for) to tell you the other things you find wrong with your car while it’s in for an oil change?

    I can’t speak for all shops but us techs don’t get paid for inspecting your vehicle and personally it takes me about a half hour to complete. That’s a half hour of my own time just to let you know whats going on under that car of yours. Where else can you go to get a certified professional to check out anything for free now-a-days? It’s totally your choice if you want the broken/worn/leaking part fixed/replaced, but isn’t it nice to know your shocks are leaking? I’m not saying get it replaced at the dealer, because, their rates are ridiculous. (I think ours are $150 an hour and I only get paid $9.50 but that’s a whole different rant)

    If I was one of my customers, I would settle for the overpriced oil change from the dealer if it includes a free inspection and take the list of suggested repairs and take it to a trusted TECHNICIAN (there is a difference between techs and mechanics). If you do have friends who are techs, don’t take advantage of us, pay us. :]

  46. Andrew says 13 June 2011 at 05:56

    You forgot one thing – know the laws in your state. Some states require that actual charges must be no more than 20% (or 10%, etc.) than the estimate without approval from the vehicle owner. If they are in violation of that, even if the charges are legit, it is an automatic bill reduction (or you pay it and file a complaint with the appropriate authority).

  47. A.J. says 13 June 2011 at 09:09

    I don’t have a comment about the article itself, but I accidentally clicked on the photo in this article, only to discover (by browsing the Flickr photostream) that this sign stood less than two miles from where I live (until the building was torn down in 2007). Small world.

    Strange to go through his photostream and see stores that I knew very well growing up but have since been closed/shut down/whatever. Definitely made my morning, reliving a few old memories.

    Thanks for picking that photograph out of a hat, whoever’s responsible.

  48. JDO says 13 June 2011 at 12:22

    My wife recently went to a Honda dealership for an oil change and walked out with a $1300 bill including brakes, a $200 charge to change coolant, and a “pollen filter”. I felt they had taken advantage of her, and wrote a letter to Honda Corp, CCing my state attourney general, better business bureau, and my lawyer. Got a full refund.

  49. Spedie says 14 June 2011 at 07:52

    I do not go to dealers unless it is for warranty work. I found a good local shop nearly 4 years ago. The last time I went in there the owner tried to upsell me. I will never go back.

    It is difficult to change one of the light bulbs in the rear of my car, but I can do it. The lack of space for fingers is too small.

    I have found Auto Zone most convenient for wipers and batteries.

    I, too, am female. I learned early on that some shops try to charge me the “stupid woman price”. I send my hubby in for estimates as he gets a lower estimate if it is an unfamiliar shop. And I know more about cars than he does as my first husband was a mechanic. My first hubby and I did 4 or 5 engine rebuilds together!

  50. Khan says 14 June 2011 at 09:26

    For a little guidance on potential DIY fixes such as replacing a bulb, one can find some pretty detailed instructions.

    Google for: replacing brake light + honda accord
    Not only brings up step-by-step instructions, but even a You Tube video on how to do it.

    Even for problems that are beyond DIY realm, you can be better armed before going to the shop.

    I had a Honda Prelude that, on hot days, would only start after sitting for 10 minutes.
    Google: honda prelude does not start on hot days
    And found out it is a common problem and knew if mechanic suggested something other than replacing the defective part, I should go else where.

  51. Gary says 20 June 2011 at 07:28

    I have a reasonably complete knowledge of vehicle mechanical and electrical systems, as well as the automotive repair trades. I also have a good nose for the aroma of car repair BS, yet I have still had a few “inventive” shops try to pull one over on me, so I feel the pain of those who aren’t comfortable dealing with such shops and their repairs. I didn’t see most of the following suggestions mentioned, so I’ll offer them for consideration. I hope they prove helpful; however, I don’t advise using them (or any other suggestions) in a rude or insulting manner — there’s nothing to be gained and it could undermine getting your repair done. Even top-notch shops/mechanics make honest mistakes, so adopting a “trust but verify” attitude is generally the best approach — a good shop/mechanic will immediately correct a mistake without an argument.

    1. Whenever possible, get the shop to point out the part(s) they say need replacement — while still in place on your vehicle. Take note of their location(s) and what they look like, paying particular attention to any damage, trademarks, numbers, and/or labels visible on them (a cell phone photograph can be very useful here). Do this after you get the diagnosis and repair estimate, but before giving the green light to proceed. This is, of course, not possible for parts internal to the engine, transmission, etc, but it is useful when dealing with many “bolt-on” parts (e.g. an alternator or major air conditioning component, like the compressor).

