5 Common Auto Shop Scams You Need To Know About: Protect Your Wallet and Save Thousands

Portrait Shot of a Handsome Mechanic Working on a Vehicle in a Car Service. Professional Repairman is Wearing Gloves and Using a Ratchet Underneath the Car. Modern Clean Workshop.

Whenever my cars break down, it's always inconvenient, and I feel like I have to shield my wallet from damage. It's not enough that I'm out of a ride; I have to fork over my savings, my spare time, and get a rental simultaneously. The worst thing that could happen is finding out that the mechanic I chose was untrustworthy and scammed me out of money. Talk about a nightmare!

American Trucks recently conducted a survey and found that thousands of individuals have been ripped off by an auto mechanic shop, resulting in significant financial loss. And these mechanics have shared their tips on avoiding these scams so that you can save your wallet and your car. 

In the survey by American Trucks, over half of the individuals reported losing almost $1,000 due to unnecessary or fraudulent repairs. Sadly, 56% of these victims thought their lack of knowledge led them to be easy targets. 

The solution to this is simple– drivers have to educate themselves on common car scams and standard car maintenance requirements so they can ensure that these things don't happen to them.

Common Scams Exposed

So, without further ado, here are the five most common scams that car owners should be aware of: 

False Diagnoses

Nearly 39 percent of respondents reported having been falsely diagnosed with issues. Mechanics told them that their car had problems that it did not have and then charged them for the false repair. These reported that incorrect diagnoses cost them an average of $1,167. 

Overcharging for Parts and Labor

Many were overcharged for parts and labor, meaning that mechanics charged above and beyond the average price for a part because they knew the customer would not know any better. These reports claimed that they lost around $1,000 each.

Phantom Repairs

On the flip side of false diagnosis, phantom charges are when customers are charged for never-completed repairs. Fifteen percent of participants experienced phantom repairs, costing them an average of $1,200.

Bait and Switch

Bait and switch is when a customer is quoted one price and then forced to pay more once the work is complete. This leaves the customer with no choice but to pay, especially if they didn't get the quote in writing. 

Parts Substitution

When you get a part replaced, you expect to get a new part to replace it. However, 11% of respondents said they fell victim to parts substitution when they paid for new parts but used or low-quality parts were put on their cars. This costs victims anywhere from a reported $1,100 to $1,300. 

How To Avoid Falling Victim?

American Trucks recommends two main things:

Get Multiple Opinions

  1. Don't just settle with the first diagnosis.
  2. Find second and third opinions before committing to a repair.
  3. Get estimated costs in writing, and research average repair costs to ensure you get a good deal. 

Educate Yourself

If you're a car owner, it will be beneficial to have a reasonable idea of how your car works. Learn common repairs, average costs, and popular scams that you may encounter. Knowledge is power!

Managing Editor of Autos at Wealth of Geeks | Website | + posts

Research journalist, Freelance writer, Managing Editor

  • Expertise: automotive content, trending topics.
  • Education: LeTourneau University, Bachelors of Science in Business Administration.
  • Over 400 articles and short news pieces published across the web.

Experience: Madison Cates is a journalist located in the great state of Texas. She began writing over eight years ago. Her first major research piece was published by the Journal of Business and Economics in 2018. After growing up in a household of eight brothers and a dad who was always restoring old Camaros, she naturally pivoted her freelance career into the automotive industry. There, she found her passion.

Her experience paved the way for her to work with multiple large corporations in automotive news and trending topics. Now, she now finds her home at Wealth of Geeks where she proudly serves as Managing Editor of Autos. Madison is always down to geek out over the latest beautiful cars on the market, and she enjoys providing her readers with tips to make car ownership easier and more enjoyable.