The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a statement last year stating that consumers lose over $10B a year in auto scams and bad repairs. In 2013, an investigative news team found that 7 out of every 11 oil shops engaged in deceptive practices and conned 22 million people at 2,000 franchises.
Finding a trustworthy auto repair shop is important, but also paying attention to your maintenance program will help you avert most of the scams. Here are a few samples of how to scam proof your auto repair experiences.
THE AIR FILTER SCAM
We’ve all experienced a mechanic showing us a dirty, blackened air filter with his recommendation that he replace it with a new one. This scam is typically done at volume shops that do dozens of oil changes a day. Most cons show you a very dirty filter that didn’t even come from your car.
There are a couple things you can do to avoid this con. First, initial your new clean air filter with a Sharpie so you know the dirty one is actually from your car. Second, if it is from your car and you follow your regularly scheduled maintenance program according to the car’s manufacturer’s book, your filter won’t need to be changed unless you drove for a long period of time on very dusty gravel roads.
At Hi-Tech Addison Auto Repair we only replace the air filter when its absolutely necessary or during the car’s regularly scheduled maintenance. For those filters that are somewhat dirty, we shake out as much loose debris as possible to keep the filter effective until the car’s next regularly scheduled maintenance.
THE CHEAP OIL SCAM
Some shops use upgrade technics to scam customers into buying a higher brand of oil than their car requires or they force a customer to purchase more oil at a higher price. While 80% of consumer cars use 6 quarts of oil, those vehicles requiring 7 or more are automatically upgraded from the sales coupon. However, some scammers game the system for everyone by offering a very low oil change price for 4 quarts, which forces everyone to purchase more oil at a higher price.
To avoid this scam you can read in your owner’s manual how many quarts of oil your car needs. You can only accept the offers that fit your car or you can know in advance how many additional quarts are required. This gives you a point of negotiation on how much the additional quart will cost.
At Hi-Tech Addison Auto Repair we never up scope you from oil to a synthetic blend, or to all synthetic product. Our coupon offers only include Shell synthetic blend oil with no upgrades or down grades required. The synthetic blend is better than regular oil so your car can go 1,000 – 2,000 extra miles before changing oil. Using an all-synthetic product is only a requirement for a few very high-end vehicles, which we never have on sale due to low volume of customers.
There are several other scams in the automotive industry, but most of them can easily be avoided by performing regularly scheduled maintenance on your car in accordance with the schedule in your owner’s manual. By adhering to the manual’s requirements you will avoid the vast majority of the scams.
You’ll also avoid all the scams by bringing your car to Hi-Tech Addison Auto Repair. We received Honorable Mention (second place out of 4,000 companies competing in Illinois) from the Better Business Bureau for Marketplace Ethics in 2017. We have also received multiple nominations for the 2018 Torch Awards and we’re working hard to take home first place.