Is My MEchanic Ripping Me Off

Is My Mechanic Ripping Me Off? 4 Tricks Used By Dodgy Mechanics

Mechanics have gotten a rather bad rap over the years. There is no lack of stories; some mechanics intentionally seek to rip off customers by up selling and repairing components that don’t actually need fixing. Others simply don’t know what they’re doing, misdiagnosing problems and causing you big, costly, drawn out drama.

Unfortunately, many drivers have labelled the entire industry as “untrustworthy” and I’m constantly asked by people “is my mechanic ripping me off?”. In answer to that question, below are the top tips on how to spot the dodgy mechanics out there, and at the end… a list of how to avoid them!

If a mechanic wants to rip you off, they usually go for one of the following four options…

  1. CHARGE FOR PARTS NOT REPLACED OR LABOUR NOT PERFORMED

It’s not uncommon for us to attend to a basic service for a new customer where a major service was said to have been performed by their previous mechanic and yet the customer complains of a number of problems that simply shouldn’t be there if the car was serviced well. Usually it’s because the parts that were charged were not actually replaced. Dodgy, right?!

  1. BRING FORWARD SCHEDULED PARTS REPLACEMENTS

Loads of parts in your car will eventually need to be replaced. The trigger is either the number of kilometres your car has driven or time. A mechanic who wants to bump up your bill will often bring forward these major parts replacements unnecessarily.

For example, if a part should be replaced at 100,000km, some mechanics will start recommending replacements at 70,000km. This is also commonplace at roadside assistance operations where staff are incentivised to sell parts, like batteries. These guys will often replace any batteries that are over two years old (even though the normal life cycle is three to four years) regardless of whether the problem was actually the battery or it just needed  recharge.

Ultimately, these mechanics are not thinking about you as a customer for the long term, they’re just trying to make the most out of every service.

  1. CREATE PHANTOM REPAIRS

If you’re wondering – “is my mechanic ripping me off?” – here’s where things get really dodgy. There are some mechanics who will create repairs out of thin air in order to upsell you. Worse still, because there wasn’t a problem in the first place, they don’t actually do any work for the extra charge.

For example, the mechanic will spray WD40 on your suspension struts. They’ll then bring you in to show you that you have an oil leak and the suspension struts need replacing. You authorise the work, they then go ahead and clean up the WD40 and paint the suspension struts black. When you return they show you your new shiny suspension struts with no oil leak. That will be R12 000, thank you!

  1. LURE YOU IN THE DOOR WITH A CHEAP SERVICE

With thousands of mechanics, workshops and dealerships, the automotive repair industry is super competitive. One of the most common tricks to get customers in the door is to advertise a cheap service. They lure in first-time customers with a bargain headline rate for a service, as low as R 799.00. While this may sound appealing, the problem is that the mechanic just isn’t making any money. With the cost of parts, plus their business overheads, they’re not paying themselves. To counter this they’ll upsell you a bunch of things you don’t need. The strategy is to get you in the door and then bump up the bill.

If you see a cheap service, be prepared to drive out with a much larger bill. A good benchmark is a minimum of R 1800.00 for a basic service for a standard, non-European car.

What can you do about it?

The thought of questioning your mechanic can be a little scary— the prospect of speaking to a mechanic in greasy overalls using complex car language is daunting enough, let alone questioning what they’re telling you. Sometimes it’s easier to stick your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away.

But if you follow a few simple rules you can quickly gure out whether or not you’re getting ripped off…

  1. Do your homework
  2. Stick to your maintenance schedule
  3. Avoid cheap services, R 800.00 is cheap, R 1900.00 is average
  4. Get everything in writing
  5. Keep Records, your logbook, a maintenance journal and keep track in your calendar of what’s due and when
  6. Know your car
  7. Check your brake lights
  8. Ask questions and ask for your old parts back
  9. Get a second opinion

Although it pains us to say it, some mechanics are simply not very good, or just plain dodgy. The good thing is that once you know the tricks and mistakes to look out for, it is easier to avoid getting ripped off.

To find a trustworthy, honest and experienced mechanics that come to you book with Car Care Click here

5 Warning Lights You Should Never Ignore!

Oil Warning Light Flat tyre Warning Light Temperature Warning Light Brakes Warning Light Battery Warning Light

If any of the above warning lights come on while you are driving, DO NOT IGNORE THEM! Immediate action may be necessary to prevent damage to your vehicle, a breakdown or an accident.

