Why the auto repair industry gets a bad rep

Messages
6,480
Location
Connecticut
Not all auto repair shops are crooks, and not all dealerships are out to burn the customer, but those few who are make everyone else in the industry look bad. The vehicle in question is a 2009 Ford Escape with about 40k miles on it. The lady who drives it is a family friend. She is recently divorced, and has two kids she is trying to support. I've helped her with some mechanical things such as changing her oil, maintaining her lawn equipment, fixing her sink, etc. Today she calls me and leaves a message on my phone since I was in class. She was at a repair shop getting her A/C fixed since it stopped working two weeks ago. They apparently told her that her front brake pads were extremely worn and very dangerous. They told her that just one panic stop would probably render her car unable to stop. They told her they would be glad to change the front pads for $400 and that she shouldn't drive with bad brakes. By now she is panicking because she doesn't have $400, and she also has to pick up her daughter and get to work. The shop is convincing her that she shouldn't drive her car. I ask her if the car makes any noises when she presses the brake pedal, she says no. I ask her if there are any vibrations when she presses the brake pedal, she says no. I tell her not to worry and tell them to just fix the A/C like she asked, and I'll look at the brakes on Saturday. This lady is a bus driver, so I'm pretty confident she would know if something is wrong with her brakes. At 40k miles, sure they may be worn, but to tell her it is unsafe to drive? That is a bit over the top. Once I look at the brakes I will have a word with this "shop".
 
Messages
7,514
Location
North America
Originally Posted By: jeepman3071
... That is a bit over the top. Once I look at the brakes I will have a word with this "shop".
Yup. "One panic stop could render your brakes useless"....strongarm tactics. thumbsup for helping her out
 
Messages
11,665
Location
Illinois
Nothing better than pictures of the pads and pictures of the place making the claim. If the pads are worn, but not metal on metal, I think it's only fair to document the circumstance and let the world see. In this age of social media driving much of the dialog, I would think shops would not want to put themselves at risk of over-selling the case. On the other hand, if the brakes are truly dangerous, it's good to know.
 
Messages
9,090
Location
Illinois
Local GMC dealer told neighbor's daughter that her 3 year old Acadia needed a front brake job at 35,000 miles. Her Dad is a mechanic. It didn't need a thing. No surprise there. This is the same dealership that no one in my family has done any business with since the late 80's.
 
Messages
13,058
Location
Indiana
I had the same issue with the dealer my girlfriend takes her car to for oil changes. Same scare tactic and it was a $400ish bill. They had some life left, but we thought it be best to replace them only because school was starting back up soon.
 
Messages
19,686
Location
Sunny Florida
Originally Posted By: OneEyeJack
It only takes a few bad shops to make problems for all the rest.
So true. You rarely hear from the gazillions who get work done and everything is just fine. Then again, I wonder how many got thoroughly screwed and didn't even know...
 
Messages
825
Location
Twin Cities MN USA
Last year daughter #2 was home from college on spring break. Mom drives daughter's car the day before she is to go back to school, finds out rear brakes are making a lot of noise(daughter not car savvy). She calls me at work, wondering what to do. I told her to call a local indy shop we use once in a while, which she does, and they get it in. Rear brake job came to $875! When I got home, the shop is closed, so i go over the invoice. Every part they installed the price listed was twice what I can get them for over the counter at my local parts store. The next week, I go in to argue with the owner. Basically, I am told the work was authorized by my wife, no refunds. They did offer a credit for future work, but I will never go there. The shop changed owners a couple years ago, went from a good fair shop to a rip off the customer place.
 
Messages
9,748
Location
Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: SteveSRT8
Originally Posted By: OneEyeJack
It only takes a few bad shops to make problems for all the rest.
So true. You rarely hear from the gazillions who get work done and everything is just fine. Then again, I wonder how many got thoroughly screwed and didn't even know...
I think for women with car seats, its probably quite a large percentage get ripped off. The receipts from the lady that owned my Focus have a few oddities in there, most expensive was the anti theft scam from the dealer with all the stickers all over the place. A set of brakes too at 25k miles? A couple of engine flushes too which I didn't like to see.
 
Messages
772
Location
Ohio
In my experience, most of the auto repair industry earns their bad reputation. For every positive/no-issue repair I've had done, four or five have been botched or have had things overlooked/incomplete. Missing fasteners and loose parts are commonplace. It pains me to have "professional" mechanics work on my vehicles. But sometimes it's necessary, and there certainly is much repair work that they can do better than me.
 
Messages
7,256
Location
USA
I am grateful I found a former service manager/master Subaru tech who works on my 2005 Legacy and my 2007 Acura MDX. He is reasonable and fair and inexpensive in labor($65/hr). He does charge retail for parts but we all have to eat! Dealer strategy is to get you while you are in there. You potentially will go somewhere else and if you don't we continue to make money from you.
 

Nick1994

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Messages
13,309
Location
Phoenix, AZ
The Beetle has 159,000 miles on the original front brakes and there's still over half pad left, but the DSG really downshifts a lot and there's quite a few highway miles on there. Rear brakes went 104,000 until the dealer talked my aunt into changing them (could have been fine, who knows). Dangerous because the pads are low? Come on are they trying to say the brake pad is gonna brake in half? Ridiculous.
 
Messages
22,482
Location
Apple Valley, California
i had a lady yesterday that had a front brake line that was ready to burst. the outer layer was gone and the inner tube would swell when we pushed on the brake pedal! she had just come down from the mountains. down an extreemly steep and winding road to come to us! we charged her $25 for the hose and $48 labor which included removing a wheel,bleeding the brakes etc.
 
