13+ Things Your Car Mechanic Won’t Tell You

Real mechanics give you the inside scoop on the tricks of the trade.

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1. Watch out for scare tactics.

1. Watch out for scare tactics.
Admonitions like 'I wouldn't drive this another mile' should be viewed with suspicion.

2. Check for...

2. Check for...
ASE 9National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence0 or AAA (America Automobile Association) certification, as well as a state license. Reputable shops are proud to display them.

3. Ask, ask, ask

3. Ask, ask, ask
...for recommendations, years in business, warranties offered, licenses, and the type of equipment used. Look for a clean garage. A floor cluttered with empty oil cans, worn tires, and dirty rags is a red flag.

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4. Never sign a blank authorization form.

4. Never sign a blank authorization form.
Always get a signed work order with a specific estimate for each job and warranties that apply.

5. It's nuts to take a car with engine problems to a shop without a good engine analyzer and scan tool.

5. It's nuts to take a car with engine problems to a shop without a good engine analyzer and scan tool.
 Any mechanic who says 'I don't need fancy equipment' should be avoided.

6. Synthetic motor oils may cost more...

6. Synthetic motor oils may cost more...
...but you'll get a lot more miles between changes.

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7. When you go for a second opinion...

7. When you go for a second opinion...
...don't tell the mechanic what the first diagnosis and price were.

8. Coolant flushes and power steering flushes...

8. Coolant flushes and power steering flushes...
...are very common gimmicks at quick lubes. Check your owner's manual; many cars have fluid that is designed to go 100,000 miles. And cleaning fuel injectors is a waste of time and money. There are additives on the market that do a great job.

9. Always ask for OE (original equipment) brake pads or at least equivalent material.

9. Always ask for OE (original equipment) brake pads or at least equivalent material.
 A $49.95 brake job will usually get you the worst friction material you can buy-it's the difference between stopping short and causing a pileup on the way to work.

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10. Ask about your new tire's 'build date.'

10. Ask about your new tire's 'build date.'
 If you're getting an unusually good deal, you might be receiving three-year-old treads, especially risky for snow tires.

11. Lifetime mufflers?

11. Lifetime mufflers?
 What would ever make you think a muffler will last a lifetime? Yes, they'll give you free replacements, but they'll hit you over the head for expensive pipe repairs.

12. Consult your dealer...

12. Consult your dealer...
 ...before you have work done on a catalytic converter or emissions parts. Some of these items carry a very long warranty, and free replacement is often required by law.

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13. It's not okay for your 'check engine' light to stay on all the time.

13. It's not okay for your 'check engine' light to stay on all the time.
 It's probably not 'a loose gas cap.'

14. Don't be duped by double labor.

14. Don't be duped by double labor.
“If a mechanic offers to change your timing belt and water pump, question how long the job will take. Some will charge you double labor even though the second task is essentially done once the belt is removed.”

15. Always ask for your old parts back.

15. Always ask for your old parts back.
"This way you’ll know they’ve been changed, and you or a friend can tell if they’re worn.”

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16. Be careful with “road hazard” warranties on tires.

16. Be careful with “road hazard” warranties on tires.
“The shops may give you a free tire here and there, but eventually they will soak you with unnecessary alignments or suspension replacements.”

17. All brakes are not equal.

17. All brakes are not equal.
“Ask for estimates on brake jobs. Many mechanics will use very cheap parts and mark them up. Good mechanics who understand cars will never skimp in this area.”

18. Have your car test-driven.

18. Have your car test-driven.
“A good test-drive is just as important as a regular service — it might mean the difference between simply needing brake pads and having a complete rotor replacement.”

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19. Find expert mechanics.

19. Find expert mechanics.
“Good mechanics, like good customers, are hard to find— communication is key. A good mechanic will explain repair phases and give you choices.”

20. Be wary of certified pre-owned cars.

20. Be wary of certified pre-owned cars.
“Usually in this business the only thing that’s certified is that someone owned the car before you. Very little ever gets done on these types of cars.”

21. Go early in the work week.

21. Go early in the work week.
“Don’t bring your car in on Friday afternoon because the mechanics might rush the job to get out for the weekend.”

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22. Don't make a rookie mistake.

22. Don't make a rookie mistake.
“Beware of a mechanic who shows you a transmission pan with metal particles in it and recommends a major job. The shavings are usually a sign of normal wear."

23. Familiarize yourself with tire tread.

23. Familiarize yourself with tire tread.
“Before buying new tires, know what your state’s tread specifications are. Then have the mechanic measure the old tread with a gauge.”

24. Beware of false promises.

24. Beware of false promises.
“Watch out for ads promising $100 brake jobs. No mechanic can make money on that.”

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25. Weed out scams.

25. Weed out scams.
"Transmission flushes are one of the biggest scams going. Manufacturers don’t recommend them, and your car almost never needs one.”

26. The market is being flooded...

26. The market is being flooded...
...with cheap parts from China. Request a name-brand replacement and ask to see its box. SOURCES: Gary Montesi, owner, Montesi Volkswagen, North Haven, Connecticut; Domenic DiSiena, manager, Bedford (New York) Shell; Bob Sikorsky, automotive writer, Tucson, Arizona; anonymous mechanics in Minnesota and New York

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186 thoughts on “13+ Things Your Car Mechanic Won’t Tell You

  1. The thing with mechanics is there are good honest mechanics and there are downright thieves, just like any other profession, however with cars and mechanics its especially hard to tell the difference and next to impossible to prove wrongdoing unless you set up some sort of sting operation. In my experience, the best mechanics are local guys that have been around for a while and you’ve heard good reviews about them. Name brand places like Firestone are hit or miss and the dealership will almost always rip you off with unnecessary repairs. For expensive repairs, ALWAYS get a second opinion and don’t tell the second guy what the first guy said you needed done or the price, if the first guy was being honest the second guy should suggest the same exact thing. If there is a major discrepancy, chances are someone is trying to rip you off.

    One of the best things you can do is learn the basics of how cars work and push mechanics to explain exactly what the problem is. With a basic knowledge of how cars work and the time to be there when the mechanic diagnoses the problem will save you thousands of dollars across your lifetime. Mechanics can tell when you are a busy person with no knowledge of cars, and those are the people they like to rip off, especially if you come in with an expensive car. They know you just want it fixed and will pay almost anything to just get it done.

    In short: Learn how cars work, demand thorough explanation of the problem and the suggested repair, and get a second opinion.

    Not all mechanics try to rip you off. In my experience, dealerships and name brand places have ripped me off and in more than one case intentionally damaged my car and charged me for services that were never performed. That said, I now have a good honest mechanic that I have do all the work I can’t do myself. Take the time to find a good mechanic, it will save you thousands.

  2. Actually the tire road hazard warranties are well worth it. You don’t have to get an alignment when you get them replaced even if they say so. I’ve gotten quite a few free tires over the years by just spending the extra $10-15 for the warranty.

  3. I am an a.s.e certified tech and some of these are pretty close to the truth but the first is not. we can be held liable for you leaving in a car unfit for the road. and anyone who says your car doesn’t ever need a transmission flush is out of their minds.. like any fluid it breaks down .it’s also recommend you get your alignment checked twice a year.suspension parts wear down and fail causing much more damage that will cost you far more it’s better to be safe then sorry but please do be diligent and make sure when you leave the shop you choose that you leave happy and confident that you’re car is in good hands

  4. hqahahahahahahahahahahqahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahaha

  5. As an ASE, AOCA, and AAA certified Automotive Technician for that last 10 years I can say SOME of these are true, but some are absolute bullshit! Plain and simple. Just as an example: Bottled additives to the fuel tank are NEVER and I mean EVER as good as a fuel injection cleaning. And I can prove that by simply removing a valve cover. The proof is in the pudding as they say.

  6. I am a shop owner myself, and number 8 of 27 is wrong about the fuel injectors. I use run rites cleaner, and it’s not a gimmick. Regular additives are just going to sit in the fuel tank and some what clean things. My cleaner cleans thoroughly, the injectors, pistons, valves, fuel lines and filters, and then i run a intake cleaner through the intake plenum that clears the carbon buildup, and the intake side of the engine. Then i clean the throttle body with a special cleaner and the MAF sensor as well. A fuel additive isn’t going to do what should be done. A lot of these comments are wrong and are coming from people that have had bad experiences, or have no automotive knowledge whats so ever, and it ticks me off.

