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‘Honey they charged you HOW MUCH?!’: 5 tips to avoid getting scammed at the mechanic

‘I’m still stuck on the $180 oil change.’

 

Ljeonida Mulabazi

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Finding a qualified mechanic you can trust is no easy feat. 

With challenges such as a shortage of skilled auto repair specialists, rising costs of car parts and materials, and increased demand from car owners who need repairs, the process can be expensive, time-consuming, and often frustrating. 

Understandably, the last thing you want is to get scammed by your auto repair shop, but sadly, it does happen. 

According to a survey by American Trucks, the most common scams reported by victims are unnecessary repairs, false diagnoses, and overcharging. On average, car owners are scammed out of $832 per vehicle.

To help you avoid these scams, we’ve listed five pieces of advice from car owners and mechanics who have experienced these scams firsthand. Here’s what to watch for.

Call out the ‘girl charge’

Mechanic admits to girls getting scammed when all they go in for is an oil change
@smokeeash/TikTok offsuperphoto/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

TikToker Ash (@smokeash) shared a skit portraying “girl charges,” which went viral with over 6.9 million views. 

In the video, Ash portrays a mechanic who overcharges a woman, listing blown-up prices like $190 for an oil change and $320 for a wheel alignment. 

He jokingly adds a fictional repair for a smoking blinker. “So the total’s like around two grand. All you wanted was an oil change?” Ash says, illustrating the common issue. 

Despite the humor, the clip reflects a real problem where women are frequently overcharged or given unnecessary services at auto shops more so than their male counterparts, as reported by U.S. News.

To avoid getting scammed, always research and compare prices beforehand, get a second opinion, and insist on a written estimate before authorizing any repairs.

Don’t immediately agree to invasive procedures

Man talking(L+r), Chevrolet dealership(c)
Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock @davesautocenter/Tiktok (Licensed)

According to mechanic and TikTok user Dave Bell (@davesautocenter), you should always request a simple check first before agreeing to more invasive procedures.

In a recent video, Bell gives one example: If a mechanic suggests removing the oil pan to diagnose engine noise, ask them to check the oil filter instead. 

This quick inspection can often reveal the issue without unnecessary labor and costs. “You don’t have to pull an oil pan off. Customers, don’t allow your shop to do that,” Bell advises.

This simple step can quickly detect metal debris and prevent unnecessary, costly repairs. Always request this quick check to save time and avoid extra charges.

Avoid going in for simple fixes

woman taking out old air filter in car with caption 'oh there we go' (l) woman speaking in car with caption 'just do my oil change and I'll do that myself' (c) woman holding new air filter with caption 'ah beautiful' (r)
@saika_delic/TikTok (Fair Use) Remix by Caterina Cox

In a viral TikTok video, content creator and music artist Saika Delic (@saika_delic) shares how she avoided a $300 upcharge from a mechanic by doing her own repair.

After bringing her car in for an oil change, the estimate skyrocketed from $184 to $545.57. “Um, you got me all the way messed up if you think I’m gonna pay over $300 just for you to change my air filter,” she says. 

Instead, she purchased the parts at AutoZone and used a YouTube tutorial to do it herself. “And that, ladies, is how you can save yourselves some money,” she concludes.

Get a second opinion 

Mechanic examines Nissan and gives a second opinion
@brilliantautocare/TikTok Олег Арюткин/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

The official TikTok account for Brilliant Auto Care (@brilliantautocare) posted a video giving a second opinion on a Nissan repair estimate.

In the clip, a mechanic says the dealership quoted $4,500 for repairs, including new control arms and a fuel injection cleaning. 

The mechanic, however, found the car in decent condition and did not recommend the complicated repair. 

 “I guess for cosmetic purposes—that’s the only reason why I would change it,  but that’s not necessary,” says the mechanic. 

He advised, “It’s always smart to get a second opinion on your repairs.” 

Get tools to DIY when you can 

Man talking(l+r), Harbor Freight(c)
Harbor Freight/Facebook @tylerandthaliag/Tiktok (Licensed)

In a recent TikTok video, user Tyler (@tylerandthaliag) shared some essential tools for DIY car repairs from Harbor Freight. 

Tyler offers tips on budget-friendly tool choices for beginners, so you don’t need to go in for the simplest fixes. 

Standing outside Harbor Freight, he says these tools can help you “do your own repairs or start your own mobile mechanic business.”

Tyler recommends starting with a ⅜-inch drive ratchet, metric sockets, and a half-inch impact wrench.

“You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on tools for your at-home repairs,” he stated.

 
The Daily Dot