KFOX14 Investigates: Tipoffs you’re about to get ripped off by body shop or mechanic

(File: mechanic repairman inspecting car)

KFOX14 Investigates is here to help you when you've been wronged or cheated.

But we also want to protect you before that happens.

One of the most common problems viewers call KFOX14 Investigates with is mechanics and body shops.

Experts tell KFOX14 Investigates about the red flags to watch out for, to keep you from getting ripped off.

“More nowadays than in the 41 years we have been in business, there's so much more of that, so many more scams. The consumer needs to be aware,” said body shop owner Sergio Lewis, owner of Lewis Body Shop.

Lewis said he's seen an increase in drivers getting ripped off by local body shops.

He said there are a few ways to avoid getting cheated.

Lewis said to watch out for telemarketers.

"These are people who are buying the crash reports, the accident reports following up with a phone call to the consumer, they will promise you the moon, but you better be ware,” he said.

Also, don’t sign over an insurance check or pay until work is done.

Lewis said a reputable shop shouldn’t need all the money upfront.

“That is a huge signal, big red flag, that something is not right,” said Lewis.

Make sure to choose the shop you want and get a few estimates

“Check with the Better Business Bureau, Google, check reviews as well,” said Lewis.

Lewis said it’s not always a good idea to take recommendations from a tow truck driver or the first person you speak to after a wreck.

“If you get picked up and you've had a bad accident and you're pretty shook up, let it rest a day or two,” said Lewis.

When it comes to hiring a mechanic, Consumer Reports says, there are some tipoffs that you're about to get ripped off.

Padding the bill. Consumer Reports said this is when a mechanic may tell you it's time for scheduled maintenance and recommend extra and unnecessary procedures like engine and transmission flushes. Check your owners manual to see how often you need that work done

Price gouging. If it sounds like a lot of money for a special part. Check what other shops will charge you.

“If you have an estimate that’s really high and one that’s really low, absolutely you have a red flag,” said Lewis about getting estimates.

A “parts replacer” is when a shop or mechanic says something like, “We thought it was your fuel injector but it looks like you need a fuel pump.” Consumer Reports says, this is someone who is rebuilding your car because they can’t figure out what’s wrong. Make the mechanic justify the initial repair. And the shop should refund the first repair or discount the next one.

Lewis said doing your research on the front end can save you from a disaster.

“Once you sign a contract and your vehicle is in their shop, they have all of the leverage,” said Lewis.

Consumer Reports also suggests owners request a test drive when the car can be driven again and always ask for evidence if you're not comfortable with the diagnosis or cost.

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