  7. This is exactly why you need good insurance.. so at least if the mechanics steal your money, it comes out of the insurer’s pocketbook and not your’s! Preferably full coverage… if u can afford it, think again! I found mine for $36/month thru 4autoinsurancequote… just make sure NOT to use a big company like State Farm, GEICO, etc.. their full coverage rates are wayyy too expensive. Cheaper rates are from a smaller company (cuz ur not paying for all their TV commercials!)

  8. I’ve been a Mechanic/ Service writer for about 6 years now I have 6 ASE Certifications from Service consultant to Advanced Engine Performance. I know that most people have a mindset that the Automotive repair industry is full of deception and Lies… and it is completely understandable. But I can say that there are shops who choose to provide their customers with Honesty and a customer oriented service. My main priority from the start is to make sure my customers vehicles are successfully diagnosed and repaired. From personal experience and from my perspective there are people in my industry who strive to be honest in every situation presented. There are descent mechanics out there, you just have to find them and give them a chance.

  9. The most challenging aspect of car repair is often the mechanic’s
    favorite part: diagnosing the problem. Speed and accuracy in diagnosis
    and quoting prices to the customer are crucial if the mechanic intends
    to keep long-term clients.

  10. I teach people how to look for scams and how to work on their own cars!! Just go to youtube and search for: KLOWNY1969 and you can also subscribe to my channel for free to be updated whenever i post a new video!!
    I have something for everybody from the average do it yourselfer to the racer..Come check it out!
    Thanks,

  11. I have a real problem with how you attempt to inform people by making them distrust auto technicians and repair shops. Maybe you should turn your distrust of hard working people around and point the finger at all the white collar rip off artists, like those in Washington DC. If you don’t know what your car needs then you are uninformed and irresponsible and if you get ripped off then it is your fault. You bought the car! YOU are the one responsible for understanding it. Most auto technicians and shops are very honest and work long hard hours. What are you going to say to the person that reads your first tip and drives off in an unsafe vehicle and dies because they didn’t trust the mechanic? YOU told them not to trust, therefore it will be YOUR FAULT!!!!!!! Great article for breeding mistrust!!!!!!
    White collar people in DC rip everyone off every day, for billions, and you don’t trust mechanics. I’m sure doctors never rip you off or sell treatment you don’t need.

  12. Many OEM parts are made in china and their quality is very good it’s Taiwanese parts that are usually poor quality. As far as saying your rarely need to flush the coolent or transmission fluid on your car is ridiculous! On most new vehicles the transmission fluid is burnt by 50,000 miles and your coolant becomes acidic after 2 to 3 years and starts eating the aluminum and plastic used to build modern engines. Some Fuel injection cleaners sold on the shelf are very good I like chevron techron personally. Having a shop clean your injection is not a waste of money the chemicals they burn in the top end of your engine are very strong and designed to thoroughly clean your injectors and and burn carbon of combustion chambers valves and pistons to restore proformance and fuel economy and extend engine life. Just my two cents

  13. #25 is the worst of all cant believe hardly any of this. You can tell that this was wrote up by a woman who knows nothing about cars. Incredible where do they come up with this crap!!!! flushes in my opinion are some of the most important things you can do along with fuel injection cleaning and other maintenance, do watch out for cheap oil changes and break jobs the cheap oil change is mostly done when shops get slow and are looking for work, that doesn’t always mean they are trying to screw you so if they tell you something isn’t right have them show you if they are honest they will most likely not have a prob with that. cheap breaks are trash. old tires are your choice just be careful just cause they are a lil old doesn’t always mean they are no good take time to look and inspect them. Like its been said many times do the research on the shop b4 u go to it. not all shops that are dirty are bad a lot of times in my experience I try very hard to keep my bays clean and all tools back in they place to prevent loosing tools they are not cheap but when you are busy a lot of times you don’t have a chance to clean up between each car so it waits until the end of the day. there is a fine line between messy and dirty. OEM parts are the way to go spend the money its worth it. busy shops are generally a good sign I would rather wait a day or two than get bad service from an unknown crap shack down the street with a bunch of shad tree mechanics that can sweep and clean good. ASE is always better but there are some of us out there that do good work and are not ase certified I am a mechanic not an ASE tech there is a big difference. An ASE tech went to school to get education on certain areas of auto there are many ASE certifications you can get on many areas of the automobile not to mention on the job education that an ase tech has. I tip my hats to those of you that are ASE certified techs I know the diff between the two unlike a lot of people you have worked hard to get the title of ASE CERTIFIED TECH and I have not but you must admit there are good and bad techs as well as mechanics and just because you don’t have a patch saying that you are ASE certified don’t mean you are incapable of doing the job. I have a good friend who is ASE certified master tech with about 20 years experience he is also GM certified and I am 26 years old with about 4 years experience with nothing more than some advanced auto classes and a few I-car classes, my friend would still rather work along side me than most of the cert techs in our area of course he taught me most of what I know. anyways I hope this may help some of you who are willing to listen to good advice given by most of the people who have commented on this horrible list of dos and donts.

  14. Coolant and Transmission flushes are recommended by almost every auto make (all have different mileage recommendations however). The longer you keep coolant in your engine, the more acidic it becomes and the more damage it does to your motor. Same with trans fluid, but trans fluid will also break down like any other oil. These are NOT gimmicks…

    Fuel system cleanings are not gimmicks either.. Throttle bodies with enough carbon build up will throw a CEL and run HORRIBLE. If done right, a fuel cleaning will clean the valves and combustion chambers and increase power and fuel efficiency.

  15. Most Manufactures recommend a Transmission Fluid exchange every 60k miles, not only is it needed, it’s crazy to avoid.

  16. it came to my attention that my regular mechanic had padded my bill and my car wasn’t still driving better. they replaced my muffler even and its 1 year old has holes in it the clamps were not replaced and the spark plugs and filter too . I have pictures to prove it what can I do

  17. i am a machanic and i am not a prick i do my job and you guys have no respect for us

    1. woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!

  18. Great advice, but as a mechanic i don’t agree with it all (most of it is good advice). Use your own intelligence when choosing a shop. Plus you can go to angieslist and mechanicratingz to find good mechanics. Remember there are many professional mobile mechanics around, research well.

  19. I work as a dealer technician for a major American brand. Regarding #26, I can honestly tell you that the “factory replacement” parts sent to us by our AMERICAN manufacturer are labeled “MADE IN CHINA” or “MADE IN MEXICO” 75-80% of the time!!!!!!!!

  20. Im sorry but im a ASE Master Certified Technician and i think these are all valid thoughts except one!! transmission flushes number 25. yes its true that some company’s don’t require a flush. but a lot do. if its dirty or discolored or especially if its not slick its kind of gritty, it should be replaced if you want it to last. ive seen them go out bad fluid and a little to hard on them = bad. solenoids can start sticking or torque converter could fail which is very expensive. trans-x awesome stuff if you have problems most manufactures recommend a flush at 80 to 100k. some even recommend the filter to be replaced as well. i do not believe in replacing filters personally however though because they make the filter big enough to filter out the debre big enough for the transmission. in other words if it clogs up you dont have any transmission left. Also keep in mind additives deplete overtime even synthetic additives which are very important because the detergents keep partials sustained in the fluid so it can go threw the filter rather than plug passageways

  21. am n automtive technician. This article is absurd. “cars almost never need a transmission flush” thats crazy. Dont flush it and you will be replacing it.

  22. “Transmission flushes are one of the biggest scams going.

    A good mechanic should know that high mileage cars, especially trucks who have taken much load that are suddenly introduced to a transmission flush have a high probability of transmission failure due to the fact that all those metal pieces/shavings that got lodged or mucked in oil on the walls or sticky passages become free and cause tranny failure.

  23. I recommend people consider 150,000 mile automatic transmission

    fluid and filter change as preventative maintenance. This I feel

    is what allowed my last transmission to go 450K miles before it failed.

    Aging transmission fluid will oxidize and then take the automatic

    transmission’s rubber seals with it. So it is better to replace this fluid

    and it’s filter once in a blue moon sometime before the fluid oxidizes.

  24. 88 year old man took his 2004 Cadillac for an oil change at the Cadi dealer. Was told his tie rods were worn and could cause an accident. He got them changed for nearly 400 dollars and the mileage on the car was 32,000. He never abused the vehicle and took care of it, but I guess they knew a sucker when they saw him.

    1. This is stupid. Tie rods are one of the weaker parts of your steering system, that take a lot of abuse, and for the most part are non serviceable. His tie rods could have very well been bad.

  25. Well, actually, my check engine light DOES come in with a loose gas cap in my Miata. Get a cheap OBD code reader and research the issue for yourself. I also question the “certified cars are useless” theory. Yes, if Joe from Joe’s Dealership “certifies” it, but factory certified used cars are a different story… In terms of oil changes, go by your manual. Now adays they say every 7,500 miles using standard oil. Get it done then.

