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How do you know if a repair was done, if you can't see it?

Someone recently posted regarding the possibility she has been told her transmission fluid had been changed when in fact it clearly hadn’t.

Someone answered her saying, along with other comments, “No you know to make sure you get what you pay for”.

Well, if that were easy, I might have X-Ray vision, too. Thye never let you in the actual shop for safety reasons, and the “evidence” they show you is useless and ridiculous. (I watched a Valvoline quick-Lube shop pointedly showing all of us our oil dipsticks after a change, I supposed so we could "see it had enough quarts and the oil was fresh. Like, uh–they could have just wiped it, dipped it in a bucket of clean oil to the right mark–duh!–and stuck it back where it belonged.

Most people either tried nodding like they were giving a wine the okay at a nice restaurant, or said, “What am I supposed to do with that?” when the technician brought the dipstick into the waiting room and silently held it out for the owner to see.

I knew better, and could look for the new filter, etc…but it still didn’t help me figure out if they really did replace my manual transmission oil/fluid.

To the guy who told her “Next time, do your homework”:

How can I tell, Mr. “Glad you learned your sad lesson” whether they changed fluids in a hidden place on my vehicle, and used the right kind? I really have doubts they did, and you can see my post about my Suzuki clutch.

Consider this my homework, will you?

I Have Lived By The “If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself!” Credo For All Of My Adult Life.

It’s part of the “Get off your dead butt and handle it!” philosophy. I read a lot and taught myself what I need to know to get “Get the job done”. I don’t expect others to do what I can do myself. Either that or depend on others to know and do what you should know and do and post questions like this one. It’s self-sufficiency vs. dependence. This doesn’t apply to just cars, either.


You just have to use logic,there just isn’t a lot of money in beating someone out of a oil change. To tell you the truth the most dishonest things I have seen are missed diagnosis that the shop hides and charges the customer again for the real repair and broken parts on cars that the shop says they did not do. Then you get your missing items that people leave in cars, would you belive it if it tell you people pur cars in for service for the whole day with guns left in the car? believe it,and I have seen people come back claiming that the drugs they left in the car are now missing.

But really not much profit in beating someone out of a oil change and if you do it enough to make it profitable your will get caught.

One way my Dealer got gaught over charging was when two people had the exact same repair on the exact same type car and they were charge different,the customers were comparing invoices on the drive,heads rolled.

If you’re really determined, you can verify just about any repair. Old, dirty transmission fluid looks completely different from new transmission fluid. Same goes for engine oil, differential fluid, brake fluid, etc.

The OP you’re referring to never bothered to check. She assumed the work was done. She also assumed it was OK to go to a quick-change oil place. NOT a good idea.

You’ve obviously spent some time in a Valvoline shop. Don’t go back. C’mon, if your dad was a mechanic why are you fooling around with these crappy chain shops. Didn’t he teach you anything?

I always check the work immediately, before leaving the shop. New Fluids are clean and should be the proper level. No fluids shold be dripping from anywhere. New brake pads and discs are visable. Always take a highway cruise to check out new tires.

There are always telltale signs. But you need to check them, immediately, not three months later.

I’m confused, and will try not to be too outrageous here myself: So, that’s why we have specialists in every field?

Let me guess, you repair your own electronics, do your own plumbing, spay your own cat/dog, make your own cheese, loom and sew your own clothes, butcher your own beef, fly your own plane, operate or do dental work on yourself, grow and package your own food of every kind, manufacture your own meds, prescribe them for yourself, and dispense them too? And still have spare time for that oil change or tune-up? Well, why pay anyone, then?

There is a point where one ought to be able to count on someone else knowing SOMETHING one does not, and be able to trust that if they offer that expertise for a price, they will deliver…and they can expect money and respect for their integrity. Meanwhile, I’ll learn a skill, and sell it to you. That’s what free trade is. You don’t have to show me you are a demi-expert yourself or willing to grub around much less skillfully in the same business to prove you deserve my paid assistance!

