Some mechanics see a customer and think they have an easy mark to scam. But not these drivers! These folks share the time they caught their mechanic in a lie. Content has been edited for clarity.
They Tried To Mess With The Wrong Woman
“I’d gone in for a new set of tires… and had the service rep tell me:
‘You need a completely new rack, and new shocks because your bushings are the wrong type, you have red ones they should be black and this caused your rack and shocks to fail.’
So a little background here… this was on my ’85 Nissan 300ZX turbo. I have worked as a mechanic before for both the military and as a civilian. and I do about 90% of my own work on my Z. Also I occasionally like to cross-dress (trust me it’s relevant)…
I had a few weeks off after coming back from a mobilization before I had to return to my day job. The first week I spent getting my Z fixed up to drive again and doing some upgrades I’d not had time to do before — it had been in storage while I was away. I put all new bushings (yep, they are red), inner and outer tie rods, Tokyo Illumina shocks (with new mounts), new brake calipers on the rear, and pads all around… took it to a suspension shop (I’d used before) and had it aligned. The only thing left was new tires; I called around to find a shop that could get me the size and type I wanted (same as I had been using), and scheduled a time the next week to bring it in. So far nothing out of the ordinary…
So the next week I had made plans to get dressed up and go out with a friend of mine the day the car was due to get tires. The plan was to drop it off that morning and pick it up that evening, and my friend would pick me up at the tire shop… so far so good… so that morning I got dressed up, and drove to the tire shop, go in, hand over the key and confirm they had my tires and would be done by the time I was due back.
The day goes by just fine and my friend drops me off at the tire shop as planned. When I go in to pay for my tires is when I get told my steering rack is bad, and I need new shocks and bushings… I’m immediately suspicious since all of those parts are new aftermarket upgrades I just put on. That’s where they tried to tell me the color of the bushings was why I needed new ones… and that the shocks had too small of a shaft and were going to break at any time. They then tried to say I couldn’t drive it as it was and that I’d take a week to get the parts and another to install them… I should just head home and let them start ordering the ‘right’ parts. Then he asked, ‘Do you have a ride home, Honey?’ with that sticky look some men get when they are trying to sweet talk a woman…
At this point, I’m smiling, trying to not laugh at him, both for the absurdity of the ‘required repairs’ to my ‘unsafe car,’ and for his attempt to hit on me…
So I asked him if he tried this on everyone who came in or just the women? Then proceeded to let him know that all the parts he listed were brand new, and had already been looked over by a qualified shop… not a week ago… and asked if the tires had been installed yet…
This is when he starts to explain that no they haven’t as the car is still on the lift and that they have partially disassembled the suspension…
Without my consent to any repairs.
He again asks if I have a ride home, and I go from amused at a shop trying to pull one over on a gullible ‘woman’ to annoyed…
And I ask for his supervisor… and ask again…all the while he’s running around the same theme of the car is unsafe they have to replace all of the suspension or I cannot drive it. As I get more and more annoyed he starts telling me to ‘calm down, we’ll take care of everything’…
So at this point, I’m demanding to speak to his supervisor or manager, and not sounding much like a lady anymore…
He finally tells me the manager is out for a bit and I’ll have to wait for him to get back… this is a Tire Kingdom store, there are other of their stores around, so I call the next one down the list on my phone… and after 5 minutes talking to that store’s manager (only had to ask once and was put on phone within a minute), he tells me to wait a few minutes; he will be coming over to resolve this issue…
Not 10 minutes later the other ‘store manager’ (I later found out he was something like an area manager) walks in and asks what is the issue. The rep I’d been dealing with launches into his spiel about how the rack and shocks are bad and that the bushings are wrong… and then the manager said okay that’s enough… and turned to me, okay what’s the problem? I explained the recent work, that I never asked for or authorized any work besides the tires, and how I’d already told him this, and that his only response was to say they started tearing it apart already and ask me if I had a ride home. At this his eyebrows shot up, and he asked me to come with him to see the state of the car…
As soon as we got to the bay, he went from looking calm, but concerned, to royally ticked off…
You see, in the last two bays were two cars… my 300Zx and one of the mechanics’ 300Zx. They were pulling the new and expensive upgrades off my car and putting them on his… when he (the manager) demanded an explanation, one of the mechanics mumbled ‘shoot, that’s the chick who brought it in.’