    2. Ask the shop/mechanic to explain what’s wrong with the part(s) said to need replacement. Don’t accept “it’s broken,” but get a brief explanation of what’s wrong (the part’s normal function and how it’s function is no longer normal), and the rationale used to reach the replacement decision. You may not be comfortable asking, and may not understand the explanation, but you’ll demonstrate that you’re scrutinizing their diagnosis and work, and that their work quality (and trustworthiness) is important. It also provides some “ammunition” for action against them after their work is done and the bill is paid, should it become necessary.

    3. Ask them to clarify of the part(s): (a) if they can be rebuilt in their shop; (b) if they are available in a re-manufactured or third-party version; (c) the difference(s) in price and/or warranty between different versions available, if any; (d) if any part prices include a “core-charge,” requiring the original part(s) to be returned to a source to obtain the price(s) stated (not uncommon for some repairable parts such as alternators, air conditioning compressors, etc.); and (e) the labor warranty they provide on their work, regardless of any manufacturer’s part warranty (have them note on the bill any warranties not already on the bill). Choose the part option available that best fits your needs and wallet.

    3. Several people mentioned this, so I will only emphasize – always (ALWAYS!) ask for the actual parts removed from your vehicle before they begin the work. Even if a core charge is involved, you should examine such part(s) before turning them over — there’s probably no reason to keep them but, if you followed suggestion #2, you will then have the opportunity to confirm that your original part was actually removed.

    5. After the work is complete, but before paying the bill, examine your vehicle and the bill (look for inconsistencies and unexplained charges). Focus on the area(s) repaired, but look over the entire vehicle — look for any obviously loose or missing parts (caps, screws, nuts, bolts, hoses, electrical wires and fittings) or damage (repair-related or otherwise). Also verify that the part(s) the shop/mechanic said needed replacement in suggestion #1 were, in fact, replaced with the parts you agreed to have installed.

  52. Lindsey says 05 July 2011 at 20:24

    Typically my husband does the car maintenance (changing light bulbs, oil, brakes, transmission & other fluids, etc) but we needed some bigger parts fixed that he just didn’t have the time/expertise to fix. I actually handled the inital contact with the auto shop, as the owner grew up with my dad & his sister is still a family friend.
    Anyway, two days after my car was fixed, we decided my hubby’s car needed a fix-immediately. He handled the appointment & shop, but when we went in to drop his car off, the diagonistic fee was $40+ more than mine…we immediately challenged this & it was changed, since we own nearly the same car (just different years).
    It pays to get referrals & challenge fees you think are absurd (many of them are).

  53. Ron Rodriguez says 29 September 2012 at 08:05

    I am a shop owner and believe the reason this customer had issues when bringing in his car for a broken tail light were that the most common factor with franchise or larger types of automotive facilities is that most employees work on a commission based salary. These employees are looking for the one time homerun. The concern is not so much that they come back as a regular customer, but that they maximize that one repair order to enhance their salary. And by the way – I agree the best thing you can do is find a local shop and stick with them and referrals from neighbors and co-workers is an excellent way to find reputable repair shops.

  54. Tara says 27 June 2013 at 11:25

    This is seriously EVERY experience I have had at a car mechanic. Without fail, they are always trying to get me to buy more than I need, making me feel stupid, etc.

  55. Judy says 06 August 2013 at 19:09

    Do we have to pay part of an auto service centers bill mistakenly not charged to us by the garage for work done in 2011? (the part they are trying to get us to pay is on page two of the bill but they only charged us & we paid for (back in 2011) page one. All of a sudden. they contact us telling us we owe an additional charge.

    • SLCCOM says 07 August 2013 at 11:21

      Ethically, did they do the work? Did they do it well? If so, yes. Did you realize that it wasn’t billed earlier?

      Legally, check with your local District Attorney and see if there is a statute of limitations.

      I would be inclined to pay it. And if you realized that they forgot to bill it earlier, absolutely! However, if they are that sloppy in their bookkeeping, I would wonder about their work.

  56. jennifer christopher says 01 November 2013 at 13:38

    I am questioning the repairs done on my truck. Want to take it to a different repair shop to run diagnostics. Was told by the people who preformed the work that if I have a diagnostics done by another repair shop , their work will not be warrantied by them any longer. Is this a true statement? Thanks for all the help you can give me..

