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Beware of automotive rip-offs like these:

1//A service attendant, while checking tire pressure, "discovers" a gashed tire you never even suspected. He lay be setting you up. Put on your spare and drive home or to a dealer of your choice before replacing the tire.

2// Wires loosened by someone who checks under the hood causes a warning light to come on. He may even create smoke by dropping barbecue sauce on the hot alternator. If there were no warning lights on when you drov in, let the smoke clear and check the wires yourself. If they don't show signs of burning, drive on.

3//If an attendant spins the fan blade and tells you this means the water pump is failing, don't believe him. The fan of a warm engine should turn freely.

4// A sudden leak in a radiator hose, right there in the service station? Unlikely, unless caused by an unscrupulous attendant with a sharp screwdriver. Carry a spare hose. Or tape the leak with the rubber or electrical tape. That should get you to another service station and keep a crook from making a profit.

5// Make sure no one "forgets" to replace your gas cap when you stop to refuel.

6// Don't be sucked into replacing air filters or batteries unnecessarily. Get out of your car and watch the repairman closely to make sure he doesn't disconnect the battery cables.

7// If a shop tries to sell you a new tire or a battery, ask for the owner's name and the shop's address. If the attendant seems hesitant, go to another shop.

8//If you didn't actually watch the service station attendant check your oil, and he indicates it is low, ask him to recheck. Watch that he pushes the dip stick all the way in.

9//Watch closely any time a stranger gets under the hood of your car. It is easy to cut a fan belt when the car owner is inattentive. Carry spare fan belts when driving from home, so that the most you will have to pay a crooked service station will be for installation.

* Get your car checked before you go on a long trip so you can avoid having major repairs performed far from home. Never give a stranger a big job; have someone you trust check it out. The key is to remain in control of the situation. If you do indeed have a problem, you want to be free to choose where and by whom it is corrected, and not be stampeded by an unscrupulous attendant.