Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Are all mechanics crooks?

I was told a certain mechanic in my area was trustworthy.

He wanted to charge over $700 to replace the ball joints on my truck.

I thought this was a bit high but my wife convinced me he was trustworthy.

After getting the truck back in his shop he calls us to inform us that it is leaking radiator fluid and he needed to drop the pan to check it out. Thing is… he wants to charge a thousand dollars to do this… claiming it will take 8 hours work… first of all… $1k for 8 hours really? doesn’t that seem a bit high to anyone else? Second, 8 hours to drop a pan, really… how many coffee breaks involved in that 8 hours?

I have concluded this mechanic is a crook just our to bilk me for more money than this car is worth…

I am planning on writing a review on this mechanic in the mechanics files when I get my truck back.

Are all mechanics crooks like this one?

I am not judging the mechanic or his price, but you can’t just look at the time and cost. You need to consider the overhead (like the cost of the shop, etc. I also suggest that you need to consider that unexpected cost may come up during the work.

Which pan?

Could this eventually turn out to be a possible head gasket failure? It is often best for shops to estimate repairs on the “worst case scenario” and hope that the final bill is far less. That seems preferable to low balling the estimate and then calling repeatedly with added “unexpected” incidental costs.

But there are plenty of crooks turning wrenches.

So an additional 1000 to just drop the pan to sre what’s wrong? Why does he need to drop the pan to look at the radiator? On most cars and trucks you can just pull it out from the top.
Unless he means slid plates but those things just quickly unbolt.

What ball joints need replacing?

Year and model would help.

When you say drop the pan, do you mean the oil pan? Where is it leaking? We need a lot more information.
Depending on what he’s planning to do on the truck it can take a LONG time to pull parts find out what’s wrong and put them back together. And 125 and hour is what the machine/welding shop charged per hour in the 1980’s I used to charge over a $100 to work on computers so a $1,000 for eight hours isn’t unreasonable. Heck the dealer wants to charge almost a $100 to change an air-filter on my car, and it cost me 29.95 and took 10 minuets to change myself does that make the dealer a crook, nope. He’s got a shop, insurance, etc. which I don’t have.
So without more information we can’t say one way or the other.

Are all mechanics crooks?
Some surely are, but…all of them?
Just like all generalizations, this is a dangerous game to play when you try to fit all people from one social class, profession, race, nationality, or religion into one characterization.

As to the issues with the OP’s mystery vehicle, as the old saying goes, The Devil is in the details, and–unfortunately–the details are very sketchy.

In addition to needing to know the particular model, model year, and odometer mileage of this Mazda, we also need to know a few other details such as…
…which “pan” is the one that needs to be dropped?
…have you experienced any symptoms, aside from possibly seeing some coolant on the ground?

If the mechanic is talking about dropping the oil pan, this could be much more than a simple leak from a radiator.

I think a lot more info needs to be provided before any determination can be made as to whether the guy is a crook or not.
The fact that the ball joint job is 700 dollars does not make the guy a crook and it could be that our dislike of that price is affecting your judgement on other things. Some ball joints are part of a control arm and they are not cheap no matter the vehicle type.

Your complaint about the coolant leak is murky to me and it’s impossible to judge that without knowing the details.
Note to others that the radiator is not claimed to be leaking; only radiator fluid is leaking and that could be from anywhere.
Referring to anti-freeze or engine coolant as radiator fluid can point to a lack of mechanical knowledge and this could translate to a lack of understanding and misinterpretation about what is related on a forum. Just saying. :slight_smile:

@k5nhr, the last time I worked at a dealership, the labor rate was $125/hr.
That was almost 4 years ago!

Upper AND lower balljoints?

What pan does he want to drop?
Oil pan?
Transmission fluid pan?
Does he think the engine oil cooler or the transmission cooler are leaking?
Some radiators have an additional cooler built in, typically for the transmission fluid.

What is this guy’s hourly labor rate?
If he works at a shop, the shop is required to inform you what the hourly labor rate is.
If it’s a shop, it should have a prominent sign displayed which clearly states the hourly labor rate.


No. I have worked as an automotive and as a diesel mechanic. I quit my last mechanic job (RV’s) because the owner was unscrupulous.

I think the term “crooks” is bandied about because the cost of labor is high and because untrained technicians take the place of real mechanics in some shops. It’s just a matter of finding the right shop with the right mechanics.