OIL PRESSURE WARNING LIGHT

Oil Warning LightThe oil pressure warning light comes on if your engine has lost oil pressure or oil pressure is too low for safe engine operation. You should pull over to the side of the road, shut the engine off and check the oil level on the engine dipstick.

Possible Causes: Low oil level (due to oil consumption or leaks), oil viscosity too thin, worn oil pump, excessive engine bearing clearances or defective oil pressure sending unit.

If you engine is also making ticking, clattering or rapping noises, it is not getting sufficient oil. If you attempt to drive the engine in this condition, you will probably damage it – if it hasn’t already suffered major internal damage.

TEMPERATURE WARNING LIGHT

Temperature Warning Light The temperature warning light will come on if your engine is overheating. Do NOT continue driving if your engine is overheating as this can cause expensive engine damage (piston scuffing, valve stem galling, failed head gasket, cracks or distortion in cylinder head). Stop driving, pull over and shut your engine off. Open the hood and check the radiator and heater hoses, radiator and engine for coolant leaks. Note the level of the coolant in the coolant reservoir.

CAUTION: DO NOT open the coolant reservoir or radiator cap until the engine has cooled off for at least 30 minutes. Steam pressure inside the cooling system can blow out and burn you!

If the coolant level is low, add coolant (a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and clean distilled water) after the engine has cooled down.

Possible Causes: Low coolant level (due to coolant leak or bad head gasket), stuck thermostat, bad water pump, broken serpentine belt, defective radiator cooling fan, clogged or dirty radiator, exhaust restriction (plugged catalytic converter).

CHARGING SYSTEM WARNING LIGHT

Battery Warning LightThe “GEN” or “ALT” warning light, or an icon of a battery will illuminate if the charging voltage in your vehicle is low. You do not have to stop immediately, but you may only have 20 to 30 minutes of driving time before your battery goes dead and your engine stops running (or even less time if you are driving at night with your headlights on).

Possible Causes: Broken or slipping serpentine belt or V-belt, bad alternator, charging control fault, or loose or corroded battery cables.

Open the hood to see if the drive belt that turns the alternator is intact and is turning the alternator while the engine is idling. If the belt is not the problem, chances are the charging system has a problem that will have to be diagnosed and repaired. Better find a repair shop soon!

BRAKE WARNING LIGHT

Brake Warning LightThe Brake Warning light will come on if the parking brake has not been fully released, but it may also come on if the brake fluid level is low or there has been a loss of hydraulic pressure in one of your car’s brake circuits. Loss of fluid or brake pressure means the brakes may not be able to stop your car when you step on the pedal.

Carefully apply the brakes to see if they are working. If they are, pull over to the side of the road, open the hood and check the fluid level in the brake master cylinder. If the fluid level is low, the brake system should be inspected for leaks. If there are leaks, your brake system is unsafe to drive.

If the brake pedal is low or goes to the floor, pumping the pedal may apply enough pressure to stop your car. If that fails, apply your parking brake to slow your vehicle. Also, take your foot off the accelerator and shift to neutral, or downshift and use engine braking to slow your vehicle if you have a manual transmission. If all that fails, aim for something soft like a bush or open field.

Possible Causes: Loss of brake fluid due to leaks (master cylinder, calipers, wheel cylinders, brake lines or hoses), failure of the pressure differential switch that activates the brake light, parking brake pedal or handle not fully releasing, defective parking brake switch.

WARNING: If the brake pedal feels soft, is low, goes to the floor, or you have to pump the pedal to get your vehicle to stop, your vehicle is unsafe to drive. You should have it towed to a repair facility for repairs.

LOW TIRE WARNING LIGHT

Tire Warning LightThe Low Tire Pressure Warning Light will come on if any tire on your vehicle is 25 percent or more underinflated. Driving on a low tire can be dangerous because it increases the risk of a tire blowout. A low tire can also cause uneven braking, uneven traction, uneven and rapid tire wear, increased rolling resistance and fuel consumption.

Find a petrol station with an air pump, and check the inflation pressure in each tire with an accurate gauge (not the gauge on the pump, which is often very inaccurate!). Add air as needed to inflate your tires to the recommended pressure (see your owners manual or the tire inflation decal in teh door jam or glove box). For most passenger cars, the recommended pressure is typically 32 to 34 PSI.