  57. Mike says 13 January 2014 at 14:10

    Very good info, because you never know how your mechanic could be screwing you. Good to be able to argue about your bill and sound like you actually know what you are talking about.

  58. tif says 24 March 2014 at 06:04

    Took my car to Nissan I thought it was the transmission the rep assured me it wasn’t told me he test drove the car himself it wasn’t the transmission but gave me a list of other things it was .I fixed all those others things . I was still having all those same problems so I took it back to Nissan 3 times the final time I went I spoke with the rep I normally deal with but he wasn’t there the day i drop my car off I told him the issue he had a Nissan mechanic come and check the car the guy took 2minutes and said it was the transmission. The final rep assured me it wasnt told me he personally test drove my car. Come to find out he didn’t he lied they arent suppose to and dont test drive cars. I asked for the manager and of course he wasnt there the acting manager was no helpthe guy admitted he said all this stuff to me but they did nothing I was screwed what could I have done especially with a large corporations abd the guy admitting in front of ppl what he did

  59. auto glass replacement houston says 21 May 2014 at 09:25

    If that is effective, count yourself lucky and nothing
    more. The hassles of insurance, car repairs, and treating possible injuries can alter your daily
    or weekly routine for quite a while. The worst part about it is that it
    happens to so many people every day and it
    usually happens in the chain or dealership auto repair shops rather than the independent shops that
    many believe.

  60. Alice Evridge says 22 May 2014 at 19:55

    There is nothing better than a reputable mechanic. Choose your company carefully. Based on years in service. Not a national chain.

    We do equipment repair. Our favorite customers are the ones who know their machines, know the industry and have experience.

    But we do heavy equipment repair. Dozers, loaders, scrapers … If it does industrial work, we probably do it. Or if we don’t we know who to send you to.

    Automotive is its own game. We cant help you there.

  61. Nancy says 22 July 2014 at 01:34

    Do you have to pay for an estimate? Like what’s wrong and it is way higher than they said. They want 50.00 plus taxes to tell me the parts I need. Is that legal?

  62. Barbara Irwin says 31 July 2014 at 09:57

    I had an alternator install on my 2007 Toyota Highlander last August 23,13. It was purchased from Napa Auto Parts, had a warranty of 3 yrs. It quite working on July 27 2014. Napa will honor the warranty, but should they not also pay the mechanics bill as w ell as the towing charge?

    • Daniel says 04 December 2015 at 20:27

      the only time your going to get the labor warrantied is if someone installed it and charged you for installing it

  63. Tom says 20 October 2014 at 16:27

    I recently repaired a few items on my truck myself. They were easy; anyone could do it. It took me about 30 minutes. It was the first time I had done a repair of that sort plus I was in no hurry. The parts cost me $82.00. Just for grins, I called the local dealer and asked for an estimate – parts and labor. I was quoted 500 and 30 some-odd dollars. The quote was for almost two hours of labor. I mentioned to the gentleman that that seemed a little long, given that someone else (myself) told me it should take about 30 minutes. He replied that the mechanic could do it in less time than that, but two hours was the going-rate and that’s what I’d be paying. I responded, so the mechanic could do it in 20 minutes or maybe a little less but I would be charged almost two hours. Yes, was the reply. I believe in an honest mark-up; I’m all for an honest, reasonable profit but that seems like nothing but greed. And they wonder why so many people avoid the dealer.

    • Daniel says 04 December 2015 at 20:38

      yeah seems unfair but there is a book mechanics go by to see how long a job is going to take,this is how they come up with your estimate.lets say you need a tranny for your car the book may call for 4 hours to remove it,but maybe I’m a real expert and I have pulled out 100 of those from cars like yours so I know a lot tricks to get it out in only 1 hour,should I then be paid less because of my experience and efficiency?Well regards of what your answer is,i will be paid the 4hours the book says it takes this is called flat rate. conversely if it takes me 6 hours I’m only getting paid for 4.i suggest you become a mechanic.
      P.S. this is why shops love break jobs,the book calls for 2 hours but most good mechs can do in 20-30mins

  64. shelly says 08 December 2014 at 23:06

    I need to know what i can do if i had a shop pick my car up and look at it,they worked on it with out me saying they could.they say u have to sign paper work before they will work on it.well i never signed of said they could do anything but see whats wrong.hey now wont give it nack say i owe a astronomical price when i been trying for months on end to get my car.i heard they may have sold it what can i do?help me please

  65. shelly says 08 December 2014 at 23:10

    If anyone can help me plz feel free.

