Car Repair: How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off
As I have documented before, I have a gas chugging truck which I love and hate at the same time. I love it when I’m hauling stuff or heading to the snow, but hate it when I’m at the gas station wishing they would provide some free lube as I can barely walk after I fill up the tank.
But the price of gas is not the point of this post. This post is more a story. A story with a moral at the end. So grab a warm blanket and a cup of coffee and gather round.
(Start harp music)
A couple months ago, I took my truck into the service center at the Chevy dealership where I bought it because my 4 wheel drive was acting really weird and I wanted it checked out before I took my family up to the mountains to cut down our Christmas tree.
Made the appointment, took it in, and a few hours later a “service specialist” calls me and informs me that he has good and bad news. The good news is my 4 wheel drive looks great, but the bad news is my water pump is leaking and needs to be replaced. The cost will be $900 and some change for parts and labor on a new pump.
I was like, “Say what dude?” and he was like “Yeah, you’re water pump is a mess my man” and I was like “nine hundred bucks? Holy crap.” He then said he could conveniently “get ‘er done today” as he had all the parts in stock and a mechanic ready to do the work.
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Something in my gut felt very uneasy about the whole dealio. So I told him to “STOP” in the name an emergency fund, as I wanted to get a 2nd bid on the work.
Enter new mechanic. I had heard really good things from friends about an independent mechanic in town and I called him and got my truck in the next day. Guess what? The water pump in my truck is good as new. He pressure tested it several times over the course of a couple hours and NO LEAK or any evidence of leakage!
Then, being a stand-up guy, he actually called the dealership because he thought maybe he was missing something. He could not get anyone from the dealership to talk with him about my truck, all the sudden they had complete amnesia about the situation.
By trusting my gut instinct I saved myself darn near a $1,000.
The Moral of the Story:
~ Trust Your Gut Instinct – If it smells like fish and looks like a fish, guess what, it probably is a fish. On substantial repairs, never automatically say, “OK, go ahead and fix it” without getting a second opinion. Especially if that little dude in your gut is telling you “to slow down and smell the bull manure.”
~ Make Sure You Can Talk to the Mechanic – The most frustrating part of dealing with the dealership is you can’t ever talk to the person who actually looked at the vehicle. They route you through a slimy salesman dressed up like a “service rep”. When I asked how bad the leak was he was like, “Umm, doh, err, I’m not sure. He just said the water pump needed to be replaced right away so it must be pretty bad.”
~ Beware of Dealerships – I’m not saying all service centers at dealerships are shysters, but you really need to have your finger on the BS button when dealing with these guys. The dealership in question just did a huge and expensive remodel and is now super-duper fancy….I’m just saying be careful.
~ Ask Around About Good Mechanics – Always have your ear peeled for when the topic of local car mechanics comes up with friends and acquaintances. Good and affordable mechanics tend to get great word of mouth advertising so make sure you write down the name of the good ones in your local area. Once you find one you trust and are happy with be sure to build your relationship with them by buying them Starbucks and send them a Christmas card every year. Believe me, it’s worth it!
Have you had any similar experiences with dealership mechanics or any mechanic for that matter? I look forward to your comments.