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November 18, 2021

Has your mechanic ever taken you for a ride?

When it comes to cars and sleazeballs, we’re generally led to believe it’s the used automobile salesman who’s the least honest of the group.

But, if you’ve ever been to an unfamiliar mechanic, they sure do make a run at the top spot, don’t they?

Indeed, while most of us have the under-the-hood competency of Peg Bundy, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn a little so mechanics don’t see green money signs every time we walk into a garage.

Yet, what are the key know-hows? has done a good job compiling a rundown of what the amateur car owner should be wary of to make sure a mechanic isn’t taking you for a ride.

The most important step appears to working in specifics. Never pop into a garage and say something vague like, “I need a tune-up,” because that’s essentially the license to steal some mechanics may be looking for.

Know your car’s manual, which is the “most valuable defense (sic) tool when visiting the mechanic,” according to Mint.

By learning which repairs are generally needed at what mileage, you’ll be much more inclined to smell a con job coming.

“Just saying something as simple as ‘I need my 30,000 mile service’ shows your mechanic you are informed,” one source tells Mint, “and not someone he can easily take advantage of if he is so inclined.”

Also beware of common traps, like a mechanic telling you they’ll need to tow your car out of the garage because it isn’t driveable. Chances are, if you drove the thing in there, it’s good to at least drive out – and that’ll save you a hefty towing fee you likely don’t need.

Always get a written estimate, too, and get them to be as specific as they can. Don’t allow a mechanic to put “Fix Car - $800” on a piece of paper because – as the source tells Mint – that unspecific $800 could easily bloom to twice that by the time it’s fixed.

You can check out the rest of the site’s suggestions here, but what do you guys think?

What things should we always be watchful for at the garage, and has a mechanic ever tried to scam you?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...