It's common knowledge that regular maintenance on your car can save you money in the long run, but drivers should be wary of shady mechanic practices. Here's how to avoid being taken for a ride.
First, watch out for the fluid flush scam. This is when mechanics try to convince you to flush out your transmission, power steering, brakes and coolant, which can cost up to $500 or more. Unless it says so in the owner's manual, don't flush out your transmission. It can do more harm than good, and mechanics shouldn't be suggesting it before 50,000 miles.
Another red flag is the use of dirty samples. With power steering fluid, for example, you can't determine if it needs to be changed just by its appearance. So, if a mechanic shows you "dirty power steering fluid" it's likely a scam. There's no need to replace the fluids unless you hear strange noises or it's hard to turn the wheel.
Unnecessary oil changes are also a way you can get duped into spending extra cash. The old rule of thumb says you should change your oil every 3,000 miles, but now auto companies like GMC and Ford say that newer cars can go 5,000 (and even up to 10,000 miles) before needing an oil change.
Finally, don't wait until Friday to take your car to the shop. Mechanics who are eager for the weekend may rush the job, while going on a Monday can help ensure that the work will be done properly. Keep these tips in mind the next time your car needs maintenance and you'll drive off with the very best deals.