Question #4

 

I took my car to a mechanic who gave me an estimate of $2,000 for a long list of items. I just couldn’t afford it so I told him no thanks and he charged me a fee for checking the car. Was that right? Estelle

 Answer:

This is one of those subjects that really gets the hair up on the back of my neck.

I know it’s a common practice because it frequently happens to my customers when they’re out of town, or I get a call from someone who found us because of our good reviews and they want to remove the car from a shop they don’t trust. I find this practice to be shifty and I never do it. The only time I will charge someone is if in order to figure out the issue, we have had to spend significant time to investigate i.e. – basically really tear something apart. I find that garages will charge this fee just to pull someone’s wheel off and tell them they need brakes, if the customer decides not to do the job. So while I can’t really give much advice on what to do AFTER they’ve looked at the car and now you’re stuck (I guess I would say be nice and try to negotiate it down), what I would suggest is that BEFORE they touch your car, ask them if there is a charge to check. Often this problem arises when you’ve been towed into an unknown shop and they know they’ve “got you”. If possible call them before you get towed and ask them, since they’ll want you to come to their shop, there’s a chance they’ll say NO and then at least you can hold them to it. Good Luck!

Questions: dontgetwrenched@gmail.com

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About dontgetwrenched

Elayne Kling, was the owner of a downtown Manhattan auto repair shop for 25 years and recently in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, www.ZPAUTO.com. Elayne knows the particular ins and outs of the auto repair world and keeps up her blog because people will always need help navigating the potential pitfalls of that world. Due to the crazy NYC real estate market she has since closed down her shop and started a new business called Projects Unlimited Inc., helping other small businesses. www.projectsunlimitedinc.com
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