Car repairs: don’t get ripped off! (Part 5)

One of the most common ways car repair facilities can rip off unsuspecting customers, is to oversell items – services you don’t need, or don’t need just yet.

This is the fifth in a series of articles, developed exclusively for readers of and by X-Mechanic Inc. that explains how to avoid this trap.

Article#5 – Spark Plug Cleaning
The rip-off:
Selling this to you instead of replacing the spark plugs

What it is:
Since most manufacturers are using platinum spark plugs that are designed to last between 120,000 to 150,000 kms, the repair stations are looking for new ways to sell services to you. The cleaning service is usually only sold on platinum spark plugs, because the regular spark plugs only last 40,000 to 60,000 kms. Not all repair centers even sell the service, which should be an indication of whether it is necessary or not.

What the service consists of:
The service consists of removing all of the spark plugs from your engine and placing them in a sandblaster to clean carbon build up and residue from the spark plugs. Then the technician will check and re-adjust the spark plug gap on all of the spark plugs and re-install them in your engine.

When you should have it done:
It is our recommendation and experience that you should never be asked to perform this service. If the spark plugs are malfunctioning due to carbon and residue then there is either an engine problem, the mileage is right to have the spark plugs changed or they are just worn out. Even if the mileage is premature and they are malfunctioning, it is a total waste of money to have them just cleaned. They will already have removed the spark plugs – and they should be replaced.

There is only one rare exception to this rule:
1. In the highly unlikely event that the manufacturer recommends this service in the owner’s manual. (Not the dealer, whose “advisors” are on commission)

The views expressed in this article belong to X-Mechanic Inc and are not necessarily those of


About X-Mechanic Inc.: X-Mechanic Inc. is a national service that will re-negotiate your car repair estimate, before you have the repairs done, and save you money. If they save you money, you pay them 40% of the savings – to a maximum of $200. If they can’t save you money, you pay nothing.