Have you ever gone to an auto repair shop for an oil change, only to have the mechanic say your car needs a new transmission? Has the “check engine” light come on, and suddenly the mechanic says you need expensive new engine parts?
One seasoned auto mechanic is warning consumers to be well-versed in how a car works to avoid being ripped off at the auto repair shop.
“Joe,” who has been a mechanic for 40 years, agreed to reveal the secrets of his trade to ABC News’ “20/20” on the condition that his identity would remain concealed.
He said some mechanics may try to squeeze more money out of customers by doing unnecessary repairs. What drives mechanics to cheat or push unnecessary repairs, Joe said, is the tiny profit margin at many repair shops. Most mechanics are honest, he said, but many are pressured by their bosses to perform unnecessary work.
“The shop has to stay in business,” Joe said. “There are pressures to do things that maybe you wouldn’t do normally.”
Joe admitted that he has used shady tactics, himself, in the past.
“I’m ashamed a bit to admit it, but when your boss tells you … ‘Either you do it here or the door’s right there,’ what are you going to do?” he asked.
The Automotive Service Association says the majority of the service repair industry is ethical and only charges the consumer for necessary work.
“20/20” went undercover at several auto repair shops in New York and New Jersey to see if mechanics would add unnecessary repairs and fees to service a “20/20” producer’s car, which had been given a clean bill of health by two licensed mechanics beforehand.
One of those licensed expert mechanics was Giuseppe Mendola, owner of AutoTech Diagnostic in College Point, New York.
“If they found a problem with this car, it would probably be a problem they invented or that didn’t exist at all,” Mendola said.