Car mechanics are some of the least trusted professionals in the country. In fact, 85 per cent of driver said they think they’re deceitful, new research has said.
And if you don’t know your cambelt from your flywheel dealing with car technicians can be even more of a worry – especially as these are the people that are most likely to be preyed on by dodgy mechanics, says Confused.com.
It asked a trustworthy one to give some tips on how to avoid being bamboozled by your garage and not be ripped off with extortionate repair bills.
How much? An honest car mechanic has spilled the beans on the underhand tactics used by garages to sting you when you take your car in for repairs, a service or MOT. And he’s also told us the methods you can use to catch dodgy technicians out
Worryingly, almost a third (30 per cent) of motorists believe they have been ripped off by a mechanic at some time or another, according to a recent survey of 2,000 car owners.
On average, drivers think they’ve been overcharged by an average of £205 on repair bills, with one in seven (13 per cent) being pressured into paying for new parts their car simply didn’t need, the comparison site said.
To uncover some of the ‘murky tricks of the trade’, Confused.com teamed up with a mechanic who revealed all about the underhand tactics some colleagues use to swindle motorists into paying more for repairs, services and MOTs than they should.
The mechanic – known only as Thomas to protect his identity from a nation of spanner-wielding garage workers – said these are the five most commonly used strategies of fellow professionals to rip off unknowing drivers.
1. Watch our for the use of jargon
If they think your mechanical knowledge is limited then garage workers will use a barrage of terms that will be like a foreign language to many.
By bewildering owners with jargon, they will increase their chances of persuading you that extra work needs to be carried out when there’s no need for it all.
It’s a tactic that works against both sexes. Men tend to agree in a bid to cover up their lack of understanding of how a car works and women can sometimes be fearful that terms mechanics use sound more dangerous than they are.
One in seven (14 per cent) admit they have been thrown by jargon and didn’t understand all of the technical language the mechanic was using.
How to avoid this: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially when it comes to the parts that need replacing.
If they fail to explain the reason behind it, up sticks and take your car elsewhere.
It’s also worth getting expensive replaced parts in writing that can be used to get a second opinion from another garage, compare repair costs and prevent the next mechanic from claiming the work needs when you book it in at a later date.
Thomas said: ‘If the mechanic is using words or terms you don’t understand then ask them to explain in plain English. Never trust a mechanic that isn’t happy to explain your repair to you so you understand.’
2. Avoid being overcharged for unnecessary repairs
It’s partly been covered above, but this is the biggest reason why drivers think they’ve been ripped off by more than £200 on average.
Some technicians will rightfully be highlighting issues with your car that could make it unsafe now or in the near future.
But others will simply suggest more work needs to be done to increase part sales and up their labour costs.
How to avoid this: Always ask if the car is roadworthy now without the repairs.
If the car is fine to drive then you can shop around and look for the best deal to get the parts replaced.
|Service||UK average cost|
|Brake Pads and Discs||£180.44|
|Source: Confused.com’s garage comparison service, correct as of 20th March 2018|
3. Be mindful that the new part you’ve paid for might be used – or not replaced at all
If you don’t lift the bonnet or look underneath the car yourself, it’s almost impossible to tell if parts have been replaced with glistening new components.
It’s a common ploy by dodgy mechanics to charge for used parts as new or not even change them at all.
How to avoid this: Again, put them on the spot with questions.
Ask to see the part they removed and the one they’ve replaced it with, as long as it is easy to see under the bonnet or anywhere on the car.
Then get an itemised bill so you can cross check what you’re paying for.
Thomas added: ‘If you’re paying for new parts then that is what you should be getting. You can always ask to see the part before they’re installed and you can even ask to see the old worn part, which most garages will keep.’
Always ask if the part is Original Equipment (OE) quality, or aftermarket. OE parts are made by the car manufacturer and so tend to be more expensive.
4. Does that flat tyre really need to be replaced?
Some punctures can be repaired, so don’t be fooled into paying over the odds for new rubber
Often when you get a flat tyre, it does need to be replaced, especially if the damage is a large slash, bulge in the rubber, big object wedged into it or cuts on the tyre wall.
But if the tyre is in good condition and the puncture is just in the tread it can sometimes be repaired.
How to avoid this: If you’re being told your car needs a new tyre, ask to see the location of the puncture and assess the damage for yourself.
If the damage is genuinely so bad that it definitely needs to be replaced, don’t settle for the first price they offer you.
Use an online tyre provider as a guide for how much you should be paying.
If the quote is still too high and your car comes with a spare or space saver wheel you can ask for it to be fitted (or do it yourself) and drive away.
Then you can have the defunct tyre replaced elsewhere at your convenience and a price you’re happier with.
5. Don’t be scammed during an MOT
As far as you’re concerned, your car is running perfectly. That’s until you take it in for an MOT and it comes away with a long list of repairs.
Some of these will be essential for the car to legally pass the roadworthiness test.
But don’t put it past dodgy garages to claim that some repairs are needed to pass the test when they’re really not.
How to avoid this: The Government has recently made efforts to make it clearer to drivers when MOT issues need to be repaired there and then.
As of changes to the test being enforced from this month, motorists will be told if their vehicle has a ‘Minor’ defect that will need attention or a ‘Major’ or ‘Dangerous’ fault that will result in the car automatically failing the test.
While Major or Dangerous faults will automatically trigger a failed test, minor defects will be noted on the MOT certificate, though the car will still pass.
These minor issues will be listed alongside any other advisory notices issued by the assessor and remain on the digital records that can be accessed on the Gov.uk MOT checker site.
If minor defects are repaired they will also need to be checked again if the vehicle is re-tested.
The MOT doesn’t cover the condition of the engine, clutch or gears, so there shouldn’t be anything about them in the fail report.
Not all mechanics are dodgy
Confused.com and Thomas both said not to tarnish all mechanics with the same brush as many professionals out there will have your best interest at heart
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, said drivers have felt exploited by mechanics for long enough and should take all measures required to best equip themselves for a trip to the garage.
What Britons really think about car mechanics
· Almost two in five women (39%) worry they will be ripped off by a mechanic compared to just over a quarter (27%) of male drivers.
· Nearly two thirds (62%) of female motorists believe they are treated differently to men when they take their car to the garage because of their sex.
· Over half (55%) of female drivers think mechanics believe that women don’t know much about cars.
· Almost three quarters (73%) of drivers resent a trip to the garage, with more than one in five (21%) going as far to say it makes them feel anxious and uneasy and one in 10 (11%) saying they try to avoid it at all costs.
Source: Confused.com survey of 2.000 drivers
‘While there are many reputable garages out there, our data shows people are sceptical because they simply don’t know how much they should be paying for repairs,’ she said.
‘And many believe mechanics are going to take advantage of them – even if they aren’t!
‘We urge drivers to do some research online to investigate the kind of prices they can expect to pay for specific types of repair work.
‘They should consider comparing prices from several garages to ensure they are getting the best value for money.
‘An easy way to do this is using a garage comparison service to see if they can find a cheaper price elsewhere in their local area.
‘With the cost of owning a car constantly increasing, it is important that drivers do what they can to avoid getting ripped-off and shop around to save carloads of cash.’
Honest car mechanic Thomas added: ‘Most mechanics are passionate about cars and customer service. We will show you the same respect that you show us.
‘Don’t assume a mechanic is out to rip you off – not all car mechanics are crooks, the majority of us have your best interests and your safety at heart.’
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