Sarcasm aside, I know you don’t claim to do all that…but as a nurse, if you even THOUGHT you could do for yourself a fraction of what I could do or teach you to do that you didn’t know you needed to know, I would feel obligated to say, get a grip. I will render services skillfully and compassionately, without expecting you to go to nursing school, or do bedpan duty to show you’re not above that humble aspect. I also don’t think that if you DID learn a lot, it means you deserve better care form me for bothering to learn it. (You’d just be a wiser steward of your own body, to know the basics of self-care.)

What in the world are you thinking?

I’ve heard of a lot of things, including the saving of “old parts” to show the customer, parts that did not actually come from his car (which hadn’t been touched), selling a set of 4 of something and keeping the 3 good ones unnecessarily replaced on the car, purposely damaging something else while doing a less costly repair, and then charging for a supposedly unrelated (now major) subsequent repair, putting in 3 quarts when 4 are required…using old parts off one car to repair another, putting a foreign substance in the oil, gas, etc. to cause a later problem (one they can fix in a minute but claim was something HUGE and time-consuming, because who can prove they didn’t spend time, whereas you can see a new part if it’s in a visible place)…all to generate business.

Thank God this nightmare stuff is not common…I read some and saw it on 20/20 years ago.

What you say makes sense about reputation… but if a fluid is 6 bucks a quart and I just don’t exchange every 3rd car and say I did, or put in 3 qts where 4 are required (choosing the customers with the least savvy and who may expect repairs–older cars–the 25% change could add up to quite a bit over time.

Just a thought. I hope you are right…but I believe mostly all we can do is learn what we can, hope a lot, and punish severely any proven wrongdoing.And most of all, use forums like this one to share what we know and expose the wrongdoing along the way.

where and how do you check the gear oil (or whatever it’s called) on my manual-transmission Suzuki? I feel embarrassed to have not a clue, but where?

I am hearing people say, “God that woman (the acorns thread) is paranoid”, but also, “if you don’t know a lot of this already, you deserve to be cheated.”

And, “If you don’t use your fine neighborhood “indy” shop,then you’re an idiot” and yet some of them are the worst. (Most are better/cheaper than dealerships, but not nearly ALL.)

I want to add that although we who are absolutely dumb about cares probably earn the scorn of the people who “belong” on here, because we know nada/zip (cuz no, Dad’s been gone a long time now),you should hear the things patients ask me about their own bodies or medicines or treatments they’ve read about–it’s often laugh or cry!

I did only go to that shop once…honestly I thought an oil change is so simple that if you have the tools and the coveralls and the time, it can be done very easily so how much could go wrong? Also that they’d have little motivation to lie since they don’t do major repairs or earn kickback referrals…and finally, since I was sitting 15 feet away, they might hesitate to just half-o something. So I often used them for changing oils and filters—nothing else. After the gear oil thing, I never have again.

On the other hand, it takes a whole day without my car to have a shop change the oil…20 minutes at the Quick Lube…and time is money. So is a rental.

Some things are easy to check…others are difficult.

I had a REQUIRED oil change on a new 1980 Datsun Pickup at 6k miles. I had changed the oil myself at 3k…and used a Fram filter. When I picked the truck up it looked like my truck hadn’t moved from when I dropped it off in the morning. I asked if the inspection and oil change were done and they assured me it had. Before I drove out of the lot I opened the hood…and my bright orange Fram filter was plain to see. I asked how that happened…The manager just said…he’d take care of it…I watched them as they did the oil change…LAST TIME I ever dealt with that dealer again.

Those EXTRA money grabbing services like Fuel system cleaning…unless you actually see them perform it…there’s no way of knowing if it was done.

Your making the same mistake, when you say a shop sells a product for $6.00 a quart that they make a profit of $6.00. On a sale of a $6.00 product a shop may make .50 (Ken should help us out here) It takes a lot of shortchanging people at .50 a head to make any real money. You made this same error when you said you made one quarter of a mechanic. Just because the Dealer rate is $125.00 doesn’t mean the mechanic makes anything close to that.

