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It is just me or do 99.9% of mechanics try to rip you off in some way? Even if it's small. At least where I live they do this.. especially to women who know zip about cars.
Anyone else experience this?

My family has been ripped off for thousands by shady mechanics.

Upstate NY Mechanics get a 1 out of 10 on my scale. 1 being worst, 10 being best.

Recently I started learning about cars so I can do the basic stuff myself so I don't end up getting ripped off.

Don't even get me started with car dealers.......
 

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2015 Outback 2.5 Premium
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Yes they do, at least that's been my experience as well. If you want the job done right do as much as you can yourself. Even the mechanics in service departments at the dealerships do marginal work. Oil changes, Tire Rotations, Air filter, Cabin Filter, Spark Plugs, Transmission Service you can do yourself. I don't trust any of them and never will. You can never get a simple oil change without them Trying to up sell, even after I tell them don't bother checking any filters because I just changed them, they still insist on doing it.
 

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2006 WX8: my "Outback" > yours
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Same as doctors, lawyers etc. In any occupation it's the best ones who set the standard, and by definition, they are always in the minority.
 

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2002 Outback Wagon 2.5L Auto Weather Package
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Define 'rip off'.
Upsell? All the time, most of them.
Overcharge/unreasonable rates? Lots, but probably not even the majority.
Recommend unnecessary services? Sort of like an upsell, but with truly zero benefits, and an unfortunate number do, but again, probably not the majority.
Charge for fake services, or perform work not needed? I'm sure there's some out there, and they stand out.

The problem in automotive service is usually the service writers, and in the dealership the owners and sometimes the service managers. They make more money if they can sell you more work. Some might be preventative, non-critical, upselling to more costly parts or services, or worse. The techs would just assume do whats really needed, so long as they can do it at or under the billable hours. The problem in general for shops is that repairs pay narrower margins than the extra services.

I worked at a dealership and two independent shops. The dealership was the worst really, because they would try to sell you wiper blades like your car was going to explode if they weren't replaced. I convinced one service writer to schedule people for callbacks in 2-3 mos. based on brake wear, instead of writing in my inspection tickets that 25% material remaining meant 'replace it now or you'll DIE'. At the independent shops, I saw more honest service writers, although it certainly wasn't the rule.

The best way I can suggest you can tell if work recommended is really needed is if the service writer AND tech want to show you what's wrong. That usually means what you need could kill you.
 

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'07 OBXT Ltd. 5EAT, Charcoal Gray; '70 Chevy K10 4X4, 396c.i., lifted; '63 Pontiac Tempest, 326c.i.
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It's a tough business. I managed a car shop for a few years while I was in school. I now completely understand where they're coming from.

First off, yes, a lot are crooks. And I won't speak for them. But for the rest of us - here are some things to think about: 1. If the shop pays technicians flat rate, that's the main way the shop makes money. The markup on parts is pretty small. So that $45 light bulb change probably took the guy about a half hour of labor. Out of that labor charge goes money to pay the HEFTY insurance, rent, overhead, labor, etc. So, for small jobs, do it yourself. For big jobs, take it to those guys because it will seem "more fair." 2. When you have a huge liability issue, all it takes is for one person to sue you straight. Trust me, being in that position is pretty scary. So I always taught my technicians to use their head, and when in doubt, recommend the part. If you mis-diagnose by NOT recommending a new part to replace that shoddy part, you can (and probably will) get sued. I've seen it happen several times. But when you mis-diagnose by recommending a new part to replace an OK part, you've erred on the side of caution. This is really hard to explain, so until you are in this position, it is pretty hard to put yourself in those shoes.

Again, it doesn't excuse the downright shysters, but also, not all is as it may seem. For yourself and your family, find that one mechanic and/or shop that you can trust. It starts with top-down management - in every single case.
 

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'07 OBXT Ltd. 5EAT, Charcoal Gray; '70 Chevy K10 4X4, 396c.i., lifted; '63 Pontiac Tempest, 326c.i.
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I just read Euchre's post above my last one and he brought up a good point - upsell vs. preventative maintenance vs. critical problems. A good shop will ALWAYS document which category the recommendations fall into.
 

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As a rule, I generally take my vehicle for service and repairs to the dealer I purchase from. While definitely not the cheapest, I've found that like many things in life, it is all about building relationships and while they can take time and effort, they can pay dividends in the end. While there is no shortage of crooks, shoddy workmanship and the like, I find it perplexing that more people don't take ownership of at least making some sort of attempt at being informed about things in their life. An auto is a fairly substantial investment for most people yet in all likely-hood, I'm guessing that the majority of car owners rarely if ever crack the owner's manual but squeal like a stuck pig when they get "ripped off". Yes, the dealer is about up-selling due to the expense of staying open but when the managers come into the waiting room and convince people their wiper blades need changed (and they probably DO need changing) and they are on special this week for $69.99 with FREE installation and the slack-jawed customer noddingly replies"OK"......well....that's on you Joe Blow. People....youz gotz to do SOME of the homework! Generally my experience has been if you are reasonably informed or ask questions nicely and intelligently, your shop will treat you with respect and see that you are satisfied. If you aren't, you are not going to come back. Then how can they practice selling in-cabin air filters for $89.99? :)
 

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It's shocking what goes on out there.....recently had a CV boot replaced on both cars that happened to go at the same time.

