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How To Avoid Auto Repair and Service Scams

Aug 17, 2007
There's a reason why auto service stations have one of the largest numbers of complaints with state attorney generals in every state. Some uphold good business practices and ethics, but most, unfortunately are all about profit and don't care if they have to lie and cheat to get it. To prove this all one has to do is go to several dealers with the same problem or question. You will get many different answers, price ranges and estimates all for the same problem(s) and almost all recommending unnecessary and unneeded services or repairs.

Just ask the dealer the question of routine maintenance and what is recommended at each service. If you open your owners manual it will tell you what is recommended for normal driving habits and some may give you recommendations for harch conditions. Regardless of your climate and weather most service advisors will tell you that the area of your country qualifies for harsh and extreme weather - they are trained to do this as it requires more services and makes them more money. Its not whether your car needs it - most people will qualify as normal conditions and require a lot less servicing per the National Highway Traffic Safety Association and AAA. The manufacturer made those owners manuals after millions of dollars were spent on design, research, and testing - I think I would listen to the manual.

On calling several dealers as to recommended mileage intervals between oil changes we got a range of 3,000 - 3,500. It didn't matter what area of the country we called. The answer was the same. Upon reading the owners manual of several cars it says 4,000 - 5,000 for normal driving habits. We then called asking about the correct mileage to change a timing belt 60,000 to 70,000 was the answer range we got. The owners manuals gave a range of 90,000 -100,000. This is proof positive that profit hungry dealers are pushing up more expensive services, requiring additional and unnecessary services, and basically scamming and ripping off customers. We could not find an honest new car dealer in the bunch, but we did find one service and repair shop that did not require anything over the manufactures recommendations.

Our recommendations:

1) Read your owners manual and take it with you for servicing. Let the service advisor try and argue with you over when an actual service is really recommended. Don't pay attention to his fancy charts and recommendations.
2) Check and see if your warranty covers the item and if it is really necessary.
3) Oil changes are only $14.95 at Walmart - why pay more at your dealer (dealer average is $26). The oil is the same and you can get synthetic, the best, for the price the dealer charges for regular. As an added bonus, Walmart won't push unnecessary repairs or services on you. Walmart is also much cheaper for tires - so is BJ's, and Discount Tire.
4) Do minor items your self. Windshield wipers cost only $4 for a set of two of the same original equipment quality. Just guess what dealers charge. We only asked a few as we could quickly see, just like with oil changes, that the dealer wants to make a lot of money - $54 including installation for the same $4 wipers. Buy then at most Auto parts stores and they will install them for free.
5) If you must use a dealer for repair, always call around. Don't just take their word for it. Before you go to the dealer, check them out with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Find out what their customers are saying.

The most important thing to remember here is to not get scammed. Some services are needed, just check it out and make sure the dealer isn't just trying to get a high priced and unnecessary service out of you. Get your owners manual and read the section on required services - it will save you money nest time you visit your dealer. Remember their service advisors are constantly trained just like car salespeople to get you to buy regardless of whether you may need it.
About the Author
David Maillie is an alumni of Cornell University and specializes in automotive safety products and information. He holds numerous patents and awards for his patented headlight cleaner and restorer. For more information please visit: MDWholesale.com
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