  26. First I am NOT a mechanic. But I will say that I really don’t think this is very accurate. Number 3 would describe my auto mechanics shop perfect. It’s the owner and two other working there. I first found him when I took our truck to get it checked out when it kept running hot after about 10 minutes of run time. I took it to Firestone and to Sears and both said it was gonna need a radiator and something else. The something else was Sears but both said the radiator was no good. I was coming back home with two estimates of between $500 and $650 when I passed a new local owner shop that had opened up less that 6 months earlier. He said he would check it and he would also run me back home. He called about an hour later and and told me it was ready and he took the liberty to fix it since it was only gonna cost $3.99. I told him what the others were saying before I left it with him so he knew I was expecting it to be a lot. He said keep that money in the bank. It was only the radiator cap. I have used him now for 20 years this year. I can’t say say he ever cleaned his shop. But he is honest and good. Mikes Auto Decatur Tn

  27. Gotta love that picture of the owner and mechanic under the lifted car. The insurance underwriter’s head must be exploding…!

  28. Some of this advice is wrong, plain and simple. Also had ‘check engine’ light come on in last three cars, twice it was the gas cap, once a sensor, so yes, it very well could be the gas cap.

  29. This woman know very little about cars and car repair. I have to wonder why editors would even print something from someone that obviously has no experience or knowledge. Maybe the editors should be fired.

  30. I always buy certified pre owned, they are cleaned to look like new, extended powertrain warranty, good price and low interest rate. Never a problem with them either (Mercury’s)

  31. I was a boat mechanic that also had to do checks on our job’s vehicles. Doing the vehicle checks helped me quickly pick out key parts under the hood of different vehicles at a glance (it would be nice if parts were in the same place, no matter the vehicle…lol). However, it wasn’t until I started changing oil and other fluids on our multi-million dollar boats that I became curious about changing the oil on my car. I picked the brains of the guys I worked with and got them to teach me how to take care of my car (the basics). I already knew how to change a tire because of my dad, but the guys I worked with taught me how to change my oil, air filter, change my pads/discs/rotors, & bleed my brakes.

    Sooooooo simple its ridiculous! I’m VERY grateful for all that I’ve learned because it makes it easier for me diagnose my own problems & if I’m unsure, I’ll do a bunch of internet research. My last resort is to tell the symptoms to one of the aforementioned guys & go with their response. Then, I go do more research before I go to a mechanic shop. I make sure to say things to let them know I’m not a dumb female and because I already know what the problem more than likely is and ways to fix it, I KNOW when they are trying to b.s. me. I’m also very in tune with my car, so if they suggest something that seems off, I’d ask about it. It’s never happened though.

    I’ve actually had the opposite– when I was in California a few years ago, I was trying to get quotes on a complete brake job & a new set of tires because I was getting ready to drive back to the east coast. I went to 4 places for quotes and asked for a quote for pads, discs, & rotors. At least 2 said, “You probably don’t need all of that, we will check everything & let you know.” I had to tell them I’d needed to replace it all before I left the east coast a year prior, but I hadn’t, I’d only replaced my brake pads because I thought I would be able to do the rest when I got to California. Unfortunately, there was no setup that allowed us to work on our cars and that’s why I was now standing in their shop. It didn’t help that I have an odd tire size, so they thought I didn’t know what I was talking about when I would tell them the size & they’d go out & look or look it up in their systems. Every single time, they’d come back & say, “Oh, you were right.” I would’ve loved to give the classic kid response, “Duuuuuh.” lol

    I took my car for a routine oil change 2 days ago (which resulted in me finding this article) & asked them to check my brakes. They’d been making a little noise, odd considering I’d gotten ceramic brakes & drove my car gently for the first 50-100 miles to prevent grooves. They came back to tell me I needed to replace my rotors– they were heavily grooved & were messing up my pads. I told them I’d had my brake job done in Feb ’12 and the mechanic advised me to check my warranty. Absolutely! When I left, I noticed the printout they’d given me recommended brake fluid & power steering fluid flushes. I’d noticed irregularities with my power steering a few months ago, but since it only happened 1-2x, I forgot about it. The labor alone for both flushes is $160. No thanks, I’ll be doing them myself.

    Bottom line– you need a solid base about anything you are taking for repair. There are dishonest people everywhere– car mechanics do not have a monopoly on this. For example, I now do all things related to computers and phones. The power connector in my laptop broke & has to be soldered back on. I know how to solder, but I’m not confident enough in my abilities to do it to my laptop, so I called for a quote. The guy quoted me over $300 for something I KNOW will take him less than 30 minutes to do (the most difficult thing will be taking everything apart & putting it back, not the actual soldering). Because I KNOW better, I researched parts for my laptop & discovered I can just replace the whole part for $20.

  32. This says to always ask for old parts back, but Meineke was extremely reluctant to give my parts back unless I paid a very high fee ‘required by law’. Since I barely had the money for what I took my car in for in the first place, I definitely did NOT have the $70 required to get MY old car parts back. If there IS a fee required by law, the article should warn people that asking for one’s own car parts back will require a fee.

  33. This lost all credibility when I got to this: “if a mechanic offers to change your timing belt and water pump, question how long the job will take. Some will charge you double labor even though the second task is essentially done once the belt is removed.

    The Timing belt is BEHIND the water pump, inside the engine, and the water pump isn’t driven by the timing belt.

    The best advice is to get everything in writing: What needs to be done, what it entails, how long, and what it will cost. There are no estimates. They work from a book that specifies how long it should take to change the parts and they will charge you for the whole time. This makes no sense to get and “estimate”, though in many places, if the work to change both the timing belt and water pump are combined, it shouldn’t cost you anything but the parts for the pump since it had to be taken off anyway.

    When the work is done, make sure everything is itemized so you can verify you weren’t overcharged or charged for something that was completely unnecessary.

    1. More than a general knowledge is necessary for accuracy. Timing belt does NOT have to be completely removed in most cases.Also when doing water pump you have to bleed the system and dispose of coolant. None of this is free. Also a labor guide is just that….a GUIDE. . 1 shops price doesn’t make them better or worse than the next. If you want cheapest repairs….put on your gloves and get to work.

  34. PLEASE READ THIS AND KEEP IT SIMPLE!!!!!!!

    Look I have been in the automotive industry for 21+ years… I am not ASE but I learned from world experience. I have always enjoyed working on and around cars and have always tried to learn new things without the help of a school. So take this as you will…

    For every person that says one thing is a ripoff, there is another that says it is not. The big problem is there are shops that their main goal is make money at any cost. I have worked for these shop and I won’t name names but let’s say they are mostly national chains. You have some dumbass sitting in a big office saying do this or do that, just make me more money.. OH SURE, they preach customer service so that way when they screw you, it will be with a smile.. I go with the, ( if this was my car would I fix it solution ). Basically if your car needs something, is it bad enough that I would do it to my car?…

    Here is the simple truth. Big chains are the ones to watch out for, they pay their techs bare bones minimum and don’t usually require them to have much training. The shops that have the well trained guys, PAY those well trained guys. Yes these shops are more expensive usually but you can almost bet your car will be fixed right the first time. So save a few dollars and wind up spending for something you may not need or just spend a little extra and try the independents.. Usually they are hungry for your business and will do what it takes to keep you as a customer so they are less likely to rip you off.. Plus they are trying to compete with a chain that is advertising and everyone know who they are while the independent is going on word of mouth or minimal advertising.

    Plain and simple, if you are not sure, get a second opinion, just like a doctor… And PLEASE read stuff off the internet with a grain of salt.. 1 person gets pissed and it’s all over the web.. 500 people are very pleased with a business you may never hear about it.

    1 last thing. We recommend services like flushes to prevent future problems, again spend a little now or a lot later.. Oh and for the lady with 300,000 that never did anything and her car still runs fine, lucky you, this can happen but not too often.. I would say don’t ever touch anything now. It’s only a matter of time.

  35. Yeah a good 90% of these “tips” are complete bullshit. I am a mechanic, and I just had a tranny fluid exchange today at 82000 miles, and it completely fixed the lurch I had between 1st and 2nd gear, so they are not “one of the biggest scams”

  36. the machanic i used threw my old parts away without showing them to me, when i asked to see them i was told it was already sent out. now what do i do?

