Do you trust your mechanic?

United States
December 31, 2008 7:54am CST
There's a mechanic shop right down the road from us. My hubby's family has been going to him for like 20 years now. Before we moved out here we used to go to one of hubby's friends who owned a shop, and he'd usually give us a deal, like we'd just have to pay for parts and we'd get free labor, or we'd pay half the labor. But that guy is on the other side of town. So for the past couple years we've been going to the guy down the road. He doesn't offer us any deals, but hubby always thought he did. Hubby always told me a regular mechanic would want to fix a lot more, and this guy only told us exactly what needed to be done and that's all he charged us for. Well, my inspection was up on my van back during the summer. We brought the van to the shop down the road to get it inspected, and the guy told us I needed a new head gasket before it could be inspected. He said he'd do it for $1200!! Well we didn't have that kind of money, so I kept driving the van without the inspection, waiting for us to have the money. Then one of hubby's co workers said he knew a guy who would do it for $400. This guy works at a shop, so he knows what he's doing, but he was going to do it after hours to save us some money. So we came up with the $400 and sent the van to him this past weekend. He calls us up the next day and says there's absolutely nothing wrong with the head gasket, he doesn't even see how anyone would come up with that idea. He says there's some other problem with it, that isn't nearly as difficult or expensive. It's something above the head gasket, that would be changed if you replace the head gasket anyways, but no reason not to just change this one thing. So he kept the $400, fixed that problem, gave the car a tune up, inspected it, and even cleaned the entire thing inside and out. He even picked it up from us and dropped it off to us when he was done. I didn't have to lift a finger. But now I'm wondering about the guy down the road. Did he make a mistake? Would he have changed the head gasket anyways and still charged us $1200, or did he know the head gasket was fine and he just wanted some extra money? Has your mechanic ever tried to over charge you for something your car didn't actually need? Did you catch him on it?
6 responses
@jesssp (2742)
• Canada
31 Dec 08
I work at a dealership so I would like to have faith in all mechanics, but the fact is that some are great and some are slime. And some just plain are not good at their job. There are also things that are hard to diagnose and sometimes the wrong thing gets fixed before the root of the problem is discovered (but head gaskets are generally not one of those things!). A good shop will give you a break on the price if that happens. I think that if you have a vehicle that isn't on warranty and you find someone you trust that will do work on the side then you should stick with him. And yes, the other shop most likely would've changed the gasket anyway and taken your $$.
• United States
31 Dec 08
I once went to this mechanic who was a very dear friend of my dad's. I figured there was no way he would $cr^w me over. I was working a delivery job and putting lots of miles on my car, but it seemed my car had to go into the shop on a weekly basis, and it was always something expensive. I just went along, figuring I could trust this guy, never questioned it. Then one day my brother says to me that he had to stop going to that guy, because the same thing happened to him. He'd bring it in for something, pay an arm and a leg, and a week later something different was wrong. We couldn't figure out exactly what he was doing, I'd hate to think he was purposely breaking other things on us because it was always different issues. But once I stopped going to him I didn't have nearly as many problems.
@jesssp (2742)
• Canada
31 Dec 08
Another way shops can take advantage of people is by telling them something needs to be replaced right away when really it could be fine for months. When you have no way of knowing if that's true or not then of course you agree to replace it. You really need to watch and it's always good to know someone how can take a look at your car themselves, they can at least let you know if your mechanic is telling you the right thing.
@busyB4 (875)
• United States
31 Dec 08
Hopefully, it was some of both. Sometimes it does make you wonder, particularly if a woman takes the vehicle in. Fortunately I have found a good one I trust who has actually told me things I could do to keep from spending more $$s. If he says my vehicle needs something ,it has always fixed the problem! So I go to the same ones all the time!
