Allstate Transmission And Auto Repair of Phoenix FAQ Section
It Could Save You From a Transmission Repair You Do Not Need At All!
What are transmission shop scams?
The scams that dishonest transmission shops use are all related in two ways;
The first is that they're all lies based on some small amount of true,
but twisted, facts.
And secondly, they're all meant to make you do what the shop wants
regardless of what you need.
Most common transmission shop scams and ripoffs
It's well known that if you can't beat your competition with honesty, fair pricing and quality work, then discredit them with negativity.
It's also well known that talking down about your competition will turn customers away faster than anything. So I know that some of the negative phrases and aggressiveness I use in this article will turn some people off and make me seem hostile and desperate. Well I'm not desperate, but I know that I am a little hostile towards dishonest transmission shops, and after reading this I'm sure you will be too.
The transmission industry contributes a valuable service to the automotive repair industry. Transmissions are complicated assemblies and repairs should be performed by technicians who specialize in transmission repair and rebuilding transmissions. Dishonest transmission shops give the rest of the industry a bad name. The mistrust causes people to rely on their mechanic to try and tackle a transmission rebuild, or turn to a dealership thinking that they can be trusted. Dealership technicians don't specialize in transmission repair; they're trained in recognizing problems and external repairs, but when it comes to an internal repair they'll usually sell you a rebuilt transmission instead.
I've gone into a little more detail on this subject in another section,
you can go to our transmission repair page to learn more.
I wish I could say that I've written this section solely to keep you from becoming a victim a dishonest transmission shop's scams and ripoffs, but it's partially for my shop's benefit as well. When a customer calls us for information about their transmission problem, the confusion caused by other shops that have lied to them with "bait and switch" pricing and/or the time it takes to complete the repair makes customers question our recommendation for their needed repairs. And since we're honest about the prices and time it takes for a repair, we can lose work to dishonest shops that lie to get new customers. Referrals from our customers for our honesty, more than make up for a lost job to a dishonest shop. But phone calls can be frustrating when our honesty about a repair makes customers question our expertise. All I can say is that I hope this information helps clear the air.
The Most Common Transmission Repair
Scams and Ripoffs
Transmission Repair Scams and Ripoffs Dishonest Transmission Shops Use Based on Information Supplied By Our Customers and Other Sources;
= Very Common
= Not Used As Often
= I Haven't Heard Much About These Lately
Bait And Switch.
The rebuilt transmission "bait and switch" scam is the most common tactic used by transmission shops. Shops selling rebuilt transmissions using this sales tactic aren't necessarily known as dishonest shops, and although it is totally dishonest, customers may not even realize it's happened to them, leaving the shop's reputation intact.
How it works;
When a customer calls for a quote, they're giving a very low price for rebuilding their transmission; THE BAiT. If the customer approves the rebuild, the transmission is removed and disassembled. This is when the SWITCH occurs; anything needed to rebuild the transmission that isn't included in a rebuild is sold at a very high price. The total cost to the customer for the transmission rebuild is more than doubled and sometimes even tripled.
The only way to keep this from happening to you is to make sure the original quote includes the worst case scenario cost that you may have to pay.
Get Your Car Apart For An Accurate Quote
Some large transmission repair franchises and even some dealerships are known to be the shops using this tactic the most. Shops with high transmission rebuild prices use it to keep from giving customers that high price up front.
Like the scam above, it's possible that customer's may not even know they've been a victim of these type of ripoffs. Their customers may have fallen for it thinking that this is how the transmission industry works and it's the only way to get a quote. They may even think the high price is the only way to get a quality rebuilt transmission; NOT TRUE!
How it works;
When a customer asks for a quote for a rebuilt transmission they're told that there's no way to give a quote without more information. But they will give them a quote to find out why, usually somewhere between $400 to $600. They may or may not tell their customers that the transmission will be removed and disassembled to give them their quote.
Once they have your car torn apart, they can charge you whatever they want.
If their customers then find a more reasonable shop and decline the further repair, they still have to pay the fee for the disassembly. Now the customer has two problems;
First, even though they've found another shop with a more reasonable price, when combined with the fees they owe already, the total cost for the rebuilt transmission between the two shops is so high that they have no choice but to let the high priced shop finish the rebuild.