I don’t spend my time on this Forum with the intent of exposing anybody but many people write to the Forum seeking help in exposing somebody or simply bashing mechanics. There you did it you got my defensiveness up.

You can only state things what you have heard is done (I call this “bar banter”) I am telling you what I have seen done.

Our local County Hospital (no longer the County Hospital) changed hands due to a little problem, 2million missing doses of hydrocodone,what’s up with that?

I read the scam as putting in 4 when 3 were required (this is a common truck stop scam as they know you will be long gone when you figure it out) Your reported scam is a quicky lube putting in 3 when the car needs 4 but charging for 4. In any case most people notice a over or under fill (I do believe most people check their oil sometime. I have had plenty of people come back with over or underfill complaints on aircolled VW’s. They did not take exactly 3 (or was it 4?)and you had to estimate the last amount. I never saw the “show them the phony dip stick” scam but that does not mean it does not exist but you would have to get the whole crew in on it.

You know what, I am going to ask to be shown all of this each repair, becuase I need to be shown where to look.

Of course then if it’s not feasible to show me once the car’s off thew lift and I’m not allowed in the shop, then I’ll hear the trust business.

And naturally the mechanics will not appreciate that lack of “trust” or the extra time it takes…especially form women.

But that’s the reality, and so I will ask and if they get irritable, move on. And if I think something is even SLIGHTLY different than I expect, like the stiffness of that clutch, I’ll go back immediately. (Not always feasible, but when I can.)

Thanks to all for your insights.

All the more reason to establish a relationship with one independent mechanic who you have verified as trustworthy. There are a few shops who will let you watch the procedure. My whole family (who live all over Kansas and Missouri) found trustworthy shops, primarily through family/friend recommendations. Failing all else, AAA repair shops have to meet a set of standards to get that designation. Personally, I have had to good fortune to not run into very many dishonest mechanics.

A manual transmission oil and differential oil change are among the hardest items to verify, so this example relies very uch on trust unless you do it yourself. For most car brands, neither the Manual Trans or differential requires changing that often.

Understand your frustration, but finding a quality mechanic and giving him all the work needed should be your priority if you don’t want to go down the DIY lane.


I used to work with recovering alcohol and drug addicts who’d hit bottom, and in the last few years, resorted to all kinds of thievery.

They told me the way to go is to keep it small…so small that it will scarecley be niticed or only after a long time, or will seem so petty that the perosn will be embarrassed to complain. If you’re working in a convenience store, scrape a nickel off every order you ring up…at Sears, a quarter. If someone DOES ask, make a BIG show of “oh, my goodness, I am SO sorry, how could I have…” etc.

That way, nobody checks, nobody notices, nobody wants to bother, and anybody who does will need to overcome feeling petty and picky, and do a lot of lengthy observation to prove it isn’t just slight carelessness.

And, by golly, they are right! How often have you driven away form Hardee’s thinking, isn’t that a nickel short? Let me count, oh, forget it! Who CARES even if they did make a mistake. Same thing when you get a block away and see they left out the napkin and that extra lettuce you wanted. Or the bank balance 2.43 short.

The guy on the shift at the oil-change place who lets his crew skip the “17-point inspection” and window washing on most bvehicles is going to look great when that shift gets more oil chnages done than any other–and if the oil is kept in bulk, shorting everyone half a quart and saying the new oil filter soaked it up wou7ld result in better bottom line there, too–and no way to prove the purposeful shortage. You know–maybe the other shift is spilling some instead!

You said you had a service manual for your Suzuki. READ IT. It will tell you how to check the oil level in your transmission (remove the fill plug and stick your finger into the transmission). I’m not kidding, it’s that simple.

If the oil is clean it’s new. If it’s dirty it’s old. This is not rocket science.

I’m not criticizing you. I don’t care what others say. You need to learn to take care of your vehicle. You can’t count on others to do it for you. You really need to find a good independent mechanic, or dealer, if that’s where you’re more comfortable.

