Q: How can you avoid getting ripped off when getting your car repaired?
A: It’s a common concern, to be sure. According to a 2016 AAA survey, two out of three car owners don’t trust auto-repair shops.
The late Ken Purdy, among the best automotive writers of his time, wrote about a mechanic who called himself “Honest Eddie.” He wouldn’t steal a whole car—just parts of it. He’d double-talk some sucker into replacing a part that wasn’t defective: “The 'portoflan' opening on the coil is clogged,” he’d say. In went a new coil; the old one was stuck in a box and sold the next day as factory rebuilt.
In truth, these days Honest Eddies are few and far between. Both independent and new-car dealer repair shops have massive investments in facilities, tools, and diagnostic equipment, and they need repeat business. What they don’t need is negative ratings from customers.
But like a tax audit or a cracked tooth, an unexpected, budget-busting car repair can ramp up your blood pressure. You’re stressed, and your mechanic (“technician,” or “tech,” as they’re called these days) has the delicate task of confronting you with bad news. It’s a recipe for conflict.
The antidote? Good communication. Here are some suggestions for finding common ground.