In the end, they paid to have my suspension shop put it back together, as I refused to trust them to do it, and gave me the tires done at another location… And that location closed for a week while they found new employees.
When I brought it to the other location to get the tires, I met with that manager again, but I wasn’t dressed up… he had to do a double-take when he came out, then started laughing… part of their internal investigation found they’d run scams on other women before… they just tried it on the wrong ‘woman’ this time.”
Don’t Mess With A Master Auto Tech
“I drove my girlfriend’s new Honda Civic and noticed a rough downshift and told her it would be good to bring it in and have it checked as it was under warranty.
She called me when the dealership told her that it needed new front pads and rotors at 3000 miles, and the warped rotors were the problem I had felt.
I happened to be a master certified Mercedes-Benz technician at the time, so naturally, I had already ruled that out. We went to the dealer and I met with the service advisor, while I was still in my work uniform, and asked him to review the recommendations on the car.
He, rather dismissively, said it needed pads and rotors because my girlfriend had warped them. I asked him for the run-out measurement and threshold for the car, and he looked at me like I was speaking in an alien language. Then he said that they don’t do measurements, just a road test. I replied that if the vehicle was out of the specifications for run-out, (the warpage of the rotor surface) that it must be measured against a manufacturer’s standard to claim that a new car needed $600 in brakes that wasn’t caused by a warrantable defect.
Given that he still gave me a ‘deer in headlights look with a hint of ‘go F yourself,’ I asked for him to bring the car out for a road test. When it arrived I took the work order from his hand and read the ‘mileage in’ out loud, then I read off the exact same mileage from the odometer. I asked him how a determination for warped brakes was done in less than a mile when the brakes should go through their full range of temperature to diagnose system-specific issues on a road test. He replied that they can get hot in under a mile. I asked him if that kind of driving was policy for his technicians to be doing in a residential neighborhood, and he just stared blankly.
So we went on the road test and I duplicated the issue. He said that it was warped rotors. So I did it again and let go of the steering wheel, as warped fronts cause the wheel to tip back and forth when slowing to a stop, and when it remained stationary I asked him if it was still warped brakes. He stated he didn’t feel anything. So I did it again, and he stated that that was normal. After another few times demonstrating a 2-1 downshift clunk, with no vibration in the steering wheel, and getting a number of other phony replies from the advisor, it was time to call in someone else. Mind you, my girlfriend was in the back seat watching this whole thing.
At that point, I asked for the service manager.
Of course, we sat around for another 45 minutes before we were told he had just gone home, and the foreman would see us.
Round 2 with the foreman. I drove the car and duplicated the issue. He said that’s odd, let me drive it. He drove it and duplicated the issue multiple times. He stated that he would check it out and let me know what he found and that it definitely wasn’t brakes and a recommendation for brakes should have never been made without a proper road test no matter how common warped rotors were on these cars. The next morning he called up and stated that all the shifts were within specification, he had also driven a number of other vehicles and it appeared to have been a difference in programming between the 06 and 07 models where the 07 had a harsher downshift at low speeds. He said to bring it back if the shift ever got worse and even out of warranty, there was a verified complaint on record and it would be fixed within reason.
Even experienced technicians can get the runaround just like everyone else. The only advantage I had was I understand the vehicle systems, and how to diagnose them, enabling me to call them out as a professional. But when someone shows up after disassembling a $60k engine from a $150k car, while still in their Mercedes-Benz shop uniform, you’d think the jig would be up without needing to shove their face in it. What hope does the average person have?!
