7 On Your Side: Consumer Reports offers advice on preventing unnecessary auto repairs

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With demand for car repairs and services down, unscrupulous mechanics may recommend repairs you don't need. Consumer Reports has these warnings. (KGO-TV)

With demand for car repairs and services down, unscrupulous mechanics may recommend repairs you don't need. 7 On Your Side has partnered up with Consumer Reports with this warning.

It's a common experience, you bring your car in for a routine, or recall service, and the mechanic tells you there are bigger problems. Consumer Reports says, be skeptical. Here's advice on how to avoid unnecessary and expensive repairs.

Lisa Leone says she is no expert when it comes to cars. So when her car started to shudder, she brought it to her dealer's mechanic and was told some scary news.

"I had done damage to this major part in the car, and it was probably going to cost me $4,000 in the end," Leone said.

Suspicious, she brought the car to another mechanic for a second opinion. In the end, it turned out that a simple reboot of the car's computer solved the problem.

"Part of the reason mechanics may pressure, or mislead you is because cars are more reliable these days, and fewer repairs mean lower profits for those garages," said Consumer reports chief cars editor Mark Rechtin.

Some mechanics may even lie about what they find under the hood when you bring your vehicle into the shop.

The following are some common scams:

  • Faking a leak: Putting drops of coolant on your engine to mimic a broken radiator.

  • Recommending an unneeded full brake replacement with rotors and calipers, when simply replacing the brake pads and resurfacing the rotors will do.

  • Calling for a transmission flush, which under certain circumstances can actually cause damage.

"Also check your owner's manual for your car's maintenance schedule, especially if you suspect that a mechanic is trying to trick you by suggesting you replace an expensive piece, like a timing belt, before it's really necessary."

For any repair, be sure to get an estimate in writing. And if you still question it, seek out a second opinion from a trusted mechanic.

And be on guard if you get a recall notice. Some unscrupulous dealers may refuse to do the free fix unless you agree to other expensive repairs or maintenance.

Refusing to do a recall service until you have other unrelated repairs done is unethical and against Department of Transportation Regulations. Dealers who do so should be reported to the government. Go to safecar.gov to file a complaint.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
Related Topics:
shopping7 On Your Sideconsumer reportsconsumer concernsconsumer
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