    • SLCCOM says 09 December 2014 at 09:09

      Go to your local District Attorney. And call the police (NOT the 911 number!) A nice letter to the editor to alert people about this person in the paper might prevent future victims, and get others to file a complaint. That gives you leverage for a civil suit.

  66. Joe says 21 November 2015 at 16:41

    I toke my car to the mechanic because one day the car just won’t start, I knew it was going to be either electrical problem or the starter, after a week in the mechanic shop they call me to let me know the repair cost will be from 600.00 to 900.00 depend if the part to be replace is new or use plus unknown charge if the part need it to be program or not. I told him no I will not invest 1200 dollar oh that car anymore whit that money I will buy a down payment for a new one, he say that he can override the part somehow to lower the cost and just the starter have to be replace I accept telling him I will trust his knowledge and if he think won’t be any trouble later go ahead with the repair I ended up paying 535.00 dollars but at the time of picking up the car he say I just finish your car and I haven’t tested yet if you found any problem with it bring it back to us, I test the car but was worse than the beginning I call the mechanic shop the very next day and he say bring the car back, I did assuming this repair will be the warranty and I ended up paying another 380.00. My mistake and now my advise to others is that make sure that in the new ticket you sign make sure they write that this check up will cover under the warranty.

  67. Samantha says 14 February 2016 at 01:51

    I had a vehicle towed to the mechanic shop he contacted me a few days later with an estimate I told him to go ahead six weeks later my vehicle is finished my bill is double the amount I was inquiring as to why come to find out he had my vehicle sent to a whole Nother shop for repairs without my knowledge or permission somebody please tell me this is not OK….

    • Dena Sewell says 03 March 2016 at 09:01

      I do not know what state you are in but in New York the mechanic cannot charge more than the top estimate …so if the estimate is 400.00 to 700.00 the most they can legally charge is 700.00 and if they are licensed by the state they know that.Most people just bite the bullet and pay it even if the bill is double so the mechanic has nothing to loose by asking for the higher amount .If you dispute it and remind him of what he quoted you to fix the car he will likely adjust the bill because he could loose his license

  68. Camille says 11 March 2016 at 23:28

    I had a over heat problem which caused me to get thermostat and water pump replaced.. Car worked fine as I drove it home and about 15 miles before I brought it back for tune up my car is a 1997 328i BMW I figured to bring it back to previous mechanic.. The owner said it wouldn’t be able to be checked out til the next day and I was fine with that.. Next day I called to check on progress by noon the guy said it’s pretty busy and one of our guys called out sick so they haven’t looked into my car yet.. I called back at 4 because I still haven’t received a call and the owner says I may have a head gasket problem now my head starts to spin he says he’ll look into it more and I call back a few times stating I will just pick up my car I’m not comfortable in what your saying to me since it’s been in your shop since yesterday and now it’s almost the end of the day your telling me I may have a head gasket problem he said he wants to look deeper into it because the engine seems to be very strong.. Im like ok keep in mind it has very low miles alittle over 119,200 miles so I pop up to see a mechanic was trying to fix the passenger door that they claim caused a issue and closed and broke the diagnostic tools wire that they were using.. I feel they are trying to hassle me for more money.

  69. Diana says 20 March 2016 at 18:16

    we took our classic car to a guy we have known for 30 years. he used to be a good mechanic. that was in sept 2014. it is mar 2016, and we still don’t have our car. he will not answer his phone, and we heard he is going to charge us 6000. from a shop we never used, we paid for all the parts the whole time. he was going to haul it to us, on 4 different occasions, then never showed. he had no money, and we paid for everything. any help is appreciated. I am getting ready to go to a lawyer to get it back. we paid a lot of money for this car. it is a 66 gto convertible 4 speed 389 3 deuces. anything you can help me with will be appreciated. thank you

    • deb says 03 May 2016 at 00:14

      Don’t wait. If and when they hit you with a mechanic’s lien, go after them.

