Mar 10, 2006

Don't Trust Your Mechanic? You Are Not Alone


(Toledo, OH) In a recent poll by Reader's Digest, auto mechanics were among the least-trusted of all professions, garnering a response of "I trust a great deal" among only 5 percent of those surveyed.

The only professions scoring lower were builders, car salesmen, politicians, and estate agents.

A survey conducted by Toledoan Lloyd Ebright found similar numbers for mechanics in Northwest Ohio. 64 percent of respondents believed that they have been taken advantage of on an auto repair. Over 90% believed that they had repairs recommended that they didn’t think were necessary.

44 percent of those surveyed said that they paid for car repairs that they actually found out were unnecessary, and 64 percent said that they paid more than the market rate for a car repair.

I admit that I fall into the category of "suspicious" when it comes to car repairs. For me the difficulty lies in the fact that I have more than a basic grasp of repair work, and will often do my own simple repairs on items like alternators, starters, and tuneups to save a few dollars.

When I then encounter a mechanic trying to rip me off, I become indignant; I think to myself: "Not only does this clown want to take my money, but he also thinks I am an idiot!"

I once owned a Yugo (yes, you read that right) for which the clutch cable snapped at the pedal. I was driving it when it occurred, and I could actually reach down and pull the cable with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.

When I took it to the dealer, though, the repair manager tried to tell me I needed a complete transmission. After catching my breath, and realizing that these people were attempting to scam me, I decided to try and let the guy off easy (I was really afraid they would deliberately try and screw up the manual transmission to prove a point).

I said: "Is it possible that you have my car mistaken for another? I looked at the cable myself, and I was driving when it snapped."

The manager excused himself, went into the office, and came out with another invoice a few minutes later.

"Ah yes, you were right, Mr. Brooks," he said, showing me an invoice dated one month earlier for a different colored Yugo. "Yes, I just mixed up the cars and invoices. Here's the correct one, and your total will be only $58. We'll have your car out in about 20 minutes."

I could have pointed out all the holes in his story, but I just smiled.

Needless to say, I never went back, but how many people can be fleeced by shifty operations like this?


Calico Jack said...

Big Frenchy: "Never trust a guy with a nickname."
Owney: "What about you? Frenchy's a nickname."
Big Frenchy: "That's different. I'm trustworthy."

historymike said...



Stephanie said...

Hmm. I wonder if strangers who call you up to offer you a business opportunity are on the list?

Lisa Renee said...

We've had really good luck with our mechanic though at times we haven't had the money for repairs, he has always been decent.

Last week a friend came in from out of town to visit me on his way to a job interview down in southern Ohio. He couldn't get his steering wheel to unlock no matter what he tried. So I called up Amos and he drove right over and fixed it on the spot. Not many mechanics would do that. Granted it's because we go to him often but still...I thought it was awesome of him. So? I highly recommend Hudson's Automotive for those in the Toledo area.

He's never over charged us and while he will tell you other things that are wrong he only fixes what you want done.


Hooda Thunkit said...

Yeah, everybody says the same about Amos, he is one of the good guys.

As for the rest, it's always good to have some automotive knowledge, just in case they might "misdiagnose" your problem ;-)

Lloyd said...

Here is the link to the complete data of my short survey.

I personally think going to a dealer is the best bet for repairs that you yourself can't diagnose. That is because I think many of these small mechanics aren't more qualified than your standard handy-man. Then offset the higher costs by going to a lower priced facility, like the Andersons, for your oil changes and tire rotations.

Lisa Renee said...

I guess I disagree with you Lloyd, I've had more problems with dealerships as far as being overcharged, hence us lucking out and finding out about Amos. Even when it's something bad like our last car that totally died...he went out of his way to try to help.

Amos has even referred us to other shops for things he doesn't specialize in, and so far? Has never steered us wrong. Infact if Miguel would have listened to me and had Amos look at the last car he bought? Would have never happened.....

historymike said...

Turning the question around, maybe we could do a ToledoTalk segment on the best mechanics in town.

Lisa Renee said...

Well we do know Amos already has two votes. My friend was amazed, he thought he was going to have to scramble to get a rental car and deal with coming back up here to get his car later.


Valbee said...

A certain national chain tried to tell me that my car's right front wheel bearing was going bad when I took it in for new brakes. It was a '94 Lumina and this took place in the summer of '96. They wanted nearly $250 just for parts. I ran the estimate past a few guys I worked with and they all agreed there was no way a wheel bearing would be bad that soon in a car's life. I called the chain back and said, "Fix the brakes and that's it."

I still have the car and though the brakes have been replaced several times, no mechanic has ever mentioned a bad wheel bearing. And it's never been replaced.

My nomination for best mechanic would have been an old neighbor of mine. But he's out of the business now, so there's not much point in naming him. Where is this Amos you speak of??

Lisa Renee said...

Val, Hudson's Automotive in Holland, he will tell you everything that he finds wrong but will only fix what is necessary. Considering our last car? He knew it's time was limited and only fixed the minimum possible.


Stephanie said...

Personally, for mechanical nimwits like myself, I recommend going to AutoZone first whenever possible. They can usually tell you what's probably wrong, what might be wrong, and what somebody might say is wrong but isn't wrong, and also give you an estimate about how much something should cost. At least, both AutoZones around here do so.