DRIVERS have been warned by trusted mechanics about the most common car repair shop scams that are leaving people losing thousands of dollars.
In a survey of 1,000 people who were scammed by their auto repair shop, half of them said they lost about $975 on unnecessary repairs.
Research conducted by American Trucks found that 56 percent of respondents believe they have been victimized due to a lack of knowledge about cars.
Mechanics have warned motorists to find out about common scams and possible costs before visiting a repair shop and allowing them to work on their vehicle.
American Trucks adds, “Get second and third opinions and request estimates in writing.”
“Also, learn about your vehicle, common repairs needed, average costs, and possible scams mechanics could get away with.”
Meanwhile, 39 percent of respondents said a common scam was misdiagnosing problems that cost them an average of $1,167 to repair.
“I was told my car needed a repair that wasn’t actually necessary,” one person told the Motors website.
Others overcharged for parts and labor, also costing victims around $1,000.
Meanwhile, 15 percent of those surveyed were victims of so-called phantom repairs.
Here, the mechanic states that he fixed a problem but actually did no work on the vehicle, costing victims an average of $1,200.
Two other common scams reported were bait-and-switch schemes, where customers are quoted a price and then charged a higher amount after the work is done.
The second problem was reported by 11 percent of respondents who were victims of a parts store that charged them for new parts but actually used used or substandard parts in the vehicle.
These last two scams cost victims between $1,100 and $1,300.
In addition to a lack of automotive knowledge, a number of other reasons were given as to why drivers have fallen victim to the scams, so drivers know what to look out for when taking their vehicle in for repairs.
Just over 35 percent of respondents admitted to not doing much research into repairs, and 33 percent said they were simply desperate for a quick fix.
Others claimed they fell victim to the scams because they had a trusting nature, while others said they felt pressured to agree to the work at the moment.
Many failed to ask questions, while eight percent received nothing in writing.
A 21-year-old woman advised drivers: “Ask for a written quote, such as via email, before agreeing to a repair.”
“In my particular case, I was told the price when the car was ready when they called me to pick it up.
“When I picked up my car it was $200 more than it was on the phone 20 minutes earlier.”
Another problem was the lack of various services in the area and those new to the neighborhood could not distinguish the trustworthy shops from the shady ones.
According to the research, one in five car owners are not confident about detecting fraud in a car repair shop, with women more than twice as likely to be not confident.
On average, luxury vehicle owners need to be more careful to avoid losing even more money to scams.
Those with flashy vehicles lost an average of $1,275, while those with mainstream cars lost an average of $764.
A 58-year-old male respondent said: “Be careful – ask around – and vote with your wallet… if a place seems dodgy, go somewhere else.”
Another respondent said, “The less you know about cars, the more likely you are to get a second or even third opinion before doing anything major.”
“Once you find a mechanic you can trust, stick with them.
“It never hurts to continue your education. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save with the do-it-yourself approach.”