Expose Disreputable Mechanics By Asking For The Old Parts Back

Expose Disreputable Mechanics By Asking For The Old Parts Back

Automotive repairs are expensive enough — the last thing you want to do is pay for repairs that are never actually done or don’t even need to be done. Here’s an easy way to find out whether that job really needs to be done: ask the mechanic to give you the old parts back.

Photo by starmanseries.

If you don’t work on your car yourself — and I’d encourage you to at least learn to handle the basics on your own — you’re probably stuck trusting a dealership or an in-and-out oil-change joint to do a lot of your maintenance and repairs. If you’re getting the sneaking suspicion that those “free 18-point inspections” are really a way to propose work that doesn’t need to be done, ask for your old parts back in the boxes the new parts came in.

This isn’t foolproof by any means — some parts have to be specifically disposed of or recycled, so you may encounter some resistance. And if you have a good relationship with your mechanic, there’s no reason to go this route. For those other cases, the parts are your property, so broken or not, you’re entitled to them. If you get the old parts you, you can take them to another mechanic and ask if they really needed to be replaced. Plus, you can tell pretty quickly how trustworthy a shop is when a mechanic backtracks on the laundry list of repairs they “can’t let you drive away” without doing as soon as you pop the question.

I’ve successfully done this personally several times when it was especially difficult to find a qualified mechanic to handle more advanced repairs on older vehicles. Once you find a mechanic willing to give you back old parts, show you what work will be done and treats you well, stick with them. For more auto repair suggestions, hit the AutoMD link below.

Ten Really Expensive Auto Repair Mistakes to Avoid [AutoMD]


  • I have a great mechanic. Whenever I go to pick up my car, he has all the parts he had to remove laid out on the table to be gone through one at a time. I get an explaination about what the part is, where it fits on the car, and what was wrong with it.

    Then, we do a walk around of the car, and he points out other bits and pieces that may need doing in the next few services (I drive a 14 year old car..). I know that there is a noisy bearing on the fan belt assembly that may need replacing in the next 12 months, the break pads should last another 20-30k km’s, and thats pretty much it for the foreseeable future.

    Finally, if he replaces worn fan belts, the air filter, or something else that can be used in a pinch, he bags them up for me to throw in the back of the car as a spare. I do a fair bit of off-road driving, so a spare belt could come in real handy for a couple of hundred km’s one day.

    It can sometimes take 30 minutes to just pick up the car after a service!

  • the best defence against being ripped off is knowledge. if i told you your panhard rod bushes needed replacing would you know how many panhard rods are on your car?(0 or 1 or 2) how often should they need replacing? (every service or every 200 000 km) is it an important to the safe operation of your car or just nice to do?

  • The mechanic I use now is a slack git. However, I do know that when parts are replaced there is a genuine reason to do so. In fact, he’ll get as much life out of existing parts as possible before mandating a replacement. The biggest problem is managing to book a time for the work and then getting the work done in a reasonable time.

    That reminds me, I need to get under the car and bleed the brakes this weekend. Or maybe next weekend.

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