If you’re a nurse you must be reasonably intelligent (I hope). Stop pretending your vehicle is less important than your career. If you can’t drive to work you have no career. You need a reliable vehicle. If you choose to rely on an old Suzuki that’s up to you. But quit complaining. Stop going to crappy shops and big chain stores. You’re making things worse.

Complete and utter nonsense. But maybe this is the way the County Hospital staff made off with those 2 million hydrocodone doses,1 pill at a time.

I Was Referring To How I Overcome Feeling Ripped-Off. Read What I Said.

Wasn’t that the concern up for discussion? “How can I tell, Mr. “Glad you learned your sad lesson” whether they changed fluids in a hidden place on my vehicle, and used the right kind?

I do fly a plane myself, repair my own electronics, do my own plumbing, car repair, electrical work, construction, photography, boat building/repair, etcetera, and that’s a partial list that is still growing.

I don’t manufacture prescriptions, clothing, or grow my own food. However, I don’t worry that I am being short-changed on these goods and services and I don’t have a problem with any of that. I can generally see these things for myself.

I have no desire to be a nurse or to do bedpan duty or learn anything of the sort and I have no concerns or feelings for this field of endeavor at all, nor do I have a desire for many other menial tasks. Some people like this avocation, others don’t.

I do however closely monitor what I observe when I have friends and relatives in Hospitals and am not afraid to bring concerns to the attention of those in charge. Most nurse are dedicated, but I did have to have one removed from caring for my son and another when my father was hospitalized as they weren’t delivering what they were being trusted to do.

The point is that when I have concerns with receiving services that I can’t see or ascertain whether I’ve gotten my money’s worth, I educate myself and when I can, do for myself. I don’t sit by wondering and being mystified. It’s just not my nature.

Again, I wasn’t referring to you when I stated how I operate, but perhaps you gleaned something from it. I’m a firm believer of “Once bitten, twice shy” and it has served me well.

I hate to tell you this. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you may want to consider doing a little homework. You need to step up and be responsible for yourself or you will just remain dependent and wondering.


I forget who it was on this board, but they said they had a custom air filter on their vehicle(cold air intake), and the mechanic, or service writer, came in showing a dirty (normal)air filter saying it need to be changed on their car. When asked to prove it, they got caught with their pants down and his manager had a talk with the guy.

Just like when you’ve got a single floor house and get a call about free estimates on remodeling your basement. My favorite response I’ve heard about that; “If you can find it, I’ll give ya $5000”

Well said.


Do You Really Think Banks Skim A Little Off People’s accounts . . . A Little Here, A Little There . . .?

Do you think most people are dishonest?


While I can’t say I’ve read each and every word of this thread, I think you are making a valid point when you say it is very difficult to determine if the work you paid for was actually done. The more car repair savey you are the easier it is to spot the clues needed to determine if you got the service you paid for.

I do ask to see the old parts and I think I can tell if the old brake rotor came from my car or not, but it would be easy for a shop to show you some generic old parts and many folks would be easily fooled. There is no dipstick to check if your manual transmission fluid, or differential fluid, or transfer case fluid was changed. But you can look at brake fluid, clean coolant in the overflow tank, or fresh oil on the dipstick and a new clean filter is in place.

It becomes a matter of trust to some extent. I look for an independant shop that looks like it has been in business for awhile. Sometimes a shop can be too new and too clean. A little clutter and grease and old furniture in the waiting room may mean this guy has been around awhile. It takes repeat satisfied customers for a good shop to build up their business. Even though I can’t go stand under the car I like a shop where there are windows and I can see what is happening out there. I do use some local chain tire stores (Jack Williams Tire in PA) and while they can try to sell me stuff I don’t need, they do perform the work I pay for. I’m not going to get a motor rebuild there, or a timing belt, but for new tires, oil changes, and state inspections its my first choice.

If you are not comfortable with the shop you are using, try another until you feel you are getting competance, decent value, and good advice. Then stick with the same shop because they get to know you and your car.