5 Things Your Mechanic Isn’t Telling You

Posted in October 9th, 2013
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37 MjAxMS0wNi0wMi0xNDMzLTQ4LmpwZw==A recent episode of Nightline Prime’s “The Lookout” uncovered the disturbing truth behind something many women have experienced: As a woman, taking your car to the shop often triggers mechanics to suggest more services, whether or not your vehicle needs those services. Worse, the mechanic may not even perform these extra services, essentially imposing a gender surcharge. While it’s not always possible to escape sexism at the auto shop, learning mechanics’ dirty secrets can help you to save money.

You might be able to coast twice as long without that oil change: Mechanics recommend getting an oil change every 3,000 miles. In reality, you may get as much as 7,500 miles between oil changes, depending on your car’s make and model, Edmunds.com advises. There’s another bonus of delaying your oil change: Mechanics often suggest additional services when you bring in your car for an oil change, because oil changes are break-even or loss-leaders for most automotive repair shops. So if your mechanic can upsell you into changing your brake fluid at the same time, he makes money.

Asking to have that part back gives you proof your mechanic actually did the work: Demonstrating your own knowledge level and holding a mechanic accountable for his work can prevent you from being fleeced. After all, mechanics tend not to lie to men because they feel, rightly or wrongly, that men know more about vehicles. Next time your mechanic tells you that you need new brake pads or that your timing belt needs to be replaced, ask to have the old part back. This way, you have proof that your mechanic replaced the part, and you can take it to another shop to get a second opinion.

Lifetime warrantees pad the auto shop’s pockets. You may think a lifetime warranty protects you, but Florida mechanics see it as a way to ensure they continue to receive your business, reports Kelley’s Auto Repair. Those parts may be under warranty but the labor is not. Before you commit to a lifetime warranty, do your homework and find out how the shop’s labor costs compare to those of other auto body shops.

“Certified pre-owned” doesn’t add value to a used car. Consumers see the certified pre-owned as a being a step above a generic used car, but in reality, it means whatever the auto dealer wants it to mean, Consumer Reports warns. Instead of falling for a CPO, use search tools like Drivetime Autos to identify used cars that meet your needs, regardless of status.

The check engine light is a green light to run up expensive bills. If you freak out when you see the “Check Engine” light come on, you’re not alone. Many Tennessee consumers do, taking their car to an auto body shop. However, mechanics can tell you whatever they want when they see that light on, and they know the most common cause of a “check engine” light is a loose gas cap, Thomas Torbjornsen notes in his auto repair book. Before you rush in, tighten your gas cap. If you still have a problem, ask to see the parts when they are replaced.