Secondly, if the customer does decided to have their car towed to another shop, it can be difficult to get the first shop to give you all your parts back to put the transmission and the car back together. We've had cars towed in from other shops with a disassembled transmission that doesn't even belong to the car. Sometimes they were valid mistakes, but other times it was obvious the shop had purposely tried to cause as many problems as possible.
The most common problem we have with disassembled automatic transmissions from another shop is that we usually get a box of junk. The transmission may have originally needed a few parts replaced, most likely the reason the transmission needed to be rebuilt in the first place. But when the shop realizes they have lost the job, they box up the transmission and substitute any of the customer's good transmission parts for any junk parts they have laying around they're shop, making the transmission un rebuild-able. So not only does the customer have to pay the other shop for their labor, the cost to rebuild the transmission at our shop, but now the cost of a rebuild-able transmission core, and that's the good scenario!
Some shops get so angry losing a job that they leave all the good parts in the box, making it seem like the transmission is rebuild-able, but secretly sabotage a part or two out of spite. We've found small holes drilled in areas that could not be seen but would cause the transmission to bleed off pressure or apply pressurized fluid to the wrong places. Another time a shop had ground off important areas inside an expensive European transmission case making it unusable.
Here in Phoenix, certain shops have a reputation for this, and unfortunately, we've had to quit accepting jobs that had been disassembled by them. Not only do they sabotage transmissions, but they are also cutting wires that are hidden in wire looms that control the transmission. Electrical shops have spent a lot of expensive man hours and sometimes even days tracking down problems with sabotaged vehicles.
Install low quality parts
Transmission Parts normally come from just a couple of local distributors, but shady shops can order their parts from less expensive distributors that carry cheep imported parts.
Tell you what you want to hear in order to get the job
Similar to Bait and Switch, telling you what you want to hear can include anything that you're concerned about when looking for a shop to rebuild your transmission. Most people are focused on these 3 main points when shopping for transmission repair. Shops know this and will;
- Lie to you about the cost of their transmission repair and rebuilt transmissions.
- Lie to you about the time it will take until your vehicle is done and ready for pick up.
- Lie to you about a warranty when there really isn't one, they'll find of way out of it.
Sell customers a new automatic transmission and install a rebuilt transmission instead.
Most people assume that dealerships stock new transmissions, but new transmissions are manufactured and installed in new cars. Manufacturers scrutinize production quantities and only produce what is needed. Overproduction of new transmissions is very rare, and by the time a car is out of the manufacturer's warranty and needs to have the transmission replaced or rebuilt, they've been long gone. If a shop tells you their going to sell you a new transmission they're most likely lying; ask to get a copy of the dealer invoice and warranty, they can black out their cost from the dealer if they need to, but you were the one that actually paid for it.
Selling customers a rebuilt transmission and install a used one instead
A transmission shop may try and substitute a used transmission for a couple of different reasons;
- They may have quoted the transmission rebuild too low, giving customers a flat quote with no extra charge for any needed hard parts that may be damaged, hoping that the transmission just needed a minor repair.
- They may have misquoted a job that is too expensive for the shop to rebuild. Some less common transmissions can be very expensive to rebuild and you suffer from their inexperience.
- They may have thought they could rebuild a certain type of transmission, and then realized that they don't have the expertise to rebuild it correctly, again you suffer from their miss judgment.
- They may not even employ a transmission rebuilder at all; the shop may always install used transmissions as a normal practice to commit their fraud.
Sell you work that they never actually did
It is much easier to verify that a general automotive repair was actually done than it is to tell if a transmission shop did what they said they did. If an auto shop installs a new radiator, water pump or an alternator, all you have to do is pop the hood and it should be obvious. There is no way to verify internal transmission repair. Just because the transmission works well after a repair doesn't mean they did what they said, instead of rebuilding the transmission they could have just made a minor repair.
