How Can I Tell If a Mechanic Is Trying to Cheat Me?

Avoiding car mechanic scams

Mechanics are a necessary part of owning a car. While you might want to DIY as much as you can, the truth is that you probably can’t fix every problem in your car yourself. Sooner or later, you’ll need to take your car to a mechanic. How can you tell if that mechanic is trying to scam you out of your money? Here are seven things to look out for that might mean your mechanic is scamming you.

1. Can’t Even Give You a Monetary Estimate

After taking a look at the issues with your car, a good mechanic should be able to give you a pretty decent estimate for the cost of the repairs. Beware of any mechanic who says that the problems are “so extensive” that they can’t even provide an estimate. Chances are, they’ll try to see how much you’re willing to pay, then go with the upper limit.

2. Requires Up-Front Payment for All Parts and Labor

It makes sense to require some amount of upfront payment for certain things, but mechanic services are not one of them. After all, they have your car—if you don’t pay at the end, they can just refuse to give you the keys. However, some mechanics will take advantage of the fact that you expect to pay at the beginning for most services, charging you for far more labor than they’ll actually put into it.

3. Uses Jargon and Big Terms Without Explaining Any of Them

One of the telltale signs of a mechanic trying to cheat you out of your money is trying to overwhelm you with mechanical jargon. If they use words that aren’t on the basic parts list of a car, and they don’t stop to explain the more complicated words they’re using, they’re probably trying to make you think the problem is more complex and difficult than it is.

4. Won’t Give You the Old Car Parts

Remember, you technically own the old parts that they have to take out and replace when you bring your car to the mechanic. Even if you don’t want to keep them because you have no way to recycle them, it’s a good idea to ask to see the old car parts. That way, you can verify that they actually replaced everything they charged you for.

5. Won’t Explain the Actual Problem and the Reasons You Need a Fix

What is the actual problem that you’re experiencing? Why is it important that you fix it now, rather than next year? These are things an honest mechanic should be able to explain to you. If they just keep vaguely letting you know that you absolutely need a laundry list of repairs, chances are they’re overblowing how serious a good chunk of those repairs actually are.

6. Doesn’t Offer Any Kind of Warranty

Most honest mechanics will offer some kind of warranty on their service. If you get a taillight replaced, and a week later the light goes out again, chances are there was a problem with the installation, and the mechanic should be willing to make things right. Even if the warranty is only six months, that’s better than nothing, and it’s something you should be looking for.

7. Has No Social Media Presence

In the modern era, social media is a crucially important tool for helping people connect with new services and information. If your mechanic doesn’t have a social media presence or has a large number of negative reviews on review sites, you should be very concerned. You can also try to find out more about your mechanic with PeopleFinders.

While PeopleFinders is mostly about finding information regarding individuals, the reverse phone lookup is a very useful tool if you’re looking to verify certain pieces of information about your mechanic. If you look up the phone number the mechanic has listed and it doesn’t belong to the mechanic, chances are there’s a problem. With PeopleFinders, you can also find out some general information about the mechanic directly.


Most mechanics are very honest people and aren’t trying to scam you, but unfortunately, there are some dishonest mechanics out there as well. The good news is that you can typically tell when someone is trying to scam you. With these tips and a bit of help from PeopleFinders, you can avoid getting scammed the next time you take your car in.

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