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Shops seem to changing for the worse, from fixing cars to selling repairs

We’ve been lately getting far too many posts of people bringing their cars in for one thing and getting handed a list of totally unrelated work, much of it “revenue generators”.

I helped a distressed friend Monday who had taken a car in for a timing belt and water pump change and was told the car also needed rear brakes, rear struts, sway bar bushings, and a long list of other repairs unrelated to the timing belt change. Also, without their ever having removed a single bolt they told my friend new cam seals, crank seal, distributor seal, and a host of other seals and gaskets needed changing because it was leaking everywhere (it is not). I’m doubt if they ever even lifted the hood. There are no wet spots or crud buildup anywhere on the engine. I looked. Besides, my friend had stepped out for coffee, returned within 5 minutes of the call (we were on the phone the whole time) and the car was still in the parking spot on the lot.

Has the economic recession changed the world into a less honest place? What say you all.

It does seem like if a car goes in for service, that at least $1000.00 dollars worth of stuff is written up, and a lot of it is BS.

This is where customer knowledge is power. “Just say NO”

They will always try to “up-sell” ( “ya want fries with that ?” ) whether it be the car shop , the resaurant, the amusement park, or the electronics store.

At the car shop stick to your budget and intended repair.
When they tell you of potential repairs simply remind them you’re on a budget, any more than that they will not get paid, and you’ll consider them when the time comes. That’s when you can seek out your second opinion if needed.

I begin with the fact that "I know my old truck needs a long list of work done but today you’re only going to do X "

A considerate shop will graciously allow you to choose.

I like that opening statement. I’ll suggest it to my friend.

I find it easy to say “no” to people, but not everyone does. People avoid conflict. The scammers count on it.

Granted, there are some dishonest and pushy shops but I don’t think this applies to the majority.

In the case of your friend it does sound like they were throwing a lot of mud against the wall and hoping all or most of it stuck.

The other side of the coin is this. When a car is on the rack for an oil change and front brakes for example it is quite common for a tech to look the car over for other needed repairs.
A good tech can spot a lot of problems that a non-mechanically minded car owner may not be aware of and can do this in a very short period of time.

What’s the tech to do? Change the oil, repair the brakes, and not advise the car owner of 2 failing ball joints, split CV boots, leaking oil pressure sender, etc?

A few years back I had a guy bring a late 80s Mustang GT/5.0 to me for a suspension repair. Looking the car over I found about a dozen things that urgently needed to be repaired; not the least of which was some rotten fuel lines.
He did not want the repairs and I advised him to NOT drive this car and tow it home for repair because it was a fire hazard due to the fuel lines. I even volunteered to help him tow it for free.

Of course, he refused to tow it (“it’s only about 6 blocks”) after 5 minutes of arguing and when he hit the key the line split and it went up in flames. The only thing that saved the car was the fact that I was walking towards the fire extinguisher while he was headed for his car. It was like sitting on a hill watching 2 trains go around the bend. You could see this one coming.

That’s the flip side of the coin anyway.

I guess this is where instead of saying “no”, you say “show me”

Yes, it’s too bad, all the new tech has created a whole new set of unneeded services. But nothing really new. I read a survey done 20+ years ago - magazine loosened one spark plug wire, went to something like 100 repair shops, about 80 recommended hundreds of dollars of unneeded work.

And yes, ‘just say no’ is fine, but most folks don’t know enough to do it. I think a shop has a responsibility to be honest. Pushing unnecessary work is not honest. I go to two shops that have not pushed stuff, quit going to two (quicky lube and the Lexus dealer) that did push stuff.

I hope he didn’t accuse you of sabotaging the Mustang, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

I’ve been going to the same mechanic since 93 and before that a Father and son team in Philly. If my mechanic says the car needs a repair, I tell him to go ahead and do it. I just hope he’s not retiring any time soon. I guess I’m lucky.

Ed B.

It is so easy to fix things that don’t need repair. The success rate is a lot better and the repairs that are faked are the easiest of all and the most profitable. It gets bad when functioning things are damaged by unneeded repairs.

No, he did not blame me or even get irritated with me. He was kicking himself for this episode; as he should have.
Since I had gone for the fire extinguisher after handing the keys over, the damage was confined to burnt plug wires and distributor cap, some misc. wiring, etc.

Having sat in a waiting room a couple times for much too long while a shop is doing their 28 point safety check when the car was brought in for a tire replacement I now tell the service writer in advance that they are not authorized to check anything on my car. They are authorized to do the repair I ask for and are forbidden to do or touch anything else.

I don’t think this is new by any stretch of the imagination and has nothing to do with the current economy. It goes back many, many years. It’s just salesmanship.

OK4450, I see and understand your point. And appreciated the illustration via a true story.

In my case there were some “red flags”, such as the fact that the car never seemed to move from the parking spot, and they clearly didn’t have time to have removed anything to look…or even to put it on the rack…and their description of the engine leaking everywhere was just plain bogus. And why were they checking th rear brakes and rear sway bar bushing when they were suppose dto change the timing belt?

I saw posts the day I posted that were describing revenue generators and, having seen one too many, it just seemed to be getting out of control. The shop in my post used to be straight shooters. They’ve changed.

I had to get it off my chest.


ABSOLUTELY. That’s what I do too. You have to.

I think the answer is that there used to be a lot of things to repair,now all we have are things to service so the shift is natural,blame the manufacture for making cars that don’r eat #3 exhaust valves any more.