@Barb42 (4216)
• United States
31 Dec 08
There are mechanics that are definitely dishonest. They will try and cheat anyone they think would not know the difference. My daughter has had problem with her Jeep Cherokee. She took it to a mechanic across the street from her work. He told her it was something to do with the transmission and it would cost $1500, which she didn't have. It set in her drive until my husband went to see about it last week when he was off. He said there was nothing wrong with the transmission, and I forget what he said was wrong. But, while he was checking it out, the brakes locked up, so he found out what was wrong and has gone up there today to fix them. Hopefully, he can fix the other problem, too, if he can find the part which will cost probably around $80. YES, the guy was going to take your money and fix the small part and never tell you the truth. My husband's brother had worked for a large transmission shop. He got tired of their dishonest ways one day when a man brought in his automobile and they told him the transmission was shot. They replaced something that cost only cents, and then charged him a stiff price. He said he had it with them, quit, came home and started up his own transmission shop and kept until he retired. He then rented out his building. There are a few honest guys around, but few and far between.
• United States
31 Dec 08
It's hard to know who to trust and who not to. I remember when I was younger and had my first car, it was making a funny noise. I brought it to the mechanic and literally said "Money is no object" Boy was that a silly thing to say. But he didn't take advantage of me. He tighted something under the hood and said "No Charge". So I continued to go back to him, and he continued to help me out. Until one day I had to replace my engine. I paid him over $2,000 to do it, and a week later the engine had blown up again, along with my radiator because he didn't do the work right. He wouldn't refund me a dime, and wouldn't replace the engine either. I ended up taking him to court.
@Barb42 (4216)
• United States
1 Jan 09
You are right. That's why my husband always tries to check our daughter's car before she lets someone else work on it. Turned out it was only the speed control senser, or something like that - a small part that plugs into the transmission. The guy probably knew exactly what was wrong and would have charged her $1,500 or more to 'fix' the problem! I guess her brakes locking up was a blessing in disguise. That way her Dad got it all fixed! So now she's driving her car again and I know she's happy about that!
@ravinskye (8242)
• United States
31 Dec 08
I'm very leary of mechanics. We don't have a regular one we go to. When we bought our van the radio didn't work right. So we took it back down to the place we got it and they replaced it. Not more than a month later it quit working completely again and we noticed this stuff that was on the doors like something was blowing out the vents and running down the doors. My brother in law knows a good bit about cars and he checked it out and said something was leaking down and getting in the vents and blew up our radio. So we took it back to the dealership again. They tried to tell my husband that we dumped a soda in the stereo and that they wouldn't replace it. They also lost my husbands keys that were in the van when they looked at it but claimed they never saw it. So we flipped out and didn't go back there again. We took it to a place closer to home and told them what happened. It didn't make sense that we would dump soda in the radio just to get the same damn factory radio put back in. So they looked at it and said the radio was spotless there was no way soda was dumped in it and they replaced it for us. We also had trouble with another local dealership. We took the van there to get the transmission looked at. When they were done they replaced the fluid but they put too much in. When the other place was looking at our radio we had told them the transmission was acting up. Here, the idiots had put too much in and all our seals were about to burst. If we had gone on it much longer we would have had to put in a whole new transmission. So I'm not too trusting on anyone at this point.
• United States
31 Dec 08
I've been through a number of situations like that too. But hubby usually has a way of finding someone we can trust. Like his buddies that owned their own shop, or this co-workers friend. It's good to know people.
• United States
22 Jan 09
I used to trust the mechanic down the road from me. They were great, and I really appreciated their work and time. I felt they were honest. The past coupld of days, however, I am extremely unhappy because I took my car in to have the thermostat fixed and now the blower doesn't work and there is a broken or disconnected hose somewhere, so I can't even drive my car. I ended up stranded on the freeway for an hour. I don't think it's coincidence that my car overheated and broke down less than 24 hours after they replaced the thermostat. I'm going in tomorrow morning first thing to express my extreme displeasure.
• United States
3 Jan 09
I actually do trust my mechanic. I know that they would not give me the run around because I have worked with them for years and like you mentioned before about the older mechanic across town they give me great deals. I know that they would not rip me off because I have a good basic knowledge of car maintenance. All of these definitely help contribute to the trust issue. However, possibly the other mechanic did make a mistake or he thought it was lower down than what it really is. Maybe it was a part that needed replaced and if you replaced it you would want to replace on down to. Kind of like why buy one new tire because the rest will need replaced to sooner or later.
@lilybug (21148)
• United States
31 Dec 08
I think it may have been a combination of both. My car had the starter replaced about a year and a half ago, but it was still having problems. It was never the starter that was bad. My brother looked at it and it was a wire that was attached near the starter that was not connected properly.