Possible Causes: Loss of air pressure due to a leak (such as a nail or small puncture in a tire, or a bad valve stem), loss of air pressure due to seepage (1 to 2 PSI per month loss is normal for many tires), or inaccurate or failing TPMS sensor in tire.

Checking your tires regularly (at least once a month or before any long road trip) is recommended. Check the tires when they are COLD and BEFORE you drive your vehicle as driving creates friction and heats up the tires (causing an increase in air pressure).

Toyota South Africa recalls more than 700,000 cars over airbags

With reference to the Citizen, 25 January 2018

Toyota South Africa Motors said Thursday it had issued a notice to recall more than 700,000 vehicles over airbag safety concerns, with some affected models dating back over 15 years.

Toyota said the recall was required to replace front airbag inflators produced by parts firm Takata. These had been found to have a potential for moisture intrusion, which could cause them to burst.

“In the event of an inflator rupture, metal fragments could pass through the airbag cushion material, striking and possibly injuring the occupants in the event of an accident,” said a statement.

The company said that no injuries or fatalities had been caused so far by the fault.

A total of 730,000 vehicles were said to have been impacted, with some of the various models dating back to 2002, according to company spokesman Clynton Yon.

Toyota makes vehicles for the local and export markets at their manufacturing plant, south of the eastern port city of Durban

The faulty airbags, made by Japanese company Takata, have caused some other manufacturers to recall their cars.

Mazda issues recall for defective airbags

So far in South Africa is has been ascertained that there are an estimated 28 000 Mazda’s  affected.Since then Mazda South Africa has sent out a press release and downloaded information on their Mazda website, as well as print advertisements in regional and national newspapers regarding Mazda2, Mazda6 and RX-8 vehicles produced between 2002 and 2014.

Mazda customers have three options to check if their vehicle is affected:

  • Mazda website – www.mazda.co.za/recall and enter the unique VIN number
  • Mazda SA Customer Care Centre – 0860 983 000 / [email protected]
  • Or simply visit the nearest Mazda dealership.

The objective is to encourage all Mazda customers with possibly affected vehicles to take their vehicles to their nearest Mazda dealer for airbag inflator replacement.

The Takata airbag recall is a massive recall affecting a number of manufacturers and millions of vehicles globally. The South African recall is due to inappropriate production condition and storage of the propellant in the inflator. This might cause the propellant to ignite abnormally at the time of airbag deployment and potentially result in extremely high inner pressure of the inflator causing a rupture of the inflator case. In a case of a rupture, the airbag might not deploy as designed and may lead to injury. Thus far Mazda have not had an incident in South Africa and are conducting this recall as a precautionary measure. He fact that only about 9% of Mazda drivers have responded thus far means Mazda is concerned that majority of customers haven’t come in for replacement fittings, that there are still those driving around with possibly defective airbags.

For this reason Mazda is embarking on a recall awareness campaign and reaching out to Mazda drivers with possibly affected vehicles via the radio and digital platforms, encouraging them to establish if their vehicle is affected. Customers can then visit their nearest dealership to have their vehicle airbag(s) inflator replaced.

5 Reasons your car won’t start

You never really realize how important something is until it’s gone… and this is especially true for your car. You use it for driving your kids to school, driving to work, getting groceries, travelling across the city, and even more. So when it stops working all of a sudden, it’s a huge pain.

There are a lot of reasons why your car won’t start, but some are more common than others. Below are 5 common reasons why your car won’t start and some advice to ensure your car stays in its top shape!

  1. Dead battery

A dead battery is the most common reason why your car won’t start. The battery is what the car uses to provide electrical power to the entire car and electrical components (e.g. lights, radio, etc.). While the vehicle is running, the alternator charges the battery. If the battery is not charged sufficiently, you will not be able to start the car or use any electrical components.

Your battery can die for a variety of reasons:

  • Your headlights or dome light was left on overnight or for too long
  • You have a loose wire
  • The water inside the component evaporated, leading to poor conductivity
  • The battery’s lifespan has expired

Some common symptoms include:

  • None of the electrical components work (e.g. the lights, radio, etc.).
  • Battery light is on.

One way you can test to see if the battery is the problem by jump-starting your car. If the jump start works, you’re most likely dealing with a dying battery or an alternator that is just having trouble recharging the battery. Consider replacing the battery or alternator, cleaning the connections, or having a technician do the service for you.

