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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Don't Let the Auto Repair Shop Scam You

My gear-head brother told me the serpentine belt in my car was frayed and needed to be replaced, and suggested I take my car to a specific automotive repair shop in town.

Jim knows his stuff when it comes to cars and I thought his repair shop recommendation was trust-worthy. What I had forgotten is just because he had no problems with them didn't necessarily mean the place wouldn't "mistakenly" wrongly diagnosed my car. As I sit and type this, I also recall him telling me that most of the repair places in town make a habit of instructing their technicians to find other things "wrong" with the car in order to drive up sales.

So, the repair shop replaced my serpentine belt then told me the tensioner pulley, the main pulley within the engine, needed to be replaced because it had quite a bit of movement which would ruin the belt; possibly breaking it and causing more damage. The cost to replace the pulley? $150.

I have spent thousands of dollars in repairs to my vehicles over the years and most of that money was unnecessarily spent because the shop either "wrongly diagnosed" or plain ol' didn't repair my car correctly. With past experience in hand, I decided to take my car to another shop to get a second opinion.

After arriving at the scheduled time, I told the young man behind the counter I had spent thousands of dollars on unnecessary repairs; that I refused to be duped into doing so again. In other words, I was basically giving him a warning. "Don't screw with me."

In the end, after he and another fellow pushed and pried the pulley with a long crow-bar looking instrument as I stood at the shop door watching, they concluded replacing the pulley wasn't required. There was hardly any play - if any - in its movement and no movement whatsoever while the engine was running. The young man did suggest I bring the car in within a year just to be sure all was okay and that suggestion was fine with me. By the way, their inspection didn't cost me a penny. Not one red cent.

I was so happy with this news that I immediately made an appointment to have the car's air conditioner repaired by them. On second thought, I think I'll get a second opinion once they've diagnosed the problem.

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