Five Common Repair Shop Scams - Don't Fall for Them

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Most of us don’t know about car repair, which is why we have to take our car to a repair shop. Unscrupulous shops will take advantage of your ignorance and charge you for things you don’t need. Here are five common repair shop scams to avoid.

3,000-Mile Oil Change
Perhaps the biggest scam in car maintenance is the oil change. Quick-change shops like Jiffy Lube encourage you to return every 3,000 miles for an oil change, even offering a discount if you make it in sooner. Car repair shops will also bill you for an oil change just about every time they work on your car. The reality is that while 3,000 miles may have been the correct number in the past, now most cars can go at least 7,500-10,000 miles between oil changes. Check your owner’s manual for your car’s exact estimate, and don’t be fooled - you do not need an oil change any sooner than that.

Dirty Fuel Injectors
Another scam repair shops like to run is telling you that your fuel injectors need to be cleaned, and they often say you should get your fuel injectors cleaned every 15,000-20,000 miles. You don’t. Once again, it was a necessity a long time ago, but no longer. Now gasoline has a special detergent in it that keeps your fuel injectors cleaned. More accurately, you should have your fuel injectors cleaned or replaced every 35,000 miles at the earliest - going a little longer is fine, too.

Common Repair Shop Scams

Additional Repairs
Does it seem like every time you take your car in to get one problem fixed, you end up paying to fix several more issues that the repair shop discovered? Many times those additional repairs are scams; they’re only trying to get more money out of you. To avoid paying for unnecessary repairs, do not be afraid to take your car somewhere else for a second opinion. If a repair shop tries to pressure you to fix it immediately, don’t let them push you around. Those additional repairs might not truly be necessary, and you only need to get them fixed immediately if they pose a safety threat.

Old or Aftermarket Parts
Whenever you get new parts in your car, be careful to find out exactly what you’re paying for, and then check to make sure that’s really what was installed. Repair shops may charge you for brand new parts and really use old ones, or they may charge you for manufacturer parts and really use aftermarket ones. There is nothing necessarily wrong with aftermarket parts, and even some used parts can do the job, but you want to get what you pay for. Check out new parts for wear or a brand name listed, and ask the repair shop to show you the parts if you’re unsure where to find them.

Dirty Air Filter

Many shops will tell you that you need to replace your car’s air filter, and they’ll even show you a dirty-looking filter. That filter may actually be a prop used to convince you to buy the new air filter, but you really don’t need one any sooner than every 15,000 miles.


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D. Nelson
About the Author:

D. Nelson repairs carpet damage in auto upholstery and interiors.

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