  70. Janet says 12 July 2016 at 18:29

    Nephew broke down in OGDEN UTAH his mom and dad talked 2 mechanics they sent 1400 dollars. 4 weeks ago now they want another $1000 2 let it go my sister flew up 2 utah last night because they haven’t fixed it and keep milking her 4 more money. She thinks they will have it fixed by 2 morrow if not she will have 2 leave it and fly back home.minus her money. Don’t know any legal way to put a stop to this.any suggestions. Probably be 2 late but if she runs into this again because she is,single it may help her

  71. Alex says 09 August 2016 at 13:51

    So I bought a car with 101k miles on it and 500 miles later the engine seized. I was under warranty and the mechanic I bought it from did all the work. He said I would get a new motor, instead I received a used engine. After which I drove it for a little while longer but wanted to sell and get out of the car. I had a buyer and I was on my way to drop the car off and the engine seized again… I am now out of 8k dollars. Being a 22 year old college student this is literally every dollar I owned. I went back to the mechanic and told him what had happened. He offered to tow it home and give me 1000 for it. knowing he was a scumbag I was not so keen on giving him the car. He towed it back. I put it on craigslist and submitted a complaint with the consumer affairs agency. Now he is hitting me with 150 bill for the tow. But I never asked him to tow it he offered. Am I responsible for the bill? I have been swindled and don’t know what to do now. HELP!

  72. Marie Russom says 25 September 2016 at 22:16

    In December 2015 my tranny on y g6 went out. The mechanic could not find one for my car so I did. He had my car for 2 months after he picked the tranny up, I paid him a 1000 dollars for labor the last week of March 2016. In July y car al of sudden won’t go so I coast into a cvs pharmacy, when I get out and look under the car al of the fluid is pouring out, the mechanic gets the car and I ask him what he thought it was. He said its either the front seal blowed or the housing cracked, he has had my car for nearly three months! The seal blew and he replaced it, he then sends a pic of his bill and its $920, I questioned this so I ask, he changed my o2 censor and didn’t even ask or know he was! He didn’t put a new seal in when he put the new tranny in! Do I have to pay for his mistake?

  73. Lanisha Frazier says 26 September 2016 at 12:54

    If I was told it was one problem($978) then the car still isn’t working do I have to pay for the first repairs

    • Katie Ryan O'Connor says 26 September 2016 at 14:42

      Hi Lanisha,
      Thank you for stopping by. I would say in general if your car still isn’t working after a major repair I think any reputable mechanic would want to take a look and check their work. It’s tough to tell without more detail, sorry!

  74. Muhammad Abuwi says 29 September 2016 at 04:57

    I received a auto repair quote from a local mechanic and he called me 3 days later and double the price. From $ $900.what legal action can I take?

  75. Sam says 05 October 2016 at 23:01

    Hi , I dropped my Maserati GTurismo at a friend shop repair after a crash in end of July2016 , he looked at the car and send me an estimate of $6.700 total.
    I agree on the estimate but didn’t ask me to sign any paper or to return the estimate back , so I let him worked on the car , I give him two payment already to help him pay the parts , $1.000 and $600.
    Today we are waiting for an hurricane and his shop isn’t insured for hurricanes.
    He is now asking me for $16.500 for the repairs and the parts. He is telling me that he has all the bills to prove he pay much money.
    He is also holding my car without me being able to move it to a safe place because of the hurricane . He also opened a credit Line to pay for the part and now he is being charge apparently 20% per month in a cyclone type of charge so now the interest he accumulated in 3month is over 5k and he ask me to pay for it.
    He is also asking me now for storage , even though the car is not totally finish and not able to drive. I feel trap , I will contact a lawyer ASAP for the situation but I need help please if someone can light me up about the situation and if anything legal or not. I live in Florida Miami .

  76. Valerie Molinar says 06 December 2016 at 00:39

    If I payed $1000. plus to repair my rx300, after two months, I drove it two days & my motor locked. Is it not if all atleast half of the bill to be refunded? Any advise?

    • Derek Holland says 27 February 2017 at 02:58

      No, you got screwed.

  77. Dakota says 04 January 2017 at 16:17

    This is why I never take my car to a shop. There’s not a lot you can’t do when you have YouTube, good tools, and a few buddies to help you out. Heck you can even rent the specialized tools for a lot less than the total price of a mechanic.

  78. Derek Holland says 27 February 2017 at 03:00

    Example: my father takes his car to a dealership to get the airbag light taken care of. After 2 visits and replacing the clockspring, airbag unit and passenger seat sensor, still no luck. Was pinched wiring under the carpet. Do you get your money back for all the parts they put on that weren’t bad….no.

  79. Derek Holland says 27 February 2017 at 03:06

    Sounds like he may in more trouble than just you.

  80. Derek Holland says 27 February 2017 at 03:07

    They are incompetent.

  81. Derek Holland says 27 February 2017 at 03:11

    Yes, usually diagnostics and a test drive are needed to even know what to put on an estimate. time is money

  82. Derek Holland says 27 February 2017 at 03:14

    1300 will replace every brake part on a Honda down to the screws.