BTW, the transmission is still fine at 160k miles. The control unit adapted out the harsh shift eventually.”
Yep, Pretty Sure That Is Illegal!
“That it was unsafe to drive and that he couldn’t release it to me.
So yes, as you all see, I’m a chick nursing student. I’m also 30, a military vet (Army), and have always, ALWAYS, done ~90% of the work on my vehicles. The only things I can’t do are balance tires (I don’t have the tools) and some of the large work that requires things like cherry pickers and whatnot (Again, I don’t have the tools).
So. Like any good vehicle owner whose vehicle has sat for a long period of time without being driven: after getting back from a 6-month mobilization that left my little Toyota SR5 truck sitting in dry storage, I went through and did maintenance. Checked and replaced my fan belts, air filters, spark plugs, oil, and fuel filters, did an oil change and radiator flush, checked the battery and connections, checked my brake pads and alignment, swapped out my winter tires for summer tires, cleaned out my truck and replaced my winter survival gear with summer survival gear (because yes, that is a priority where I lived), etc.
Last but not least, I added injector treatment to my fuel tank, filled my tank, and took my truck to have the tires balanced by a Les Schwab tire place. Now, because of other errands I had and because I had just spent 6 months in unpleasant sandy areas in uniform, I dressed up. Heels, dress slacks, silk blouse, well-tailored jacket, hair up in a bun. Dressed like that, I dropped my truck off, agreed that I needed the tires balanced and that was it, and was told that it would be about an hour.
Awesome. I was about to walk off to go to my other errands down the block when I noticed through that big glass window the Les Schwab places have that they were already pulling my truck into the bay, so I decided to wait. And being the interested person that I am, I watched as two guys started to pull my tires off my truck, and a third, the man who had taken my keys and agreed that I was only asking for my tires to be balanced, sat in the driver’s seat jotting down notes on a little notepad.
After about ten minutes, the third guy with the notepad came back inside and walked over to me and explained that, during his free assessment of my vehicle, he found a lot of safety issues that needed to be corrected.
‘Like what?’ I asked him.
‘Well, it’s like this,’ he responded. And then proceeded to rattle off a list of ten or twelve items from his note pad that he had noticed in his ‘free assessment’. Fan belt needs replaced, overdue for oil change and radiator flush, fuel and oil filters are shot and have to be replaced, brake pads are shot and have to be replaced, alignment is totally out of whack and ruined my tires, which now have to be replaced instead of just balanced …. Everything on his list were things I had just checked and/or replaced. He ended with this:
‘I’m really sorry miss, but your vehicle is one big safety problem. I can’t release it to you to drive in the condition it’s currently in.’
… Keep in mind, not only had I just done all this work, most of it on his list, but he had never once opened the hood of my truck. You can’t look at the majority of what I have listed here, or that he had on his list, without opening the hood of the vehicle.
After a moment of consideration, I asked him how much he thought it would be to make it ‘road worthy’ … he messed up his face and did some ‘math’ in his little notebook.
‘A rough estimate? $3,700. But it could cost more because your vehicle is technically an import, and the parts can be hard to find.’
I asked to speak with the manager, and was told that the manager was ‘out for the day’.
I then responded with: ‘So you’re telling me that, unless I get $3,700 worth of work done on my vehicle, you can’t release my vehicle to me, the rightful owner, because it isn’t safe or road worthy.’
‘Yes.’ He continued on with this babble of apologies and explanations in a sly, fakely apologetic condescending tone, and asked if there was anyone I could consult with about a repair this large, or if there was anyone who could give me a ride home. I asked him to give me a couple of minutes, and walked out into the parking lot and got on my phone out of earshot from him or his mechanics, who were still balancing my tires.
And promptly got on the phone with the sheriff’s department.
When I explained everything to the officer, he promised to be out in fifteen minutes to help me ‘clear the matter up’.
