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Prevent Automotive Repair Fraud and Save Money

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/27/2007 | Auto and Trucks

Too many automotive centers are taking advantage of the consumer's lack of knowledge about their automobile or truck. While there are many trustworthy shops that do honorable and reliable work, there are always places that just take the consumer's money while not making the necessary repairs, if they do any work at all.

The government and press are trying to intervene, and while some shops are getting caught and being indicted with fraud, too many shops are still doing it, and getting away with it. Most likely you have seen the headlines about automotive repair shops being indicted with fraud because they lied or cheated their customers in one way or another.

Here are some tips on how to be better educated about your automobile so that when you go into a shop for repairs, you will know what to say and more important, what you should look for when the vehicle is in the shop.

The most important thing is to go to a reputable place of work. Ask your family or friends where they have their vehicles repaired. Ask them why they like the shop, what their fees are, and how long they have been using that particular place. Just doing a little homework and research will save you a lot of headaches and money.

When you take your vehicle to the shop of your choice, be very specific in what you want done. For example, if you need tires, let them know you are in there just for tire work. If the service advisor tells you that you need other work done, do not be afraid to ask why it is needed. For example, if he is trying to sell you a tune-up, and all you asked for was tires that should raise a red flag right away. There is really no reason for the mechanic to look underneath the hood when the vehicle is in there only for tires.

The service advisor may tell you that you need brakes or that you have leaks, both of which can be relatively easily spotted when the vehicle is in the air and the wheels are off the vehicle. Ask the advisor for measurements of components that are worn, such as the brakes, and ask if you can take a look for yourself. If they will not give a measurement or they will not allow you to view the problem, do not have them repair it. As a matter of fact, do not let them do any work and take your vehicle somewhere else. Most reputable shops have no problems with these requests.

If you need major repairs, such as engine replacement or transmission replacement or an overhaul, always get a second opinion from another reputable shop. If you have built up a good relationship with your existing shop, this may not be necessary. But if this is the first time you have brought your vehicle to a new shop, you really need to get that second opinion, even if it takes just a phone call. Sometimes it is not practical to have your vehicle towed from one shop to another, and then back again to the original shop.

By being a knowledgeable consumer, you can save yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars on car repair costs over the years. It is not cheap to maintain your vehicle these days, so make sure to do your homework when it comes to finding a good shop so that you do not become a victim of automotive repair fraud.