Saturday, April 3, 2010

Things You Will NEVER Hear From Your Mechanic - Part 3

Things You Will NEVER Hear From Your Mechanic - Part 3
“I make unnecessary repairs.”

You drop off your car at a mechanic’s shop for routine maintenance or a repair only to find out that the mechanic made additional repairs that you didn’t request but that he deemed “necessary.”

Recommendations for unnecessary maintenance are a common complaint among consumers, says Sherry Mehl, the chief of the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) in California. (The bureau works to protect consumers within the automotive repair marketplace.) For instance, shops can suggest flushing a radiator or fluids, which can harm some cars, she says. (Car owners’ manuals specify if flushing will help.)

Consumer complaints about auto parts and repairs are on the rise, according to the Federal Trade Commission. For 2009, the FTC has 2,689 complaints, up from 2,438 in 2008 and 1,698 in 2007. It was dishonest practices that cost Santa Ana-based EZ Lube $5 million in a civil settlement for unfair business practices in December 2007. An investigation by the Orange County district attorney’s office “uncovered a pattern of unfair and deceptive business practices at several EZ Lube locations where consumers were being sold unneeded parts and services,” according to the DA’s statement. As part of the settlement, EZ Lube agreed to pay restitution to anyone with a legitimate claim over the past five years. (When reached for comment, a spokesperson for EZ Lube referred us to a company’s press release on the matter, which reads: “It is our goal to make sure all of our customers are protected by the highest safeguards in the industry when they bring their vehicle to one of our stores.”)

"Cars are incredibly complex and most unnecessary repairs in the marketplace today are due to the fact that a shop often ends up trying a few things in order to solve the problem,” says Tracy Myers, owner of Frank Myers Auto Maxx in Winston-Salem, NC. When a mediocre mechanic is baffled by a repair, he or she will probably keep replacing suspect parts until the problem is finally solved. Many of the parts replaced may have nothing to do with the problem, but you’ll probably end up paying for them anyway, he says.
- Portions of this post taken from Smart Money.

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