Use vehicles or equipment with known repair requirements to test honesty of repair shops

Automobile repairs are often too costly because of the fraudulent practices of repair shops. The owner (especially in cities) is usually not acquainted with repairs and their costs and the dishonest repair shop takes advantage of that ignorance by overcharging on parts, overcharging on the hours, and selling the owner on repairs of other items not really needing repair.

The way of dealing with this is to set up a sting operation involving several common-model cars fully inspected in advance to know what is wrong with the car. A cracked distributor cap could replace a perfectly-good distributor cap, for example. When the car is taken to a repair shop (as to which there have been various comsumer complaints), the investigator will soon see if there is any basis for the complaints. A dishonest shop will probably try to load up other, unnecessary repairs. An honest shop would find the problem and nothing else. Of course, the car should really be in good condition but for the cracked distributor cap.

As a follow up, the repair shop's customers for the past 3 to 6 months might be given an opportunity to complain about their repair costs at that shop. On a recent repair, I saw a $15 charge for materials, and when I asked about this the repair-shop owner mumbled something about oil used to lubricate a brake component.

By publicizing the sting operation widely, including mail to the licensed repair shops, a good portion of the benefits of the operation might be realized before any sting takes place.