I walked back inside and told that mechanic, with the sweetest smile I could conjure, that I would have someone here presently to help me with the matter. I also asked him for the list of repairs needed along with his quote so I could discuss it with my ‘friend’ who would be arriving shortly.
He happily handed me the evidence to his arrest and even signed his name on it for me, so that I could ‘get in contact with him if I needed more than today to consider the repairs and costs.’
The cherry on top of the whole thing was, the absent manager walked in just in time to see the employee get handcuffed, and I got a free tire balance service because of what the now-former employee tried to pull.”
She Pulled A Fast One On The Guys Alright
“Rebecca’s car was making a weird noise – it needed to see a specialist.
I, her journalism school male writing partner/friend, had listened to the engine and agreed – ‘I don’t know what it is – the noise changes with the RPM, but not always. Probably a stuck valve.’
There was a general auto service shop near campus, but the place had a reputation for ripping off female students. Guys, never a problem there – bit pricey, but they all are.
I offered to take the car to the shop with Rebecca, to better sort out the manly issues that are automobile maintenance.
Then I ducked behind my desk.
I knew how much she hated this kind of chauvinistic nonsense. I was prepared for a tirade focused on the following:
Sucks to be a girl
Men are such pricks.
Instead, as I peeked up over the desk, she smiled and said ‘I have a plan.’
A few days later she revealed the plan. It was an oversize ID card she’d made on the copier. It had her face, a very official-looking logo for The Seattle Times newspaper and, underneath in large letters ‘Consumer Affairs.’ She’d even laminated the card, put some fine print on the back, and added a hanging clip.
‘I took the car to the garage, but I made sure this beauty was hanging off my purse strap – not obvious, more like laying on top of all the other junk in there.’
‘The mechanic listened to the noise for about a minute. We went back inside to the office. I plopped my purse down on the counter and he started to tell me all about the various expenses an expensive noise could lead to with a car this expensive blah blah blah.’
‘I pretended my phone has just gone off. I picked if off my belt, looked at it, and excused myself ‘just a moment.’ Turned around, walked the length of the office, said a few words to ‘Sheryl’ and hung up.’
Just enough time for him to notice the purse.
Something changed at that moment. The mechanic had a look on his face as someone had just slapped him, hard.
‘I almost laughed – his cheeks were so red!’
He said: ‘The only way to tell is to test the compression on all the cylinders. It’s probably a stuck valve; this era Chevrolet is famous for it. I’ll do that and call you with the results. Shouldn’t be more than an hour or so.’
‘I thanked him profusely and, true to his word, he called an hour later. It was a stuck valve, whatever the heck that is, and he’d fixed it. There would be a $25 charge.’
We raised our coffee cups and toasted – another victory for the fourth estate!”
Caught In A LIE
“A number of years ago I was the general manager and chief engineer of a very large motor organization in the south of England. In the UK all motor vehicles are subjected to a road-worthiness test every year, and only motor repair shops with ministry of transport (MoT) certification are allowed to undertake the tests. My outfit had such a certificate, mainly to be able to test our own hire fleet of 1,400 vehicles, but we also had to undertake tests for the general public. In addition to my normal duties, because of the size of our business, I was also the MoT chief tester.
My wife owned a small car that came due for its first annual test, and it would have been improper for it to be tested at my works, so I told her to take it to the local garage. It failed the test on two items — a failed bottom steering column bearing and an illegal repair to a tire, both with a quote for the ‘necessary’ repairs.
I took the fail certificate to the garage and asked for an explanation. The reception guy patiently explained to me that the bearing was worn and that the tire has been plugged after a puncture but did not have a vulcanized patch inside. I asked him to show me the bearing.
‘Why?’ he asked.
‘Because that make of car doesn’t have one! Now explain to me how you know that the tire was not vulcanized inside without removing it.’
‘We did remove it to check.’
‘But under the regulations, you are not permitted to remove any part of the vehicle under test.’
