Sometimes you need to replace the entire exhaust system when something is wrong. But other times, a simple repair will cover it. If you fail an emissions test because of a hole in your exhaust, you should be going the other direction if you hear words like "entire," "whole," or "system. Some greedy mechanics will exaggerate how serious a problem is in order to get you to make a repair, even if it doesn't really have to be fixed right away.
You may have a power steering pump, for example, that has started making some noise and will need to be replaced down the road.
But that pump might last for a long time before it eventually fails. Even worse, a shady mechanic may point out a problem that doesn't really exist! A really thing to do is to show you how 'dirty' your fluids or air filters have become.
If something looks dirty, it doesn't mean it's time to replace. Some also point out how freely certain things on your vehicle with bearings spin, such as wheel hubs or pulleys attached to belts, when compared to a new one. But the new ones always have a fair amount of resistance until they are installed and have a chance to break in. Unfortunately, some genuinely trustworthy mechanics will exaggerate a legitimate problem in order to convince a skeptical vehicle owner that the problem really does exist. When in doubt, get a second opinion! Accidents happen, from tiny scratches to large dents.
Even the people who are being paid to fix your car can sometimes damage it accidentally.
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Trustworthy mechanics will inform you about all such incidents when they notice them. Ideally, they will examine the vehicle with you before and after a repair. Dealerships are often better about this than independent shops because they want you happy to both come back for service and to buy your next car. Sometimes it is hard to know whether damage happened at the shop unless you examine your car closely.
But a mechanic who is trying to pass the buck on damage that couldn't have happened anywhere other than in the shop is obviously one to avoid.
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If a mechanic or shop personnel tell you that something is complicated to understand or that you wouldn't necessarily understand, run away. Some shady mechanics know that you know absolutely nothing about your car, and prey on it.
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First, you should always get a written estimate for any repair, which lists the labor and parts costs. But when costs go up significantly, something is wrong and you should start looking for another mechanic. It's possible the shop quoted a price for the wrong part or service, did not anticipate a related service, or made some other mistake. In these cases, most good shops will honor the original estimate at a loss to get your repeat business.
Other times they will give you an option to approve a new estimate and offer some other compensation or discount for the error. But the problem comes after you approve an estimate and the cost goes up when you show up to pay. Some shady mechanics will even quote you the price for one part only to install a cheaper generic part in its place. This typically isn't a problem in dealerships, but it can happen anywhere. It's hard to spot the switch unless you or another mechanic can examine the part.
manage a mechanic
Zach Mason, service manager at Advanced Autowerks in San Francisco and a former dealership employee, requires his staff to hone their skills regularly. Independent mechanics have no loyalty to the manufacturer, as dealerships must. Our promise times absolutely have to be met. Our word has to be our bond.
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Dealerships can offer manufacturer-backed warranties and check for the latest repair and recall bulletins. Dealership service departments have that brand-name power. They can offer manufacturer-backed extended warranties and check for the latest repair and recall bulletins every time you bring in your car. But if you stay with the dealership, be prepared for slightly higher prices.
In Chicago, consumers have certain rights when it comes to working with an auto repair shop outlined in the Chicago Municipal Code. Chapter Call to file a complaint or file an online complaint here.
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Skip to Main Content. Toggle navigation. Our Safety. Consumers are entitled to the following: A written estimate for repair work.
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Read your estimate carefully! A detailed invoice of work done and parts supplied. Return of replaced parts, excluding warranty and exchange parts, if requested in writing at the time a work order is placed. The right to inspect the vehicle before payment.
The right to state in writing any problem you notice which is directly related to the repair work performed.
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