  37. how about if ur car is new and ur still seeing the check engine sign

  38. This article was…….ahem………. Here are a few simple things you may not know that will actually help.

    1) Be nice, I give better deals to people I like
    2) If I refuse to do a smaller repair because it’s not enough to make something safe, it’s not because I want more of your money. I want you and those on the road with you safe. (I will not have a catastrophe on my conscience because I wanted to make a quick buck)  and please use some simple logic…… if all I wanted was money, wouldn’t it make sense to at least make something on the deal versus letting a car go out with a zero dollar invoice?
    3) If you have a warranty concern DON’T feel like you have the right yell and scream. You just might be in the wrong and need non-warrantable work *refer to 1)*
    4) If I say it’s unsafe to drive, it’s UNSAFE to drive. If you decide to drive it anyway, I am obligated to report it after you leave.
    5) If you had a good experience at my shop- write a positive review, I will know who you are and will likely  thank you by discounting services, parts and labor when you need something else.

      1. I’m okay with that as a lot of businesses do that nowadays, it gets them more customers because you’re motivated to rack up discounts. This is normal for companies in almost every industry– like banks that put $25 in customer no. 1’s account because customer no. 2 opened an account & mentioned customer no. 1. Referrals are great.

        1. You’re okay with kickbacks for good reviews? That’s why I always read the bad reviews first. That’s also why I would never pay anyone to work on my computer or my phone.

    1. No. 1 applies in almost every industry. For me, I’m likely to do (simple) extra work without charging you for it because I noticed it needed to be done. I deal with computers and phones, not cars.

  39. Oh the tranny flush thing is right.  You can get by just doing a tranny fliter change.  This is something you can do yourself.  usually 12 to 18 bolts on the bott of the tranny.  you drop that and you drain the fluid in a 5 gal wide bucket or one of those wide pans you can buy at walmart.  it costs usually around 15 to 50 dollars for the filter and new gasket.  Put them on and don’t use more than a dab in 4 corners on the out side if you use glue. ( i recremend you don’t.  you don’t want a valve to get clogged if some gets on the inside).  Then the gasket kit will tell ya how much fluid to buy for your car.  Get the Gallon bottles you will save some money that way.
    for your radiator fluid just buy test strips and check it every time you are going to change your oil.  Then you know if it is good or bad.  Oh that 100k stuff is bad for your engine. GM just settled a lawsuit on it.  It has too low of a PH and literally eats gaskets and metal.

    1. Wow that already sounds like way too much work. I got things to do all day; I don’t have time to sit under my car and get dirty and figure out where all the scary parts go. No thanks–I’ll pay someone else.

      1. With a drill and drain pan you can do it in 30 min. Most of the time is spent putting new fluid in your tranny.

  40. Oh the tranny flush thing is right.  You can get by just doing a tranny fliter change.  This is something you can do yourself.  usually 12 to 18 bolts on the bott of the tranny.  you drop that and you drain the fluid in a 5 gal wide bucket or one of those wide pans you can buy at walmart.  it costs usually around 15 to 50 dollars for the filter and new gasket.  Put them on and don’t use more than a dab in 4 corners on the out side if you use glue. ( i recremend you don’t.  you don’t want a valve to get clogged if some gets on the inside).  Then the gasket kit will tell ya how much fluid to buy for your car.  Get the Gallon bottles you will save some money that way.
    for your radiator fluid just buy test strips and check it every time you are going to change your oil.  Then you know if it is good or bad.  Oh that 100k stuff is bad for your engine. GM just settled a lawsuit on it.  It has too low of a PH and literally eats gaskets and metal.

  41. Oh the tranny flush thing is right.  You can get by just doing a tranny fliter change.  This is something you can do yourself.  usually 12 to 18 bolts on the bott of the tranny.  you drop that and you drain the fluid in a 5 gal wide bucket or one of those wide pans you can buy at walmart.  it costs usually around 15 to 50 dollars for the filter and new gasket.  Put them on and don’t use more than a dab in 4 corners on the out side if you use glue. ( i recremend you don’t.  you don’t want a valve to get clogged if some gets on the inside).  Then the gasket kit will tell ya how much fluid to buy for your car.  Get the Gallon bottles you will save some money that way.
    for your radiator fluid just buy test strips and check it every time you are going to change your oil.  Then you know if it is good or bad.  Oh that 100k stuff is bad for your engine. GM just settled a lawsuit on it.  It has too low of a PH and literally eats gaskets and metal.

  42. Oh the tranny flush thing is right.  You can get by just doing a tranny fliter change.  This is something you can do yourself.  usually 12 to 18 bolts on the bott of the tranny.  you drop that and you drain the fluid in a 5 gal wide bucket or one of those wide pans you can buy at walmart.  it costs usually around 15 to 50 dollars for the filter and new gasket.  Put them on and don’t use more than a dab in 4 corners on the out side if you use glue. ( i recremend you don’t.  you don’t want a valve to get clogged if some gets on the inside).  Then the gasket kit will tell ya how much fluid to buy for your car.  Get the Gallon bottles you will save some money that way.
    for your radiator fluid just buy test strips and check it every time you are going to change your oil.  Then you know if it is good or bad.  Oh that 100k stuff is bad for your engine. GM just settled a lawsuit on it.  It has too low of a PH and literally eats gaskets and metal.

  43. I worked for a dealership that sold factory certified used cars that were never inspected to confirm that the car qualified to be sold as certified. the general manager loves to push certified cars to get factory incentives. 

  44. A test drive is important of course, but replacement of rotors is based upon measurement. There are vehicles out there that need new rotors each time brakes are done, but that is not the norm.  Rotors should always be machined when brake pads are replaced.

    As far as timing belt service, you are correct that water pump should be done at the same time, because you are already in the area. There is a little more time added, but double is not honest.

    We often have people come in for second opinions. Sometimes they are accurate, but many times they are ridiculous, typically coming from a lube type shoppe with some kid that has no idea what he is doing.

    Don’t walk into a mechanics shop and treat the mechanic like he is a crook.  It is ANNOYING. 
    Mechanics prove themselves in repeat customors and good hard work. They DESERVE to be paid for a reputable service.
    But like medical bills, nobody likes to pay the mechanic.

  45. Firstly, what does it mean to “crucify” a car? What kind of nails do you use to make it stay up on the cross?

    Secondly, shops, with very good reason, do not allow civilians to wander around in the garage area. They have a way of falling into grease racks and bumping their head on over-hanging obstructions, and insurance companies get tired of paying for their inattention and downright stupidity. You sound like a prime candidate for just such a mishap…

    1. The last one makes me laugh. Cheap parts from China. A lot of the top manufacturers actually get a lot of their materials now from China because they actually make good stuff! This idea of China making poor quality is now out of date. In fact a lot of the best stuff comes from China!

  46. #20 is a joke.  Car and trucks have to meet a certain criteria set by the manufacturer.  Such as brake pad thickness, tire tread depths, routine maint. etc.  There is some good info in this article, but also a lot of old and outdated info.  Seems like some good scare tactics involved.  

    1. I am so grateful that I had my mechanic. Very honest and sweet man. I have been a loyal customer for seven years. Better make an appointment! He is almost like a celebrity!

  47. A good engine analyzer and a scan tool are only a first step.  These days, many mechanics just use these to tell you what parts they’ll have to replace.  But the tools will sometimes indicate symptoms rather than problems, which means YOU pay for new parts that aren’t needed because your mechanic has abdicated his diagnostic responsibility to his electronic tools.  First thing you should do is insist your mechanic drive the car with you so you know that he knows what problem you are asking him to fix.  That pretty much rules out the 80% of shops that have a Service Advisor between you and the mechanic.  Before agreeing to replace parts get your mechanic to commit in writing that the new part will solve your problem, or he will put the old ones back and not charge you for the parts or labor (always ask for him to save the old parts for you–they are yours!).  That probably rules out 80% of the rest.  Also insist they do another test drive with you when they say the job is done, under the conditions where the problem has occured and before you pay, and take the car back immediately if the problem comes back.

    Bottom line is that you either need to know enough about your car to keep your mechanic honest, or expect to be hosed, repeatedly.  The alternative is to get a new car whenever the warranty is about to expire.       

  48. So… Most dealerships do transmission flushes. Basically using a machine to cycle out the old fluid for new. Required service for most every vehicle on the road. Usually somewhere between 30 and 60K miles…. So the author of this article has not done his homework and should get his car looked at. Unless he drives a Beamer. One of the few cards on the road with “lifetime” transmission fluid. 

    Most of the article is accurate at least. 
     

  49. No manufactures rec transmission flushes?!! Lollololollololol what a load of crap that saying is that actually is a joke right? And your a mechanic? You’d know reading owners manual there’s “non severe” and severe driving and face it man we almost all fall into the “severe” driving. I could name 7 car company’s and the recommended service intervals they want you to service the transmission fluid hell Honda even has letter and number codes when it’s due think someone needs to go back to technician academy.