He decided that it might be sensible to call his manager, and upon his arrival, I went through the same routine again. ‘Well Sir, unless you are an automotive engineer you might find a technical explanation difficult to understand.’
At that point, I presented him with my business card, and his face was a picture! ‘Er…perhaps our tester was mistaken Sir!’ He immediately issued a pass certificate with profuse apologies, and I accepted it.
‘One more matter,’ I said as I pocketed it. ‘You have just lost your test station license!’
That was one of life’s more satisfying moments; another rip-off merchant taken out of the loop. As I was required to do I sent a report to the MoT area engineer, and three days later the MoT test sign was taken down from that firm’s premises.”
“Several years back, I took my one-year-old car in for service. I had been going to the dealership for most oil changes and other service checks simply out of convenience; they were very close by and the mechanic whom I’d known for years, was likely to take an hour round trip.
The Service Manager at the dealership, Bill, was always nice enough. He lifted the car and I watched his face completely change.
Bill’s demeanor went from casual workplace acquaintance to that of a concerned friend. He put his arms on my shoulders.
‘Rachelle, are you okay?’
I looked at him oddly. ‘I’m fine.’
‘I can tell from the car, the accident was pretty bad.’
‘Accident? What accident?’
‘Look over here’ Bill went on, ‘You can see the scrapes from the pylon you ran over’ The guys who worked there were gathering checking out the damage and nodding agreement.
‘Pylon? What pylon? Run over?’
‘You must have been going pretty fast too. Where did it happen? The freeway?’
I looked at Bill as if he were speaking to me in a foreign language. I knew the words but couldn’t make sense of the context.
‘Bill, there was no accident’.
‘Did someone borrow your car?’
Well there’s some serious damage that I can see right off the bat. The catalytic converter is busted, the 02 sensors…’
I asked Bill skeptically if the damage merited a call to my insurance agent. My thinking was if Bill was lying, he’d likely not want to deal with the insurance company.
By lying to the insurance company, I figured he could get himself into serious trouble. There would be accident investigators and simply too many people involved. I was wrong. He had no issue dealing with my insurance; in fact, he seemed eager.
I asked that he release the car back to me. Bill was unwilling, saying that the car was not safe to drive and, in good conscience, he could not allow me to drive the vehicle. I asked to speak with the manager saying that even if I needed the car towed, I preferred that the car be fixed elsewhere.
It was a huge hassle but my car was brought over to the mechanic I had known for years. Super honest guy. (Thanks LA Auto Care!)
He raised the car and confirmed what I knew. The car was fine. There was no accident. Bill was gaslighting me into believing my car had been damaged in an accident I could not recall. It may not be the craziest thing I’ve been told, but the face-to-face ‘sincerity’ of the lie left an impression on me.”
“Sweetie, Honey Pie…”
“I was an engineering college student back in my hometown in NE Florida for the summer, and I took my car to the shop for an oil change. I checked the tranny and brake fluid before I left home, and it was clear that both were clean and in good shape. I get to the shop, ask for the oil change and standard free inspection, and politely decline their current specials for brake and transmission flushes.
I sit and wait the 20 min or so, and then the slimiest guy I’ve ever come across fetches me from the waiting room with ‘Erin, Sweetie? Come here Sugar, I want to show you some things on your car, Honey Pie.’ He was covered in a malodorous mix of oil and grease of both human and automotive origins, smelled like he had rolled in an ashtray, and literally couldn’t say five words to me without interjecting some sugary pet name.
He proceeded to pull out my car’s brake and tranny dipsticks to demonstrate to this woman, who he’d pegged as a cute little naive co-ed ready to be ripped off, just how dirty they were…. by rubbing the fluid between his filthy fingers. I looked him in the eye and told him, ‘Wow, it sure is hard to tell how clean those are on your greasy hands, but they looked great on a clean towel back at home.’ He backpedaled a bit, called me a few more names, and then pulled out a checklist supposedly outlining the service needs of my car based on the inspection. He runs down the list through the usual maintenance items like brakes, chassis, etc, and then he gets to the engine.