  1. Defective ignition switch

If you know your battery is working properly, but your car doesn’t turn over on the first few tries, you might have a problem with the ignition switch. You can try to narrow down the cause of your issue by turning on your headlights. This is because your car’s battery controls your headlights and dashboard, and if it’s the case that they turn on your engine isn’t able to start, then a bad ignition switch is the likely culprit.

  1. Faulty starter

A broken starterr is another common reason your car won’t start. A starter is an electrical motor that is connected to the battery. Its role is to set the engine (i.e. pistons, crankshaft, etc.) in motion when you turn the ignition switch on. Once the engine starts and is in motion, the starter’s job is complete. If the starter goes bad, the engine will not crank properly or may not crank at all when you turn the ignition key on. If you hear a clicking noise when you try to start your vehicle, a broken or weakened starter could be the reason why your car isn’t starting. This is very similar to the bad ignition switch example listed before.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Car is not starting when turning the ignition key.
  • Hear a loud clicking sound when turning the ignition key, but the engine does not start.
  • Very noisy when trying to turn on your car.
  1. Clogged fuel filter

If your fuel filter is clogged, the gasoline won’t be able to reach the engine. This makes it difficult for your car to burn the fuel it needs to get going. Fuel filters should be changed every 15,000 to 20,000 kilometres, so consider swapping fuel filters next time you get your car serviced.

  1. Empty gas tank

You might feel a bit silly if this is the reason why your car isn’t starting, but it happens more often than you may think! When driving around all the time, it’s sometimes easy to forget that your gas tank needs to be refilled. The solution here is simple… get more petrol

Hopefully you never experience the scenario where your car doesn’t start, but if your car isn’t starting and you need some assistance, one of our expert mobile mechanics will come to you to properly diagnose and assess the issue. Furthermore, a full car inspection will be included as part of this service. If our mechanic can’t fix it on the spot, we will provide a cost and parts breakdown to you to ensure you understand what the problem is, how it will be fixed, and how much it will cost. If you decide to move forward with the follow up repairs with us, the initial inspection becomes free and we will only charge you for the follow up repairs.

Brake Problems: How To Find Out What’s Wrong

Brake problems are some of the most common issues on cars. Reduced stopping power is usually the biggest issue. But braking issues don’t stop there, there is lots of signs that can indicate there is something wrong with the brakes. Brake problems are usually accompanied by squealing and grinding noises and vibrations. Sometimes the brake pedal will feel very hard to press down, and other times there may be no brake pressure at all.

Finding out what is wrong with the brakes can be tricky. There are, after all, lots of parts that can go wrong. But there is some checks you can do by listening and hearing to diagnose any issues:

1. Check Brake Performance

Listen for any noises when you’re braking. Any squealing or grinding noises can be due to issues with the brakes. It may just be that the brake pads have worn down too much, or that the discs have not worn evenly.

If you feel a judder under braking it is likely that your brakes have worn unevenly. The discs may for example have warped due to excessive heat build-up. This can have a knock on effect on other brake parts and is best resolved quickly.

2. Check Noise When Driving

If you’re driving and not braking and you still hear a scraping noise continuously then there is a chance there is also something wrong with your brakes. It could be that the brake pads have not returned to their normal position after braking. Often it means that a brake caliper has seized and that it continues to push the pads against your discs.

3. Check Brake Hydraulics

Checking the brake pedal can help to find out if there are any issues with the hydraulic system which power the brakes. It’s important that the brakes engage long before you press the brake pedal to the floor. If the brakes only start to kick in late on and they feel spongy then it’s likely you have a problem with the hydraulics. In that instance there may be air in the system.

If you brake hard and you feel that the pressure on the brake pedal slowly decreases, then it’s likely that there may be a leak in the system. This ‘sinking pedal’ issue could mean that the master cylinder or a brake hose is leaking somewhere.

4. Check Brake Discs

The brake discs are usually visible through the spokes in your wheel. When checking them look out for any grooves and ridges or uneven surfaces. The discs should be flat and smooth. If they are not, they might have suffered from scoring. Worn brake pads will be the cause of this. It’s important to get this repaired as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the discs and to stay safe.

5. Check Handbrake

Last but not least make sure to check your handbrake. It is vital in ensuring that your car can be locked in place when stationary. If you have to pull the brake handle higher than usual then it’s likely that the tension on the cable is off. Often readjustment is needed or new brake shoes.