It’s downright infuriating…
You’re likely wondering what to do if a mechanic rips you off. Or maybe your trying to figure out what to do if a mechanic breaks your car.
Fortunately there are options available to you.
I know, because I’ve been through them all. Reaching a decade of being a mechanic myself, I learned some of the tricks shady mechanics will play on unsuspecting victims. And I’m here to expose these crooks.
But, before launching your complaint it’s best to verify that your mechanic did in fact overcharge you or damage your vehicle. Check if any of these apply to you:
- your mechanic overcharged you more than 10% from the original quote
- new parts were never installed, and you found out at a later time
- the mechanic damaged other essential parts of your vehicle and mentioned nothing about it to you
- the shop scammed you with bogus repairs
If any of these apply to you, then let’s continue.
Here in this post you’ll find all the resources in Canada and in the United States for actions to take when a mechanic has decided to scam you.
Find out If You Qualify For Repair Warranty
Some provinces/states automatically protect consumers from mechanical repairs with a mandatory repair warranty. Check with your local consumer protection agency / automotive regulations department to see if you qualify for warranty repairs.
Under the Consumer Protection Act, parts and labor generally have a warranty for a minimum of 90 days or 5,000 km (whichever comes first). Repair shops can also offer coverage beyond that minimum warranty.
No Warranty Repair? No Problem.
If a repair warranty doesn’t apply to you, don’t fret. You’ve still got a few options available. We can still get your money back.
What to Do If a Mechanic Rips You Off
The first step is to make a complaint directly to the business by letter, email or phone call. At this point you may be very upset towards the mechanic, but it’s best to keep a cool head and deliver the facts of the problem. Tell the shop you feel you’ve been overcharged, and request this problem be resolved immediately.
It’s always best to contact the business garage in writing so you have a record of the communication. I recommend using email.
If you contact the business shop by phone, make sure to note the date and details of the conversation. Take a picture and record your call logs you’ve made to the shop.
If you’ve done STEP 1 and the mechanic still refuses to correct the problem, then move onto STEP 2.
Contact a local automotive regulations department / consumer agency in your province or state. Make a complaint about the business that refuses to fix the faulty repair for your vehicle.
If you have written records and documents ready, this becomes much easier for your local regulations department to get involved and issue you compensation.
Your key piece of evidence you’ll need is the “quote in writing“ and the “final bill in writing” to make your case. Only having the “final bill in writing” will not help your case. You need both!
You request your “quote in writing” before agreeing to do any work up front at the shop. Even if the repair would cost you less than $100.
Don’t underestimate how bad things can turn without that “quote in writing” (earlier we mentioned doing preventative work up front).
Below are a list of all Canadian and US departments that handle consumer protection for automotive repairs. Locate your local regulators to file a complaint:
- Alberta – AMVIC
- British Columbia – Consumer Protection BC
- Saskatchewan – Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority
- Manitoba – Consumer Protection Office
- Ontario – Ministry of Government of Consumer Services
- Quebec – Justice Quebec
1-418-643-5140 option 3
- Newfound Land – Consumer Affairs Division
- New Brunswick – Financial and Consumer Services Commission
- Nova Scotia – Government of Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island – Department of Justice and Public Safety
- Yukon – Consumer Services Department of Community Services
1‑800‑661‑0408 ext. 5111
- Northwest Territories – Municipal and Community Affairs
867-767-9161 ext. 21022
- Nunavut – Department of Community and Government Services
- Alberta – AMVIC
Use the large database from USA Gov website to locate your local auto regulators. They have listed all the departments available in your area. Just select which state you’re located in and it’ll show you which department to contact to make a complaint.
From there you can report a mechanic shop by either sending an email or reaching out via phone call to their consumer protection agency.
Visit their website: https://www.usa.gov/state-consumer
Combating Auto Repair Fraud
Contacting your automotive regulations department is a solid action to take when a mechanic rips you off. Usually they’ll launch investigations with a serious enough complaint and start handing out fines. It’s not out of the question for them to shut down shops if they find other violations occurring during that time; and they’ll get your money back for you as well.
But sometimes they may not have enough information to do much. Usually this is because you don’t have enough evidence for them to build a clad iron case. Or some provinces or states don’t have tight regulations for the automotive repair industry.
If this is your situation, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Here is one last option available to you; which is to take your offender to a small claims court. You might be able to convince the judge with what evidence you do have available.
How small claims courts work
If you need accurate legal advice, it may be a good idea to speak with a lawyer. Here are lawyers you can speak with online about your specific concerns.
However, you may still decide to go at this alone if you feel comfortable with that.
Now this is where you need to bring all the evidence with you when going to a small claims court. All quotes, invoices, call logs, pictures, videos, and witness statements; anything you have recorded. You must prove with facts that you got ripped off by the mechanic for your car repair.
Every province and state will differ for amount of money to be rewarded, but having all documents ready just increases your chances of making a successful claim and winning your money back; whatever that amount is.
This will be your only chance to get back what is owed to you, so make it count. Be prepared and be accurate with your facts. It is possible to win when you have all these things in place with you.
Now You Know What Steps to Take When a Mechanics Rips You Off.
Now you know what to do if a mechanic overcharges you or damages your vehicle.
Following these 3 Solid Steps should help you recover compensation for the mechanic’s infraction.
Don’t let shady mechanics trick you out of your hard earned money. Remaining quiet will only enable these unscrupulous mechanics to do more of what they’re doing now.
Taking action is the only way to make sure your car will be fixed right and at a fair rate the next time.
Last Update: October 10, 2023