The relationship between a driver and their mechanic is often a difficult one. Your mechanic is meant to be an expert in what they do, so you should be able to trust them. But how do you know that your mechanic isn’t trying to overcharge you?
It turns out there are plenty of things your mechanic doesn’t want you to know, and we’re going to spell out some common misconceptions.
You Don’t Need an Oil Change Every 3,000 Miles
When you visit your mechanic for an oil change, you’re guaranteed to get a little sticker placed on your windshield scheduling your next visit in 3,000 miles. It’s one way for mechanics to keep you coming in. In reality, mileage intervals between oil changes recommended by manufacturers range from 5,000 miles on average up to 7,500 and higher.
How often you need an oil change is dependent on how you use your car, not the word of your mechanic. Newer cars come equipped with digital oil indicators so you know exactly when it’s time for an oil change.
Air Filters and Wiper Blades are Very Easy to Check and Replace Yourself
While you’re getting your oil changed, two common car “problems” pointed out by your mechanic will be a dirty air filter and worn wiper blades. What you mechanic won’t tell you is that neither has to be replaced that often. Air filters last about 20,000 miles while wiper blades require changing once a year.
And when they do need to be replaced you don’t need a mechanic to do the job. Air filters are prominently marked under the hood, and getting to it only takes a few snaps. Buy a cheap one at an auto store and slide it right in. The same goes for the wiper blades, which typically just pop into place.
You Don’t Need to Flush Money Down the Drain with a Transmission Flush
If you receive regular car maintenance like oil changes, then transmission flushes are not necessary. And don’t trust a mechanic that insists otherwise. Newer vehicles are built with longer-lasting parts and computerized monitoring systems, making transmission flushes near obsolete.
Instead with a transmission flush you risk harming your car by placing too much pressure on your system. That is why most manufacturers recommend against the service.
Labor Hours Charged are Looked Up in a Book
Do you really believe mechanics work with a stop watch to time themselves while fixing your vehicle so they can accurately charge you for labor hours?
Instead, they follow a labor standards guide to see how long a specific repair generally takes to complete. And if they finish early? You still get charged for the standard labor hours. On average, that’s $79 an hour.
That New Part Just Might Be Your Old One
One of the oldest tricks in a dishonest mechanic’s playbook is charging you for replacing a part, but actually doing nothing at all. Since the average driver can’t tell the difference between a carburetor and the steering wheel, plenty of auto shops get away with this scam.
But you do have a legal defense against such a scam. Simply ask for the used part – it is of course, still yours.
You Can Ask to See the Problem
You don’t have to just take your mechanic’s word for it, you have the right to ask to see the problem. And you also have the right to get a second opinion. So if your mechanic recommends replacing a part that appears to operate properly and looks to be in good condition, take your car to someone else.
Certificates Can Mean as Much as Clown College Degrees
You may be impressed by your mechanic’s ASE certificate, given by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, but it doesn’t ensure a great repair job or that your car will be worked on by a certified technician. Even though an ASE certification requires two-years of experience on the job and passing a rigorous standardized exam, a mechanic doesn’t need one to get hired at a repair shop.
In fact, most shops also hire non-certified technicians. Of those mechanics with ASE certificates, only 33% attained them in all categories: brakes, engines, electrical systems, and air-conditioning and heating.
Conclusion: Know Your Car
The unfortunate reality is that mechanics make money off your mechanical ignorance. While all mechanics certainly are not dishonest, it’s easy for them to make a quick buck from what you don’t know. Your best bet is to learn about your car as much as possible to avoid the cost of a dishonest mechanic.