  50. Only point I disagree on is the certified pre-owned cars.  I work for Toyota and use to work for Mazda.  Certified means a lengthy inspection and parts have to be fixed if the car is to be certified.  In a sense the article is right, little is done to these cars cause most are cherry picked and are already in good or excellent working condition.  Mazda adds 100k mile power train warrenty for certfied cars. 

  51. Some transmissions DO need regular flushes – look at your owner’s manual. This is very stupid piece of advice (that they “almost never” need it). Oh really? Would you rather pay $100-$150 for a flush at recommended intervals, or pay $2500+ for a new tranny?

  52. just clicked on 13 things uour mechanic won’t tell you—-can’t get past the first one
    do I need to register or something?  couldn’ find a place to do so
    love your stuff–tell me how to get it     lazym@coc.net

  53. I started wrenching back in the 70’s Back in the day, I feel we tried to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Sure, there was a lot of a**holes, like always, doing the wrong things. But myself, and fellow tradesman felt that the way to succeed in business, was to go the true and honest route.
    You screw someone on a $100.00 “Brake Job” only to loose a customer for life (Hopefully not theirs) Not to mention the referrals that are worth 10’s of Thousands! Good business is an honest business. Good mechanics are out there. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to change your oil. But it takes a caring professional to keep you and your family SAFE!

  54. Stupid article, made worse by stretching it out over more than a dozen web pages.  Might be useful to someone from a country where there are no automobiles, but anyone else, not so much.
    I think I’ll avoid other RD stories where they give ’10 Tips…’

  55. this would be so much easier to understand if it were laid out in an article.  I cant get past the first image in the slide show.  pos.

  56. This article kind of really sucks. First of all synthetic oil DOES prolong engine life and can have a longer breakdown period than regular oil. There are massive amounts of large fleet studies done on taxis and other public service vehicles that CONSISTENTLY prove this.

    Also changing fluids such as TRANSMISSION fluids are definitely UNDERDONE! Go to any tranny expert and see the difference in the suggested maintenance schedules.

    As far as fuel injector cleaning it is MUCH BETTER to go to a service station. The home purchased crap has many solvents that destroy the seals and parts in your fuel system. This will also do LESS of a job cleaning out the injectors because you did not have a high enough pressure to remove the varnish from the fuel injectors.

  57. WORKED BY A MECHANIC SHOP FOR YEARS, THAT WAS AN EYE OPENER, THEY ARE INTERESTED IN ONE THING YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY AT YOUR COST, STAY AWAY FROM THE LITTLE SHOPS , THEY ALL GUESS AT YOUR EXPENSE, SEEN IT DONE FOR YEARS, STORY WAS IT ALSO NEEDED THAT, B.S.,

  58. I am a master auto tecj for 29+ years and i can tell you that it is not always the mechanic who is to blame. The challenges of the industry is making the do it yourselfers obsolete. They come in telling you they did this or that only to have made it worse costing them or the friend they “helped” alot more than it should have. Everybody wants to save a buck but when you find a good mechanic stick with them and you’ll find they will take better care of you if you are loyal. Free code scans are not diagnostics folks!! Be carefull of who you are tsking advise from.

    1. LOL I can certainly understand where you’re coming from. As an IT professional, it annoys me when people tell me what they think is wrong & what they did to fix it because most aren’t as knowledgeable as they think they are and now I have to do more work to fix it which costs them more money.

  59. The same tactics are used by the Medical profession.  Your tests show you have Cancer. 
    While the patient is in shock, the professional mal-practioner looks him in the eye and pressures him for immediate Chemo and Radiation that no one has ever been cured by such toxic chemicals.
    The Cancer Institute is cure rate is flat (0).  Remission is not Cure.
    In the end, the average cost of Cancer treatment is $900,000.00 plus the cost of average $12,000.00 for the funeral.
    In Tijuana, Mexico the average cost of Cancer treatment is $3,600.00 and an average of 87% Cure rate. 

  60. Who the hell wrote this? I would like to see this persons “certifications” also. 

    A perfect example of total ignorance…

  61. Always always always read your owner’s manual.  I’m a mechanic and one of the first questions I ask is “Are you following the maintenance schedule?”  Most of the time, my customers just stare blankly and usually say, “I don’t know if I even have my owner’s manual.”

    1. It’s annoying that in new vehicles (like our Pilot) they don’t even tell you the intervals anymore. You just have to wait until the “maintenance reminder” tells you its time to do A, B and C.

  62. The person who wrote this doesn’t know the difference between a mechanic and an automotive repair shop. A mechanic actually repairs cars. An automotive repair shop is a business that employs mechanics and has salespeople to push you into spending as much money as possible. I am an ASE Master Technician and I’ve worked for dealers, independent shops and chains. They can/will all screw you but the worst by far are the chain shops followed closely by the dealer. With independents it’s a toss up. At a good independent garage the person you will be speaking with when you walk through the door is the owner and service writer and is also a mechanic. Generally one who got sick of working for everyone else and decided to open his own garage. That is the place you want to go but good luck finding one especially if you live in the city because most people have the same mentality as the person who wrote this. People think that a big expensive building that’s spotlessly clean with a name they’ve heard on TV and people wearing white shirts standing behind a counter when they walk through the door means it’s professional therefore better. In the automotive repair industry big, expensive and professional does not equal quality and definitely doesn’t equal honesty. The best garages are generally 2-3 man operations and are very seldom clean. The good ones also almost never buy parts from places like Advanced or AutoZone. I could break down why almost every one of these are wrong by number and I may very well do so when I have the time but for now I’ll just say that if you don’t know of a good small shop then take it to the dealer because chains will screw you over and sell you stuff you don’t need every time. I love taking my own personal car somewhere to get tires installed and them telling me all the things that need to be done to my car right away. I pull out my ASE card and they go hide.

  63. @ Ben – Your response is spot on – the advice here is horribly general and in some cases wrong.

    If you are ever in doubt, take your car to a dealer.  Yes, you’ll pay more, and no, not all dealers are perfect but the difference is that you have recourse with a dealer as you can escalate a problem all the way to the manufacturer.  Chuck’s Auto Repair does you wrong, the end of the line is Chuck.

    Be very wary of nationwide chains.  Took my Honda to Jiffy Lube a few years back, they drained the engine oil, and put five quarts of oil into the transmission.  Fought them for six months, and ended up selling the car as it was ruined.  By not using the Honda dealer, I saved about $12.

    After that, I always go the dealer except for brakes, tires, alignment, and muffler work.

    I am not in the car business, I do not have an ownership stake in any car dealership.

  64. I don’t know what they meant by a brake for under $100.00. If they are talking about just replacing worn brake pads, this can be done with a mechanic for under $100.00. The only exception is if you are replacing both the Front & Rear break pads then it would cost $200.00 They don’t need to be done at the same time. I think some of these break shops do fine. Each Mechanic & shop may vary on cost. I had a break shop that did all for $50.00 without any problems but he retired.  My mechanic has been around for a long time & is always busy. You got to wait a week or more to get into his shop. My mechanic garage is not horrible but it is not real clean.

  65. This article slams “mechanics” when the real culprit to most fraud is the shop owner.  The owner is the one who will lie cheat and steal from you. The majority of techs are honest hard working and willing to do whatever they can to get your car repaired properly at the lowest cost.

  66. I have a shop in Delaware and we are scrupulous in our dealings with customers. Though we are not perfect we DO have the customers best interests at heart. If we screw up we make it right. 

    I have been in this industry (auto repair) for 40 years and I have seen a lot of trends come and go. Although one pattern has been consistent. A consistently busy shop is a good shop. A shop that operates with integrity as a guiding principal will be busy because it permeates everything they do. From the telephone professionalism to the front counter service advisors to the people doing the work in the back. If the management are straight shooters it will trickle down to (or end up weeding out) employees in the shop .  

    FOR A GOOD SHOP THERE IS MORE THAN ENOUGH LEGITIMATE WORK OUT THERE.     

  67. I work at a dealership. Our certified pre-owned cars are picked though by a state inspector. They write down anything that fails the ispection and write down things that are close to failing. So certified preowned cars are a good deal.
    I would highly recommend OEM parts. After working with a few car lines, I’ve seen my fair share of aftermarket parts that are universal and require the mechanic to modify the part to work. With OEM, you get a part that fits your car and made just for your car.
    Just ask around on who your friends take their car too and do the research on the shop. The advantage with going to the dealer is that the mechanics know your car inside and out. That’s what they are trainned to do.

