Expensive car check: this is how car repair shops in germany are making a killing

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When the engine control lamp lights up in the car, many drivers panic. Because it threatens a trip to the workshop, a repair and not infrequently an expensive bill. A ZDF program has now tested branded car repair shops. With shocking results.

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Cheeky rip-off: car spare parts suddenly cost more

Harald Reeb drives his VW on a country road. Suddenly the engine control lamp lights up. The motorist drives to the nearest garage and lets look for the error. There, the experts detect a defective intake tract. The independent repair shop tells Reeb he can buy the part from VW for about 280 to 300 euros.

Arrived at the next VW contract workshop, a nasty surprise lurks. The VW dealership wants to sell Reeb the complete intake manifold. Cost point? 500 Euro. The employee brazenly claims that the intake manifold cannot be bought separately.

Car driver stays on – does not let himself be put off

Reeb calls the first (independent) garage. The master sticks with it: The spare part is available individually. In an interview with the ZDF program “Frontal 21” Reeb explains: “So I went back to the stockist and then I asked for the part and insisted that I only get what I want. I don’t need more, I just want this part.“ The dealership relents and sells the spare part to the driver.

Automobile club reports frequent complaints

Reeb is not an isolated case. Johannes Hubner from the Automobile Club of Germany explains that he often has to listen to complaints about car repair shops. Particularly in brand workshops, customers often get the short end of the stick.

The ZDF wants to know it more exactly. They prepare a car in such a way that the fuse is blown.

Shocking result in ZDF test

ZDF visits three authorized workshops. The result is sobering:

  • In a Mercedes-Authorized workshop is to find the fault. Within a few minutes, the mechanic can find and solve the fault. It does not compute for its employment a cent.
  • In one BMW-Workshop sees it differently. The mechanics charge 110 euros for the repair. According to the bill, the installation and removal of the glove box alone cost 44 euros. This is a clear rip-off! The glove compartment contains the fuse box. Within ten seconds this can be opened with two handles. Installation or removal is not necessary at all.
  • Volkswagen Exaggerates completely and charges 213 euros. The service advisor explains that he replaced the fuel pressure sensor, the speed sensor and the engine control unit – and only then looked for the fuse. The car dealer explains that the error was “outside the technical logic”.

About 20 percent of workshop invoices are faulty

Andreas Becker from “inspekto.de” regularly checks invoices. He says: “We can say with certainty that around 20 percent of all workshop invoices are incorrect.” This only includes the overpriced invoice items. Unjustified repairs are not listed in it.

Johannes Hubner of the German Automobile Club (AvD) is not surprised by the procedure. “The workshop is under enormous cost pressure because vehicle sales no longer bring in much either.”In addition, the workshop intervals for oil changes or inspections are too long. So they try to exploit the customers.

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