No we are not all crooks. Now a dentist or an accountant…they’re crooks for what they charge… VBG

On what do you base the assertion that your ball joint job was expensive? Did he replace one, two, all 4? Are the joints part of a control arm assembly? Certainly the job included an alignment, was any other repair or maintenance done at the same time?

Give the year make, model of your truck and I’ll tell you what the cost would be where I am, then we can figure if your price was fair.

As for the coolant leak issue, need more info.

I too am having trouble determining if the OP’s description of events makes his mechanic a crook.

When people ask me if a mechanic is good or not, I often reply saying mechanics fall into three categories:

  1. Some are honest & some aren’t.
  2. Some are skilled & some aren’t.
  3. Some charge higher prices than others - for whatever reason.
    I then tell them if they find an honest and skilled mechanic, they should feel fortunate, and stick with them, and don’t complain about prices.

Actually, in my almost 50 years of driving, I’ve never run across a crooked mechanic. A few incompetent ones, but not crooked ones. Not to say they don’t exist but never really found one. Maybe I just know enough to know if they know what they are talking about or not, but sometimes I complain that they charged too little for all the work. I would have to say that my sister has had a problem or two but that’s not unusual for her and it was just hear say on how she got cheated on an engine.

@Bing, I’ve known several crooked mechanics over the years.

I know this for a fact, because I’m thinking of former coworkers over the years.

I’m glad you didn’t run into any of these guys.

I have to say the shops I use are not crooked, sure thieves and rip off artists are out there in every facet of your life. To narrow it to the automobile repairs is unrealistic.

After getting the truck back in his shop he calls us to inform us that it is leaking radiator fluid and he needed to drop the pan to check it out.

I am planning on writing a review on this mechanic in the mechanics files when I get my truck back

Hopefully you invest more time in detailing the facts in your review otherwise you’ll just look like a whiner with no basis for your complaint…

I surmise the OP has had numerous problems with auto repairs and has yet to find a mechanic he trust. I’ve certainly experienced some rip off artists in the auto repair business, but I believe there are honest mechanics and shops out there.

The OP should have declined the extra work and simply gone ahead with the ball joints or even said to leave them alone and he could pick up the truck. He didn’t have to go ahead with the repair. Now he is going to get the truck repaired but not trust that anything was wrong in the first place and he will never be happy about it.

Perhaps the next shop he tries will be good one. When you find a good mechanic, you reward them by bringing them your repeat business and referring your friends.

Now you know why some here do all their own work - besides probably liking working on cars.
If there’s something I’ve never done before, I research it, read about it, ask people, go over it in my mind a hundred times, overthink it, buy whatever tools I may need and just do it.

If you can read, follow directions, have a measure of diligence, know which way to turn a bolt and are able to lay under a car, you are half way to doing what you don’t like like paying mechanics $150 an hour for. That, and on the rare occasion you may need a shop, you will also know when they are being straight with you and when they are trying to take you for a ride.

This stuff isn’t rocket science. Buy some tools, start small with oil changes and work your way up.

If the mechanic did not contact you before he did anymore work than what was contracted for…yes, he was being less then honest. You fix what you asked to have fixed then give the customer the option of going somewhere else or staying with you. Even the dealership I go to often will do that. If this mechanic told you ahead of time what had to be done, additionally, you need to ask for an estimate then.

Yes there are some crooked mechanics, just like every profession. A while ago, I called a HVAC tech to my house because my furnace burner flame was only burning about one half of the area it should be. This guy had me convinced I had a crack in my burner and needed a new furnace, although he couldn’t show me any crack. But he refused to relight the pilot saying he didn’t want to be responsible if there was an accident. While I was waiting for another HVAC company to get a second opinion, I thought I should try to blow any dust off the burner on the remote chance that’s all it was. Guess what? That fixed my problem! Furnace has worked perfectly ever since. Either this guy was incredibly stupid or he was only trying to make a buck off an unsuspecting mark. I think some auto mechanics will prey on people who they believe are easy marks and others are good, honest, hard working and truely believe in taking care of customers and only charge fair prices, and only change parts needed. Unfortunately some people stereotype and we all get a bad rep due to the actions of a few.

@RemcoW, this is in reference to “paying a mechanic $150 an hour”

Most mechanic will be lucky to see 1/5th of that.

Where do the other 4/5ths go? Well . . . I think the other guys already called it overhead and operating costs.

Think about it. The mechanics themselves aren’t getting rich off of the customers.