  68. Good now you and your brother are two fools… You are driving with worthless fluids and you wore out your car.  Your car is junk and you lie.

  69. Tires that are 3 years old are no big deal.  Wrong! About two-thirds of shelf life left with current U.S. ozone damage. Tires  must be tossed after five years exposed on the rim and are deadly on heavy trucks.  They shred like early Firestones on Ford SUV’s and will kill you and others after five years on the vehicle regardless of tire height.  Don’t drive it, what-so-ever.

  70. Tires that are 3 years old are no big deal.  Wrong! About two-thirds of shelf life left with current U.S. ozone damage. Tires  must be tossed after five years exposed on the rim and are deadly on heavy trucks.  They shred like early Firestones on Ford SUV’s and will kill you and others after five years on the vehicle regardless of tire height.  Don’t drive it, what-so-ever.

  71. 8. Coolant flushes and power steering flushes…
    …are very common gimmicks at quick lubes. Check your owner’s manual; many cars have fluid that is designed to go 100,000 miles. And cleaning fuel injectors is a waste of time and money. There are additives on the market that do a great job.
    Failure to flush will cause loss of head gasket and destroyed or/and noisy steering system.    The steering fluid reservoir is only one quart or less and is so simple to do.  Do it every other year.  You will be happy.

  72. Mechanics are human beings that for the most part lost in their oun understanding just like engineers not being abel to agree with one another about a solution. Find one withcharacter and talent and you have a good deal all around.

  73. Of all the cars I’ve owned over the years, I’ve had my transmission flushed 2x’s…and both times, the transmissions went out months later.  Will I ever do it again?  Certainly not!! 

  74. Maintenance really depends on driving habits and conditions, so the schedule in the book is only a guide. You may need maintenance sooner and changing fluids more often is better than waiting too long just to squeeze a few extra bucks out of transmission fluid. Trying to save money by deferring maintenance is just gonna cost money in the long run. Transmission flushes are not a scam, and in fact are endorsed my some manufacturers. I, in fact bought my flush machine from the local ford dealer. It works well to flush transmissions in extreme service vehicles.

    1. If you really need something then good, sell it . Let the shop/tech live with their conscience…

  75. Transmission flush’s ARE recommended by some manufacturers and are definitely needed, especially if you do a lot of towing and mountain driving.    

  76. As a 25yr ASE certified Master tech I can agree with most but not all,Too many variables to make good commentary to this article

  77. I do disagree with the comment about ” Transmission Flushes.” I have driven my Mazda B 4000 Pickup over 300,000 miles. I did a Transmission Flush every 30,000 miles. It STILL runs and pulls great. I have NEVER had to rebuild or replace it. You can NOT get that out of a car or truck with out doing this. I am a Technician and I know this NEEDS to be done

    1. My brother got 350k miles on his Toyota without doing a single one.  He sold it with no problems ever! My 99 Honda still has original radiator and clutch fluids!   I have saved several thousand dollars skipping scheduled maint! I repairs have only been rear brake lines and a power steering line!

      1. Some people never brush their teeth and they still have them. That does not mean it is a good idea.

  78. A KEY to finding a Great Mechanic is look on his or her shirt. If you see a Blue and White Patch that says ” ASE Certified Automotive Technician” , You have found a Great Technician.

  79. Brake Shops like ” Just Brakes ” and ” Brake Check ” in Texas are Managed by Salesmen. They (the Manager/ Salesmen) know NOTHING about mechanics or automotive technology. They are SALESMEN. If they tell you ” You Need This” Don’t buy it. They only want to increase their ticket price. By the way. These places use the CHEAPEST Brake Parts on the Market.

    1. Many of them have been sued for this. In Miami stay away from Tire Kingdom. very dishonest people.

  80. My ” Sun Tune Engine Diagnostice Machine and computer system cost over $25,000. It is wrth the investment. It prevent mis diagnosis’ of engine problems that can end up costing ME.

  81. A ” Dirty Shop” is the sign of amatures and ” Shade Tree mechanics. ” They are bad for us who work hard for our trade.

  82. I own A Affordable Auto Service & Sales in Jonesboro Ar. I have NEVER used ” Scare Tactics.”

  83. SOME GOOD POINTS HOW EVER THEY ARE VERY WRONG ABOUT THE FLUSHES. ALMOST EVERY MANUFACTURER RECOMMENDS COOLANT FLUSHES AT MINIMUM EVERY 60 MONTHS. GM STATED THAT THEIR DEX-COOL COOLANT WAS GOOD FOR 100K MILES BUT I THINK THAT WAS DIS-PROVED AFTER A CLASS ACTION LAW SUITE. WE ACTUALLY SAW THAT COOLANT CAUSE PRE-MATURE FAILURES QUITE FREQUENTLY, AS A MECHANIC I WAS GOING TO PUT THEM ON MY CHRISTMAS CARD LIST FOR THEIR DEX-COOL. VERY WRONG ABOUT THE TRANSMISSION FLUSHES. BMW IS THE ONLY MANUFACTURER I AM AWARE OF THAT HAS A LIFE TIME FLUID. OTHERS USUALLY RECOMMEND IT BEFORE 100K.  TRANSMISSIONS USUALLY FAIL FROM BEING OVERHEATED. WHEN A TRANS IS OVER HEATED BY 20 DEGREES THE FLUID LOOSES 50% OF ITS VISCOSITY ( THAT IS STRAIGHT FROM THE A.S.E. AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION STUDY GUIDE) AS THE FLUID LOOSES VISCOSITY THE TRANS BEGINS TO SLIP CREATING MORE HEAT ITS JUST A DOWNWARD SPIRAL. POWER STEERING FLUID IS VERY SIMILAR TO TRANS FLUID. SOME MANUFACTURES USE TRANS FLUID FOR POWER STEERING, SO NO REDUNDANCY NEEDED THERE. FUEL INJECTION SERVICES ARE COMMONLY RECOMMENDED EVERY 20K. THE BIGGEST ADVANTAGE TO FUEL INJECTION SERVICES AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED IS TO REMOVE CARBON FROM THE BACK OF THE VALVES. CARBON DEPOSITS WILL PREVENT THE VALVE FROM SEALING PROPERLY AND WILL ALSO CAUSE DETONATION THAT CAN DO SIGNIFICANT PISTON DAMAGE. I KNOW THIS SERVICE WORKS BECAUSE I HAVE SEEN PROVEN RESULTS OF THIS FROM BEFORE AND AFTER SMOG TESTS.  IN MY OPINION DO THE FLUSHES ITS A LOT CHEAPER THAN REPLACING COMPONENTS. BUT IF YOU DONT DO THE RECOMMENDED SERVICES AS AN A.S.E. CERTIFIED MASTER TECH I THANK YOU.

    1. You make sense– I’ve never gotten a reasonable answer on why I should do a transmission flush (never had it recommended, I was just curious), but because of you, I’ll likely get one soon. My car is a 2008 & has never had a trans flush. I can’t remember the mileage, but I drive a lot. Unlike the brake fluid & power steering flushes I intend on doing myself, I’ll probably let a professional do the trans flush.

      1. Flushing trans will add many years to transmission life. While you have it in the shop, do yourself a favor and change the differential fluid every 75000 or so. Fluids do “wear out” and fresh fluids add lots of life to your car. One of the cheapest investments you can make and will really pay off !

      2. Not recommended to flush /replace fluid if trany has a lot of miles like more than 100K and was never flushed. Sometimes this will make the trany fail. Fact not fiction. Better do your flush at around 60-K.

    2. Good points. But customers can but Chevron etc fuel cleaners and pour it on the tank every 6 months or so and keep injectors and valves spotless

      Master ASE 35 years

  84. Most of these tips are pretty dangerous. Seems like the author has been burned pretty bad by a less than reputable tech. You really need to learn to respect and trust your mechanic. We are trained to spot problems that the untrained eye never sees. So many of these tips are ridiculous. You get your trans flushed because the fluid breaks down and overheats which means your transmission will overheat and need to be replaced. If we tell you you need brakes but you dont have any noises so you just ignore that, then you end up having to spend more money than you would have because now you waited and damaged the rotors too. I could go on forever on any particular part of your vehicle, point is, we are here to keep your vehicle working safely and properly.
    We are not all scam artists. Agreed though to watch out for cheap brake jobs, there are some bad pads out there. just ask what they are using and where they get it. Do the homework first. Cheap oil changes are okay, they do get you in to check for other problems, however most places dont create jobs out of thin air. The oil changes are being done by low payed workers so they arent loosing money on that anyways. The best thing you can do is find a tech you like and stick with him or her for life. Get to know them, ask lots of questions about the problems. A good mechanic will take time to talk with you. Dont waste your time with the people up front taking your money with technical questions. They will generally just steer you wrong and tell you what they think you want to hear.