  83. Derek Holland says 27 February 2017 at 03:16

    They are made up.

  84. Christina Honigberg says 11 March 2017 at 13:06

    I purchased a 2009 Smart Car for Two In December 2016 at that time a new battery was installed in the car. Sine then I have had it jump started 8 times and Towed 5. I might mention all this started a day or so after I got it home .I called a certain Auto Shop as they say they fix it right the first time . I told them it is a Smart Car and they seem to have no issue with that. Ok ! first they tell me it is the battery note I just had a new battery installed.Still they said I needed a battery that did not correct the problem .They would say it was another problem then change their minds after I had paid them .So far I have paid them close to 1000.dollars and still nothing .This time the car has been at their shop going into one month now .Sometimes the manger would drive my car to his home he said it was so he could check it out again . i have been very patient through it all but yesterday when he called he now says it needs a module and that would be 1600. dollars I must admit I was angry as I have paid for parts I never needed in the first place. I told him I would not pay one red cent more they say they fix things right the first time so make it right . I am 71 years old walk with a cane I feel they have taken unfair advantage of me in a criminal way . One other thing when the car went first to them it had been detailed and when I got it back the last time for a day it was filthy .Since December I have only gotten my car back a few time start one day and not the next I have in that time possible driven it 55 miles all told.

  85. JOHNSON says 09 January 2018 at 05:53

    I purchase a 2007 Honda Accord Sedan from east coast Honda dealership. Its 2017 My check engine light came on in my dashboard. I didn’t get it fix right away because going back to the dealer where I got the car from, I’m thinking it’s going to be expensive to get what’s ever going on with my car. When the check engine light came on, my car was acting like it wanted to cut of when I’m taking off from a complete stop. So I decided to take it Honda to see what’s going on with it. They told me they had to do a diagnostic to see what’s the problem, so that was fine with me. They called me back the next day and said I needed my sensor changed, I asked how much will it cost and they gave me the price and I told them to fix my car. I went to go pick up my car the next day or so and the light in the dash board was off when I picked it up but the very next day which was a Saturday I noticed the light came back on. I could call because the service department was closed so I had to wait until the next business day to call back. So I called the next day and told them my light in the dash board came back on and my car was still doing the same thing it was doing. So the young lady told me to bring it back to reset something which I did and it still didn’t fix the problem. I called her back and she was telling me about my other banks 2 sensor might need to be changed and I might need to consider going to a shell gas station to use their gas, which I did change gas station but the problem still didn’t fix my car. So she said I needed to change out my battery cable ends, so I asked her how much will that cost she said around $500.00. I told her that was a lot. So since they were telling this and that I said let me get another Mechanic opinion to see what he says about my car. I took it to another Mechanic and he said he will have to do a diagnostic on my car and I told him that was fine. So he looked at my car and said he think he has found the problem. It was the purge value canister. So since the Mechanic did that I had no problem with my car. I called the Honda dealership and spoke a young man and he said he would have a manager call me like the next week Wednesday, and I said ok. It was 2 weeks that went by and no one ever called. So I called them and I spoke to a young lady and she said she would have someone call me and someone did call back. I was explaining to him no one never called me back when they said they would and what they claimed they fixed on my car didn’t fix my car issues. So he didn’t apologize that they didn’t fix the problem and was telling me about my battery cables needs to be fix, but I stopped him in his tracks and explain to him what was done to my car didn’t have anything to do with the battery cable ends and the bank 2 sensor they said might needed to be changed would not fix my problem. I told him I’m not a fool there is no way I will keep bringing my car and getting everything they said I need fix on my car I would of been paying for this and that and it still wouldn’t fix the problem. I called the head business and put in a complaint on them because you want my business but not being apologetic of giving me the run around about what need to be done to fix my car issues and what you have already done and I paid you did not fix my car issues. I would advise anyone get a second opinion when your car have not been fixed right the first time and they want to say it could be something else the next time.

  86. Dana Reyna says 21 March 2019 at 14:44

    I drive a 2015 Toyota.. still is very good shape until my daughter his a yellow caution pole and almost knocked off my bumper.. besides that my car runs great.. always got it serviced onetime.. meaning old change, tire rotations.. basics.. well after 2 months my right side headlight started flickering and finally went out about two weeks ago. I took it to Toyota to have the bulb replaced and was told that it would cost me 700.00 to replace the entire house light.. WTF.. WHY!!! everything worked fine.. can someone tell me if this is true!

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