Not telling you what they include in their rebuilt automatic transmissions
A transmission rebuild should include certain parts that are standard in a rebuild. A dishonest transmission shop can sell you those parts that should have been included at an extra cost. For example, every rebuilt transmission should include a torque convertor, but without experience, there's no way you could know that. The shop can use your lack of knowledge to sell you a part for hundreds of dollars that should have been included in the first place. You need to get quotes from a couple of transmission shops with details on everything included and NOT included in their rebuilds. This can keep this scam from happening to you.
Sell you a rebuilt transmission that you never needed
A few ways they can do this is to;
- Use metal shavings found in during an automatic transmission service to scare you into a transmission rebuild or repair. Although the amount of debris may be normal, they will tell you that something is broken inside causing an excessive amount of debris. Shops that offer a transmission service for a very low price usually have an ulterior motive. Take advantage of the low price service and ignore anything else they try and sell you.
- They can use fault codes found during a scan of your car's computer to sell you an automatic transmission overhaul. Specific transmission fault codes also known as Data Trouble Codes (DTCs) are open to interpretation. For example, a code for a torque converter problem can mean the torque converter has failed sending debris throughout your automatic transmission and causing your transmission to need to be rebuilt. On the other hand the same code can mean that the torque converter isn't working correctly because a bad torque converter clutch (TCC) solenoid has quit telling the converter what to do.
- Use your own fears that you may have expressed. For example if you walk in and tell them you think you need a transmission overhaul, that's probably what they'll try and sell you
- Try to scare you by telling you that your transmission probably won't make it to the next shop for another estimate or second opinion
Either the shop doesn't know how to diagnose problems with the information they've gathered such as normal amounts of debris or transmission trouble codes, OR they are scamming you into unneeded repairs.
Are There Things Transmission Shops Do Not Want Customers To Know?
Absolutely! There are quite a few secrets, for example;
- This list of transmission scams and ripoffs - obvious but true, it's the thing they fear the most - an informed customer.
- The worst case price for your rebuilt transmission, at least not until your car is apart, then they'll be glad to let you know!
- The total price based on you and your car, they know they'll be charging you, even before diagnosing your transmission.
- Their competitor's price, if they think you don't know any better, they'll charge you whatever they want, and usually do.
- Their and their competitor's reputation; one of the biggest things that can effect a dishonest transmission shop's future.
- Their history; abandoning their shop and their customer's warranties, only to pop up somewhere else under a new name.
- Their employees experience; highly trained and qualified transmission technicians are expensive, some try to get by with. . .
The Bottom Line
Whether you read the above list of scams and rip offs dishonest transmission shops can use to commit their fraud, or you skimmed over the list to get to the Bottom Line, at least take a moment to read the bullet points below. They can help you save $1,000s from becoming a victim of transmission repair sales schemes.
Transmission shops have years of experience, and some franchises have used vast resources to help them find ways of separating you from your money.
- Look for red flags; let your feelings help guide you, they can be the most important way to avoid scams and ripoffs.
- Check the shop's reviews; local online directories like Google, Yellowpages, etc. have reviews that can be helpful.
- Check the shop's reputation; look at the standings and customer reviews on BBB for shops that you're considering.
- Ask for a tour of the shop; watch their reaction closely, you can learn a lot by it and also the condition of the shop.
- Make sure they can't lie to you; ask them to save and show you the broken parts or anything else they replaced.
- Get a "worst case scenario" price; a written guaranteed quote stating that, no matter what, you will not pay more.
- Get a second opinion; a price quote in writing from another transmission shop verifying the recommended repairs.
- Get referrals or warnings; ask your regular mechanic or friends that have had their transmission rebuilt before.
- Learn about your symptoms; before talking to a shop get as much information as you can about your problems.
- Ask Questions; if they skate around your questions like a politician than they're either dishonest or incompetent.
- Beware of perks; they can nice, but also dangerous, don't let them be the reason for choosing a transmission shop.
- Financing by the shop; a transmission shop's interest rate can be as much as 200% after a short introductory period.
- Special warranties; there's always ways of wiggling out of them, blaming problems on anything but the transmission.
Even if you know nothing about transmission repair, you can still avoid being a victim of a ripoff by following the bullet points above.