Oh, how many times have I heard this one? Someone is panicking because they were told their car was “Unsafe to Drive!” Don’t get me wrong - if your trusted mechanic tells you this, listen up. But if it is a car seller or someone changing your oil, you can probably ignore them.

Recently, a caller told me they were freaking out because an oil change guy had said the car was unsafe. Had he driven the car? No. What did he say was wrong with it? He didn’t specify. Why would you believe someone like that? In Michigan (and many states), oil change places don’t even have mechanics on the premises.

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But this topic also often comes up when a brake estimate comes in too high. Threaten to take the car for a second opinion, they will often tell you that you cannot leave since your car is “Unsafe to Drive!” Yeah, that’s a scam.

There’s also the related topic of the mechanic who tells you that your car is not worth fixing, but he/she will buy it from you to save you the trouble. Trust me - it’s related and it’s a scam too.

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Steve Lehto has been practicing law for 25 years, almost exclusively in consumer protection and Michigan lemon law. He wrote The Lemon Law Bible and Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow.

This website may supply general information about the law but it is for informational purposes only. This does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not meant to constitute legal advice, so the good news is we’re not billing you by the hour for reading this. The bad news is that you shouldn’t act upon any of the information without consulting a qualified professional attorney who will, probably, bill you by the hour.