How Some Auto Repair Garages Hide Their Brake Repair Scam & What You Can Do About It
Brake repair scams come in many flavors
Earlier this week, we learned how these quick lube-type chain service centers are fooling their customers with a fake brake repair that didn’t need to be done. Today we’re going to learn about a variation of this scam that probably happens even more frequently — hiding a bogus brake repair in your vehicle’s service documents.
Here’s how the scam works: You go to an auto service center with an obvious problem that even those less inclined to mechanics can see is broken and in need of repair. Let’s say a broken axle for example.
After your vehicle has been towed to the service center or garage and a technician or mechanic has had time to examine the damage, the clipboard manager returns with the news that the axle is. broken and you also have some damage to the front which will most likely require alignment after all repairs are done. You knew it was going to be bad, so you ignore the Karma and sign the reparation agreement.
A few days later, you get a call saying your car is fixed and you’re ready to go. You find the car looks good and when you get in and out it looks definitely fixed and you attribute the whole experience to the cost of owning a car. And, since the garage or service center was successful in the repair, you feel like you made the right choice about who will repair your car. That last element is the beauty of the scam — the ability to build trust and shake up a customer at the same time.
What happened — as the video below will show — is that the garage or service center snuck into a brake repair job in the billing with the backup lie (if necessary) that the front end was damaged by the broken axle and other front end components included damage to the brakes — hence an addition of brake work to the work. It’s hidden there, prominently in your papers.
The customer unasked question that should have been asked is, “What exactly did you fix and what about the brakes?” But most of us don’t ask our mechanic those kinds of questions. When we hear “brake work” we usually think of the typical brake pad, rotor or drum problem scenario we’ve had before and know roughly how much it will cost.
The reality of this scenario — and there are a lot of stories like this — is that “braking work” was a way to pay off the repair bill for a bigger, more expensive problem. that the garage solved, but then that easily fool their customer at the same time. In the video below, you will see how a garage subsequently got caught with the fake repair scam.
To watch! Don’t delay this repair on Tacoma
How to protect yourself
This video was a good demonstration of the importance of checking out the work you’ve paid for either while your car is still in the service center or garage if possible, or at the very least shortly afterwards at your home.
As you saw in the video, the “braking” job was easily discovered to be rigged. The brake fluid was clearly old and not new; and, the brake components and surrounding area were clearly intact, as indicated by the intact dirt and grime around the brakes. Apparently, in this scam, some braking job can be as simple as filling up the brake fluid when the reservoir is a bit low. But I doubt that a small claims court would agree with a service center or garage on that rationale. Either way, it’s up to customers to hold these companies accountable. Therefore, you should at least take a look to see if the job has been done, rather than blindly following what you are told.
Another point of the video is that you should always insist on looking at the final invoice before paying and asking the manager or mechanic to show you what they did during the repairs. If they’re honest then that’s okay and not even considered rude by an honest garage or service center. I have received several comments from honest mechanics who admit that scams unfortunately exist and encourage customers to inspect their work.
If you’ve been scammed with a padded auto repair / service bill, let us know so others can learn how to protect themselves from similar scams. We value the feedback and experience of others.
TO BE CONTINUED: Which ride should you choose – 2WD, 4WD or 4WD?
Timothy Boyer is a reporter for Torque News Tesla and EV based in Cincinnati. Experienced in early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for better performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily news from Tesla and electric vehicles.