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How to avoid car repair scams and upsells

Posted at 4:56 PM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 11:31:05-05

TULSA, Okla. — An automotive expert and his son are looking to help people understand how to deal with car dealers and mechanics to avoid getting taken advantage of.

Ray Shefska is an auto expert with YAA, Your Advocate Alliance.

>> See more from Your Advocate Alliance

Shefska and his son Zach stream an automotive advice show every week.

"If you start to know that the process is going to be, you can feel a lot more empowered going into that,” Zach Shefska says.  

They recommend drivers read their owner's manual, search Google for repair information, and connect with online repair forums, many specific to their vehicle.

It's good to know what work should be done at certain times, and mileage readings as well as learning a few of the diagnostic codes that could show up when mechanics hook your vehicle up to a computer and ask what they found.

If a costly job is recommended, experts say drivers may want a second opinion — a diagnostic at a different shop — even if it costs you an extra diagnostic charge, which can average around $130.

"That $130 could end up being the best $130 you've ever spent because you might find out you really didn't need the $3,000 worth of work somebody was trying to sell you," Ray Shefska says.

John called the 2 News Oklahoma Problem Solvers to talk about his experience getting an older vehicle up and running again.

"Very frustrating, very frustrating."

John says knows a little about cars, but after getting burned by one repair, he started asking friends and family who they trust as a mechanic, which experts say, is a good start.

"Anytime you bring a car in for service, if you don't understand exactly what should be done or is scheduled to be done, you open yourself up to someone trying to convince you that you need something that you really may not."

At some point though, expensive repairs can't be avoided, which John, unfortunately, found out.

"I'll trade my car in and get something newer."

He says he doesn't keep driving into that deep money repair pit.

Here’s more information on some of the most common repair upsells to be aware of:

  • If a trusted mechanic recommends brakes don't question it, but if you're dealing with a new one, get a second opinion.
  • Timing belts are sometimes another upsell. They're critical, but usually don't need to be replaced until 50-thousand miles. If it's recommended before the manufacturer's schedule, ask why.
  • Beware of flushes and transmission service recommendations. Unless there's a specific problem, experts say they're probably not necessary until at least 100,000.

Contact the Problem Solvers:

  • 918-748-1502

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