Called the place next to my office and has this conversation for the '02.

"What do you get for replacing an inner passenger side CV boot on an 02 Outback?"
tap tap tap on a keyboard
"That's $316"
"OK thanks"
Since I was very clear on what I asked for I didn't bother to go any further.

Then called the Subaru specialist that's a bit less convenient to get to.
Their reply to the same question;
"If it's just the boot, about $130 and $180 if the axle is needed"
He went on to explain a little further, and he got my business on the 02 and 06. Both cars cost less than one 'quote' at the other place.

Basically, I called around and saved a bunch of money. Most people would have stopped at the first call and said "well, I guess that's what it costs". I'm always stunned when I talk to people who do not spend 5 minutes making the extra 2-3 calls.
 

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I suppose this is why my post looking for a referral to competent, trustworthy mechanic on Long Island got zero replies. They must be as scarce as hen's teeth. I want my spark plugs changed on my '09 H6 but am apprehensive about trying it myself. The dealer wants $250 which I feel is worth it. I just keep thinking in the back of my head they won't bother with one or two PITA plugs.
 

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While there are always going to be shady characters I don't think it's fair to call mechanics crooks. It's the shop owners and dealership service managers that take advantage of people. The mechanic simply fixes what he's been instructed to fix.

The nature of the beast is profit and there are two sides to the profiting from auto work coin. You have your independent shops that are notorious for performing unnecessary work whether they're asked to or not. They often take the gypsy (sorry gypsies) approach and do things without being asked and try to get you to pay for it. This is baffling to me since their integrity is what generates business.

The dealerships are the yin to the independent shop's yang. They start out with already expensive parts and tack on expensive labor. Does your car need what they say it needs? They approach it from the "If you're going to do it, do it all." standpoint and while the service performed may benefit in adding longevity to your vehicle's life span it's frequently not necessary do as much as they do.

Then there's Jiffy Lube. Those guys can die in an oil fire. $60 for a radiator cap replacement???
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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Its not necessarily the service writers all the time. Some service writers I've met don't know the first thing about automobile mechanics and engineering and base their "sale" on what the technician gives them after a look over. These guys are just mouth pieces. They try to make you feel good about spending your paycheck.

The technicians that examine the car will add unnecessary repairs to up their billable hours just as much as a SM. Especially if its been a slow week and pay is flag hours.

Then you have what I've attached. The small shop with stupidity, ignorance or just plain dumb. There is JB Weld under the duct tape. (This truck needed a lot due to poor repair practices, $2000, starting with an unavailable part from Ford (throttle body spacer) which means salvage searching. The owner took it back to where she bought it 3 months ago, which also happens to be the shop that did the "repair", for a proper repair or replacement vehicle.)

Get references. That's the best way to insure you are dealing with an honest tech or SM.
 

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A region will have various prices for jobs like the CV boot set by the region. For example $300 for a boot replacement is pretty standard pricing for all the Dealers and indi shops around here. There will always be the one guy who is hungry for work and will under cut the others on the price but he may be hungry for work for a reason.

A good topic for this forum would be how do you avoid getting fleeced by a shop?

There are a few steps you can take to avoid getting over charged for things.

#1 NEVER EVER AS IN EVER ask for a Mileage based service package!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
^ This is the first indication that the shop can jack the prices up 300%

#2 Always ask for the parts costs and try to negotiate the parts costs down...... Every shop I've ever had work on my cars have been willing to reduce parts costs when I bring it up. Anywhere from 10% to 35% depending on how expensive and big the part item is. A small gasket is cheap to start with so mark up might be very small. Brake pads on the other hand you can usually get 15-20% knocked off of them just by asking.

#3 Only do maint that your car actually calls for in the owners manual don't spend dollar after dollar on services your car does not need! Your wasting money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Read your owners manual!!!!!!!!

Just doing those few things I've listed can save you thousands of dollars over a 10yr period on vehicle servicing fees and costs.
 

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2012 limited, white, no moonroof or nav
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Something I learned as a maintenance stupidvisor, (Not automotive, but it translates) is that quite often, the mechanic causes more damage than the original problem. Sometimes, the original issue is misidentified, so that repair accomplishes nothing. Or, the mechanic breaks something, either out of frustration, or just clumsiness. So, you may go in with one problem, but wind up with 4 or 5 repairs.

A good diagnostician is worth a lot.......They can save you a bunch of unnecessary work. Most really good ones, it seems to be almost innate. It is not usually possible to teach someone who does not have the "Knack". Just sayin'.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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A good diagnostician is worth a lot.......They can save you a bunch of unnecessary work. Most really good ones, it seems to be almost innate. It is not usually possible to teach someone who does not have the "Knack". Just sayin'.
No joke there. I could go through 20 mechanics to find 1 good tech. I don't trust anyone elses diagnostics. They are usually wrong or miss the small stuff.
 

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There are also shops, where you can bring your own parts (bought cheap on website or junk yards) and have the shop just install those. I have been doing that for years. There are not that many of those but they exist. For example, TireRack has what they call "recommended installers" in just about any part of the country. I found out that most of those shops will do work and install stuff/parts that you buy elsewhere on the website...large items/parts can be drop-shipped to these shops (same as TireRack wheels and tires are drop-shipped there) and they will just do the installation.
 
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