‘Sweetie… Honey Pie… both your fuel injectors and carb need service. We can fix those for you today, Baby Girl.’ I was so dumbstruck by the blatant attempt to rip me off that I couldn’t find any words to respond. (For anyone confused…. fuel injector technology replaced carburetors… you absolutely won’t find both in the same car.) I felt lame after the fact, but I ended up just paying for the oil change and leaving as fast as I could. I still wonder just how many customers he managed to con with his dishonesty.”
A Mechanic Tries To Scam A Machinist
“I took my two-year-old Honda Odyssey to a Honda dealership for an oil change because they were having a special. After the mechanic got it into the bay, he came out and told me in a somber and apologetic tone that my radiator was ‘gushing’ fluid and I would need a new one.
He seemed to be under the impression that a handicapped woman in a minivan wouldn’t have a clue about cars.
I looked out to the parking spot my van had occupied for a good 30 minutes before they took it back and pointed out that there was no wet spot there. I also pointed out that the car had not been overheating and that I regularly check the levels of my fluid and they were fine when I brought it in. Therefore, I insisted that he take me back and show me where this horrible leak was in my radiator. He looked like a deer in headlights, and tried to make an excuse to go check the car again before I went back. At that point I wasn’t going to let him anywhere near my car without me present, and told him that I would follow him immediately to his service manager. I then took the service manager with us out to my car and demanded to see the leak. After much hemming and hawing as he desperately searched for any kind of leak on my perfectly clean undercarriage, the tech pointed to a small line of something crusty around the head of a bolt on my power steering pump. As a machinist I immediately recognized threadlock when I saw it.
I told the service manager that I wanted that prick away from my car and that the oil change was to be completed by someone else, because this idiot couldn’t tell the difference between radiator fluid and thread seal. Oh yes, and I wasn’t paying for the oil change, since their tech had just tried to scam me for a $300 repair I didn’t need. I left with the free oil change and reported their behavior to corporate and never went back.”
Now That’s Hard To Believe
“Years ago, I had a 1982 Oldsmobile Delta 88. The intake manifold gasket was leaking, so I decided to fix it myself. After hours of trying to get the metal gasket lined up with one hand while holding vacuum hoses and wires out of the way with the other, I finally got it back together. I probably should’ve gotten some help, but I wanted to do it on my own. I was proud of my work until I turned it on.
It made the worst metal-on-metal sound I had ever heard. I immediately shut it off. I knew I messed up the job and the pistons were hitting against the manifold. Or, something like that. I wasn’t quite sure, but by the sound, I knew it was going to destroy the engine if I kept running it.
I didn’t have much money but did have a Chevron credit card that would reimburse me for towing. So,I had it towed to the Chevron station by my house. I explained what I did and the sound it was making. I told the mechanic that I butchered the gasket replacement and needed them to redo it. It was going to be $400. I authorized it. I knew I could have had it done cheaper somewhere else, but could only pay with the Chevron card. I didn’t have much choice.
The mechanic asked me to turn it on. It made the horrible metal-on-metal sound. He told me to shut it off and called another mechanic over. Then he called another. Soon, every mechanic in the shop was looking at it.
I felt my stomach sink. It was worse than I thought and was going to cost a fortune. Then he called me over said the craziest thing I’ve ever heard a mechanic say. ‘It’s not the intake manifold gasket. You actually did a decent job on it. Here’s the problem.’
He had another mechanic start the car. That horrible sound was back. Then, he moved the metal-air intake hose away from the spinning alternator that was rubbing against it. The noise stopped.
Why was what he said crazy? Because he could have easily pulled the car into the garage, moved the hose, had lunch, and charged me $400. I wouldn’t have questioned it because I already authorized it and had convinced myself it needed to be done.
But, he didn’t. He was honest and only charged a small diagnostic charge. That’s what was crazy.”