  85. 8. On direct injection motors cleaning injectors is a waste of time and money? There is your first outright lie, what is that based on? 

    1. No expert on direct injection yet but I can see that possibly being true since it operates at 30,000psi I think.

      1. on diesel trucks that are using HEUI and common rail fuel injection systems they come out at around 30,000 psi but on your gasoline engions you are injecting at around 30-40 psi so you are pretty off on your specifications there bud

        1. only cummins commo rail fuel system injection pressure is around 30,000 psi, Heui is around 3500

  86. As for number 25 on the list (trans flushes). Completely inaccurate. If you wait too long, chances are that when you take your 200,000 mile minivan in for a trans service, the cleaning properties of the new fluid and added flow of the new filter will deteriorate the material on the bands inside your trans. Had this happen numerous times. 
    As for having metal shavings in your pan..Shavings are bad, metallic sediment is ok. No, don’t put in a new tranny if your still shifts fine… Come on…

  87. I look at the paper work. If they don’t have the organization to write everything down, then there not a very good shop are they? Hell, they could be hiding thing for all I know, that is why it is important to write everything down. A clean shop is a must! If you don’t clean your shop once a week, I don’t want you working on my car. (It goes double for body shops) Check your owners manual for service recommendations, as if your a penny pincher the manual reads to change oil every 7,000 miles or timing belts every 105,000, which can save you money, and in theory, without damage to your car.

    If you don’t change your break fluids due to the fluids hygroscopic tendencies you will get water in the chamber and you breaks will feel spongy as the fluid boils upon breaking. It’s the same as having air in your lines. (follow your manual) Coolant builds electolights and causes corrosion in your radiator, some cars are worse than others so check you manual.

    When your light comes on it is usually a bad o2 sensor. You can use the scan tool at your auto parts store to read that. The check engine light usually refers to a emissions related issue.

    I don’t like this 13 things a car mechanic won’t tell you. I get angry when I have to help some one take their car to the shop. They just end up second and third guessing me. It really makes me not want to deal with the idiots that takes things like this to heart.

  88.  There are SO many things in this article that I disagree with.  None more than look for a clean and tidy shop.  There are very many repair shops in my neighborhood.  The “tidy” shops are the ones that the guys have enough time to constantly sweep and scrub.  The best shops in town have so much demand for their work that the mechanics are expected to only make repairs, and they have a “future prospect” come in at the end of the day to sweep and clean up tools.

    Here is the best advice I can offer to anyone looking for a new repair shop.  Besides asking many friends and family who they trust, look in the parking lot.  Is it empty, or are there cars lined up out the door for service.  Just like home remodeling, there is always someone that can start right away.  There is a reason for that…  The shops that have a reputation for honest and quality work are the shops where customers will wait a day or two to get the shop they trust to do the work.  Also, when there is work lined up out the door, that is a shop that won’t be selling you on un needed work, because they want to get your car done, so they can move on to the next one…  and they don’t want yours back in because it wasn’t done right the first time.  They only want to see you back next time you are due for service!

    All in all, I get the impression that this was written by someone who thinks they know cars, but really knows nothing more than how to present their opinion as fact.  I really hope more people are smart enough to raise an eyebrow to this, and use word of mouth to find their shop.

  89. I disagree with the tire age “tip”.  The tires on the front of my car are at least 11 years old, and still hold air just fine.  However, I keep the sidewalls clean, I keep the air pressure at the proper level, and I don’t abuse them.  They are however, on their last legs.  Use a good rubber cleaner/treatment on the sidewalls a couple of times a year, it makes a difference (both sides).  Somebody just wants to sell more tires.

  90. coolant flushes and power steering flushes are not gimmicks just cause its designed to last a certain mileage does not mean these fluids usually do or are not dirty. tires that are 3 years old are no big deal as they are recommended to be removed from service after 10 which usually don’t last that long on the car anyway. mufflers nowadays should last the life of the car only if they are made out of stainless steel. and engine problems don’t require fancy equipment because they all have the same components.

    1. You can test your coolant even extended life. but if you have the Extended life I would recommend changing it all out to the old green. The Extended Life junk has a low ph around 6 to 6.5.  Most of your systems work better with the green because it is usually near 8ph.  So it doesn’t disolve the metal in your engine like the extended life.  If you want to read more on it look at the lawsuit on extended life for this reason.   I do agree a car Mechanic don’t need a ton of special equipment but cars are getting closer and closer to computer and emission controls like diesel semi’s and trucks.  So eventually they will need to have the specs from manufactures and testers beyond just a DVM.  Also if your doing preventive care as well then specialty costs go up even more.  So just wait cars days of having a catalyst and DEF are coming. especially with Ethonal puting oxygen in a gas engine and making more NOx type gases.

      1. Well if you consider more than $1000 expensive, then yes expensive equipment is necessary to diagnose and repair vehicles today. From diagnosing a check engine light on a a 1996 chevy Blazer to doing a relearn procedure after replacing an iac valve. The Mechanic with only a DVOM will cost you more money and time overall.

  91. If your check engine light comes on, most auto part stores such as Autozone have a computer they will hook up to your vehicle for free and tell you what the error codes are in hope you will buy the new parts from them.  Always do this before taking your vehicle to a shop to be repaired.

    1. Error codes will often not tell you what part needs to be replaced, only what you need to further diagnose. Example, and oxygen sensor code is usually not a bad oxygen sensor  usually it was triggered because the sensor was warning the computer of a problem like the engine running lean, which could be a fuel pump or several other things. Their is a reason shops charge as much as we do, we have the experience and tools to figure this out. Or you can just buy parts you may not need and throw them in a hole. 

  92. Those extremely cheap oil changes you see advertised around town?  They’re there to get you in so they can tear up and crucify your car.  Also, if you’re in a community, county, or what-not that does smog  or emissions checks, DO NOT go to a place that does more then that.  A lot of them will intentionally fail your car and claim you need everything under the sun to correct it, especially if it’s a “special” price.  Also, that extremely cheap oil change, if you absolutely have to have it, ask what oil they use and stand right there to make sure they do mothing more to your car.

    1. I usually take my car to this one place for an oil change & its about $60. I stopped going to them because I bought a Groupon– 3 oil changes for $30 w/ the customer paying extra for different oil or if their car takes more than the allotted amount (of course, my car fits in this…lol). So, I took my car for the 2nd oil change 2 days ago & noticed this place advertises $16 oil changes. Immediately, I said ooooooh, but then I started wondering why there’s such a disparity in the prices.

      The $60 place changes the oil/filter, vacuums my car, checks/fills all of the liquids, checks my wipers, checks my air filter, makes sure my tires are properly inflated, and hits the reset button on the miles until next oil change counter in my car. If anything needs to be changed, they will call to alert me. The $16 place (I’m still under my Groupon) changes the oil, that’s it. I need to look to see if they change the filter although I do believe that was part of the job. The people in both places are nice, but you have to make an appointment with the $16 people whereas you can just show up with the $60 people.

      I could pay the $16 once my Groupon is up and maintain everything else myself, but I’m forgetful and inflating my tires is an inconvenience (even though I monitor the levels daily via my dashboard panel). Plus, I’m not ever going to vacuum my car despite having all of the equipment to do so. lol

    2. that is probably why the DMV here (CA) requires to go to Smog Test ONLY station , when it’s time to get that smog test every 2 years. Not only could the alternative be unscrupulous to “find problems” that don’t exist but also to take a little bit of $$ on the sly to make it pass.

    3. It’s impossible to see everything a Mechanic is doing to your car unless you’re doing the repair with them. In that case you might as well do the repair yourself. If you’re really that p noid, learn to repair your own car and buy the needed tools. Problem solved

  93.  This advice is horribly general and at best wrong. That said, a general rule of thumb does emerge if one looks at all 13 tips; do your research. Knowledge is power, and this applies to any situation in which you are paying for the services of a specialist in a field about which you know little. Mechanics are certainly no exception! Thus the truth in tips 2, 3, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 12. Ask questions and get answers from multiple sources.

    However, so much else is so general as to be generally false. I will give a few examples to keep this post short. 1.  “Admonitions like ‘I wouldn’t drive this another mile’ should be viewed with suspicion.” Suspicion, yes. Risky? Even more so. Failing car parts can be anything from a nuisance to imminent catastrophe. This tip says to “Watch out” for scare tactics, but tells you to go with high quality brake pads later on. What’s worse, sub par parts or failed parts driving to the next shop against the advise of a mechanic?

