Car repairs can be expensive, as anyone who owns a car knows. But with such high bills at stake, we are scared of the prospect of paying for repairs we don’t need, or in other words, getting ripped off by mechanics because we don’t know as much about our vehicles as they do. The good news is that most mechanics are not out to cheat you. They are out to build a reputation and a loyal customer base. But the few that take the opportunity to wring extra money out of a car owner are enough to scare all of us. If you aren’t inclined to learn car repair yourself, you should at least know what red flags to look for at a car repair shop.
Scare tactics can be a big, billowing red flag — especially if they’re accompanied by a long list of repairs or an expensive price tag. If the mechanic says you shouldn’t even drive the car home, or you’re fortunate it’s still running, or you’re lucky to be alive, or whatever, you might be reasonably suspicious, especially if you’re the type who services your ride fairly regularly.
The caveat in these instances, though, is for people who don’t regularly service their car. When that car finally develops a problem, or they need to take it in for something, there’s — duh — a greater chance that something major might actually be seriously wrong. “If you haven’t done anything to your car in two years, it probably is dangerous to drive!” Ibbotson points out. “I know people who don’t do anything to their car, and then 18 things are broken, and they go, ‘Why does it cost so much money to fix?’”