Messages
4,240
Location
Central Maryland
Jeepman3071, good for you. If I found the pads to have a lot of life left on them, I would take them over to that shop on a busy Saturday morning and make a point of talking loudly about it in front of other customers until I got kicked out. Like cjcride I owe the home mechanic that I am to shady and incompetent shops (and my Dad and older Brother's good example and help). Chris142, appreciate your honesty, please don't take the bashing as applying to every shop and mechanic. For those things I can't do myself, thank goodness I've found a good mechanic and a good tire shop I can really trust. I was in a panic when my last good tire shop closed (actually switched over to commercial truck only). When I found my favorite service writer at another local 35+ years old tire shop, I knew I was OK again (and I was).
 
Messages
1,731
Location
stl
Originally Posted By: Inspecktor
Last year daughter #2 was home from college on spring break. Mom drives daughter's car the day before she is to go back to school, finds out rear brakes are making a lot of noise(daughter not car savvy). She calls me at work, wondering what to do. I told her to call a local indy shop we use once in a while, which she does, and they get it in. Rear brake job came to $875! When I got home, the shop is closed, so i go over the invoice. Every part they installed the price listed was twice what I can get them for over the counter at my local parts store. The next week, I go in to argue with the owner. Basically, I am told the work was authorized by my wife, no refunds. They did offer a credit for future work, but I will never go there. The shop changed owners a couple years ago, went from a good fair shop to a rip off the customer place.
It's a rip, but 50% mark up on parts by a repair shop is nothing out of the ordinary.
 
Messages
5,133
Location
chicago, Illinois
Originally Posted By: SteveSRT8
Originally Posted By: OneEyeJack
It only takes a few bad shops to make problems for all the rest.
So true. You rarely hear from the gazillions who get work done and everything is just fine. Then again, I wonder how many got thoroughly screwed and didn't even know...
Ding, ding, ding! I know how to do basic work on my cars, and even the things I can't do myself I have learned enough that it is nearly impossible to [censored] me... I have had a MULTITUDE of horrid experiences at both $tealerships and independents as well, it ranges from poor work, dishonestly, overpriced work,incompetence, even outright LIES to my face, and then some of these shady outfits have the unmitigated gall to get obnoxious and cop an attitude, and yell at me when I politely call them on their fraudulent business practices. Fact is that I would say the number of honest shops is the definite MINORITY when compared to dishonest and incompetent ones. I stand by my statement that the ENTIRE auto repair industry in the US rightly deserves the sleazy reputation they have among consumers.
 
Last edited:
Messages
884
Location
CA
Originally Posted By: jeepman3071
Not all auto repair shops are crooks, and not all dealerships are out to burn the customer, but those few who are make everyone else in the industry look bad. The vehicle in question is a 2009 Ford Escape with about 40k miles on it. The lady who drives it is a family friend. She is recently divorced, and has two kids she is trying to support. I've helped her with some mechanical things such as changing her oil, maintaining her lawn equipment, fixing her sink, etc. Today she calls me and leaves a message on my phone since I was in class. She was at a repair shop getting her A/C fixed since it stopped working two weeks ago. They apparently told her that her front brake pads were extremely worn and very dangerous. They told her that just one panic stop would probably render her car unable to stop. They told her they would be glad to change the front pads for $400 and that she shouldn't drive with bad brakes. By now she is panicking because she doesn't have $400, and she also has to pick up her daughter and get to work. The shop is convincing her that she shouldn't drive her car. I ask her if the car makes any noises when she presses the brake pedal, she says no. I ask her if there are any vibrations when she presses the brake pedal, she says no. I tell her not to worry and tell them to just fix the A/C like she asked, and I'll look at the brakes on Saturday. This lady is a bus driver, so I'm pretty confident she would know if something is wrong with her brakes. At 40k miles, sure they may be worn, but to tell her it is unsafe to drive? That is a bit over the top. Once I look at the brakes I will have a word with this "shop".
These stories are very annoying. Somehow we have come to accept that people can set up businesses and attempt to commit fraud with no recourse. Similar things have happened to me which is one of the primary reasons I learnt to diy. If you saw the ISIS video in another thread, they have Sharia patrols. Now I am in NO way advocating Sharia(!), but one of the things the patrol did was go into businesses and make sure they weren't cheating eg checking that fuel canisters were 100% fuel and not watered down. In fact, they didn't really check, they just asked questions and given the fear factor, that seems enough in most cases. The first thought that went into my mind, maybe since I was watching it from BITOG, was we could do with that kind of enforcement on dealers and repair shops.
 
Messages
884
Location
CA
Originally Posted By: Brian Barnhart
In my experience, most of the auto repair industry earns their bad reputation. For every positive/no-issue repair I've had done, four or five have been botched or have had things overlooked/incomplete. Missing fasteners and loose parts are commonplace. It pains me to have "professional" mechanics work on my vehicles. But sometimes it's necessary, and there certainly is much repair work that they can do better than me.
I totally agree and am totally the same.
 
Messages
884
Location
CA
Originally Posted By: Chris142
i had a lady yesterday that had a front brake line that was ready to burst. the outer layer was gone and the inner tube would swell when we pushed on the brake pedal! she had just come down from the mountains. down an extreemly steep and winding road to come to us! we charged her $25 for the hose and $48 labor which included removing a wheel,bleeding the brakes etc.
Good on you and your shop.
 
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