     5.“nuts to take a car with engine problems to a shop without a good engine analyzer and scan tool.” Only a quibble here, which won’t apply to most readers of this article: while the majority of cars on the road today do have computers which require corresponding tech tools, there are still plenty of drivers in older “classic” vehicles. Thankfully most of you know who you are and what your vehicle’s needs are. And don’t get concerned about this when you’re taking your car for new windshield wipers. The engine computers don’t track this. On the same note, tip #13. It’s not okay for your ‘check engine’ light to stay on all the time. It’s probably not ‘a loose gas cap.’ Basically, the tip is good. But loose gas caps will trigger the light. Honestly. First find a mechanic you trust, then ask him WHY the light is on, and understand his explanation, possible fix options, and probable consequences. The Check Engine light should always be in good working condition, but does not always mean your car is going to implode.

    And finally, just for fun I’ll take a poke at the second half of #3. “Look for a clean garage. A floor cluttered with empty oil cans, worn tires, and dirty rags is a red flag.” Yes, in general, tidy workspaces point toward a more professional, meticulous mechanics that you want. However, I’ve seen a number of “chain” shops that are spotless only because company regs require it and a good number of their employees have few skills beyond pushing a broom. Go back to the research. Spend time getting to know your mechanic and his/her references. Quit looking at a 45 second slideshow and hoping these tips are going to actually replace any part of the actual knowledge needed to help you maintain your car, one of the most expensive, dangerous, and important investments you have in your life.

    1. You say “do your research” and I wonder how best to do that given every friend you know whose went to a mechanic has basically been unhappy with them,   sometimes happy sometimes not, a crap shoot in other words,  or they’ve gone to the dealer which is so darn pricey.  I don’t care if a place is messy…I used to work at a glass shop that was swamped always and the owner was SO disorganized BUT he and the journeyman glazier working for him cared about doing right by the customer first and the shop second….I would like to find a mechanic that I can really trust and have yet in 30 years found one I can honestly say I trusted.

      1. Problem is that I have seen people try to blame mechanics for a starter going bad when you change the oil.  Most peoples problems with mechanics is ignorance and no ambition to get off their lazy bums and learn some basics about cars.  When you ask a driver how you remove a tire and they don’t  have a clue means you have gullible person who doesn’t know a things when you take your car in.  Also if you like dealerships to do the work, bring in your own parts or ask for pricing in after market parts.  this will save you hundreds of dollars sometimes.
        Also I don’t go with the whole synthetic thing all the time. Some cars and especially older ones you may want to do nothing more than a blend. Also why would you want to wait longer on changing oil. The more often you change it the better it is for your engine since it is the oil that cleans it.

      2. Problem is that I have seen people try to blame mechanics for a starter going bad when you change the oil.  Most peoples problems with mechanics is ignorance and no ambition to get off their lazy bums and learn some basics about cars.  When you ask a driver how you remove a tire and they don’t  have a clue means you have gullible person who doesn’t know a things when you take your car in.  Also if you like dealerships to do the work, bring in your own parts or ask for pricing in after market parts.  this will save you hundreds of dollars sometimes.
        Also I don’t go with the whole synthetic thing all the time. Some cars and especially older ones you may want to do nothing more than a blend. Also why would you want to wait longer on changing oil. The more often you change it the better it is for your engine since it is the oil that cleans it.

      3. Problem is that I have seen people try to blame mechanics for a starter going bad when you change the oil.  Most peoples problems with mechanics is ignorance and no ambition to get off their lazy bums and learn some basics about cars.  When you ask a driver how you remove a tire and they don’t  have a clue means you have gullible person who doesn’t know a things when you take your car in.  Also if you like dealerships to do the work, bring in your own parts or ask for pricing in after market parts.  this will save you hundreds of dollars sometimes.
        Also I don’t go with the whole synthetic thing all the time. Some cars and especially older ones you may want to do nothing more than a blend. Also why would you want to wait longer on changing oil. The more often you change it the better it is for your engine since it is the oil that cleans it.

        1. When you go to a doctor do you bring your own medical supplies ? When you get your hair cut do you bring your own scissors and razor ? When you go out to dinner do you bring your own food ? No dealer worth their salt is going to use your junk, made in China parts to do a repair.

          1. Parts are not the same as tools, so your analogy doesn’t really hold. Mechanics don’t have issues providing their own tools. But a hair stylist will often require you to bring your own extensions. A doctor performing a transplant may need you to provide a donor.

            The food analogy.. actually, that one kinda works. I would liken a mechanic who uses your parts to a personal chef.

      4. I’m a retired automotive engineer & was an apprentice mechanic 50 years ago. I have actually found one (count ’em, 1) mechanic I trust- a place in Vancouver, WA called Service Now. I stopped in because I noticed his parking lot was ALWAYS crammed. He was on the phone & while I waited, I heard him talk a customer out of spending money with him.

        I needed help a few weeks later with a blown Toyota V6 head gasket & Dave spent 10 minutes explaining the steps he takes to prevent a recurrence. I found his reasoning very convincing & had him do the work. A few weeks later I had a small leak in the FI system & he insisted on fixing it- said (correctly) that it could cause a fire. Said he was almost certain it was unrelated to his earlier work, but offered to split the cost with me. FWIW, I think Dave is smart, thoughtful, caring, experienced & honest- nice to find in a trade that’s rife with ignorance and rip-off artists.

      1. I am a mechanic, ASE Master Certified at that and Ben’s first sentence pretty much says it all.

        1. question for you …Can A Goodyear service a bmw or only bmw dealer because of computer in car? thanks

          1. This one probably should have been included in the article. The notion that ONLY the dealer is qualified to work on your car is hogwash. Just as the notion that ONLY the dealer is qualified to work on your washing machine; etc., etc.. A good mechanic is a good mechanic. And yes; I am an ASE certified master mechanic, 50 years experience. I’ve worked in every type of shop imaginable, including several dealerships. I’ve worked some very honest shops. I’ve worked in places that were so dishonest that I couldn’t sleep at night, just thinking about some of the things that my shop pulled. In my experience, a mechanic at the dealership is; as a rule of thumb; NO better than anywhere else, and just as often are the MOST incompetent and/or dishonest. Without mentioning names – I even worked at ONE dealership where I witnessed good mechanics being fired for refusing to cheat customers!

    2. im sorry but im a ASE Master Certified Technician and i think these are all valid thoughts except one!! transmission flushes number 25. yes its true that some company’s don’t require a flush. but a lot do. if its dirty or discolored or especially if its not slick its kind of gritty, it should be replaced if you want it to last. ive seen them go out bad fluid and a little to hard on them = bad. solenoids can start sticking or torque converter could fail which is very expensive. trans-x awesome stuff if you have problems most manufactures recommend a flush at 80 to 100k. some even recommend the filter to be replaced as well. i do not believe in replacing filters personally however though because they make the filter big enough to filter out the debre big enough for the transmission. in other words if it clogs up you dont have any transmission left. Also keep in mind additives deplete overtime even synthetic additives which are very important because the detergents keep partials sustained in the fluid so it can go threw the filter rather than plug passageways

      1. Honda recommends that the tranny not be “FLUSHED” by a machine, that might be what they mean. I spent 30 on good ole Honda transmission fluid ,dropped the plug, drained, and refilled. Good as new again. I saved 60+ and a bad headache by listening to Honda’s recommendation.

  94. And an estimate today doesn’t mean it’s gonna be that price tomorrow. Some mechanics are lazy and instead of really doing the job for the actual part needed, they just rather replace everything and tell you that it was no good, then charge you more money. Some of us DIY’ers at times don’t want to do it all the time and are willing to pay the extra dollar for labor, but when your mechanic says it’s falling apart when it really isn’t, then doing it yourself is really the better choice.  This happened to me… est from shop $288. when I brought it in for the repair, they claim it’s all rusted and falling apart and you need to replace this too, then the cost jumped to $617.  Well of course I said no.. so I did it myself and saved $447.

    1. And so you have discovered the law of economics; when you do it yourself, YOU are providing the service and so it is free. When a professional provides a service they have other costs, like advertising, liability insurance, building expense, workmen’s comp and the cost of customer service. So YES it is cheaper to do it yourself. Just like buying a steak at a grocery store and cooking it is cheaper than going to a fine restaurant is cheaper. WHY? Because YOU are you’re own waiter, cook and busboy for the night.

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