Personal Finance

Did My Dad Get Scammed?

While visiting the parental units for Thanksgiving, my dad told an intersting story about what happened to their van when he went to get an oil change.

There was a young man (my dad said he looked about 16) who was driving the vehicles into the bay for the oil change.  My dad thought he was acting kind of nervous when he took the keys.  After the oil change, my dad went to start the van and the key wouldn’t turn in the ignition.  After trying for a minute or two, he got out of the van and the young guy ran over and asked what the problem was.  After my dad said the key wasn’t turning in the ignition, the guy said “I’ve seen that before!”, ran off and got a can of WD-40, sprayed some in the ignition and it started.

My dad said he was doing everything but holding his hand out, clearly expecting some sort of reward for getting the car started.  My dad was suspicious about the whole situation (he hadn’t been having any problems with the ignition before this, found the guy’s behaviour quite odd, and was skeptical that the guy would have known EXACTLY what the problem was, and been able to fix it immediately).  Since then ignition has locked up again repeatedly, and each time it requires WD-40 to get it to turn (and start).

My dad’s theory is that the young guy sprayed something in the ignition to make it seize up (and WD-40 fixes the problem temporarily).  He figured the guy hits a few people each day, and tries to make a bit of money getting a “reward” when he gets their vehicle going again.

I’ve done a Google search and haven’t come across a scam like this.  For anyone who knows much about cars, do you think the guy did something to my dad’s van, or do you think he’s being needlessly suspicious (and maybe should have given the guy $20 for fixing the problem on the spot and saving him from having to call a tow truck)?

8 replies on “Did My Dad Get Scammed?”

I’d be more likely to guess that they guy was just being helpful. I’ve had a similar problem with a seizing ignition before and WD40 is a temporary cure. I alos can’t really think of what you could spray in an ignition to reliable replicate these symptoms on a regular basis, although perhaps my sabotage techniques need to be updated. 🙂

My guess would be that it was just good timing (or bad timing, depending on how you look at it) that the problem occured while at the shop. It might be a little too convenient, but I think that’s the most likely explanation (Occam’s Razor, anyone?). I guess one way to find out for sure is to pull out the ignition to see if there are any signs of tampering.

Mike: Yeah, I kinda thought so too…

MGL: I’m not sure what the simplest explaination would be in this case. Sabotage or coincidental failuure. My dad seemed to think a shot of lacquer might have caused what he’s been seeing…

Guinness416: That’s a pretty good point! Darn teenagers!

I worked in garages for years. A shot of WD40 is something you would do for a customer for nothing, without even saying anything about it.

Maybe the guy was angling for a tip, who knows?

I do know that WD40 will gum up your lock. Any oily substance will pick up dirt and dust. Another shot of WD40 will help temporarily then it will just get gummed up again.

You should never use anything to lubricate locks except powdered graphite. You can get a little tube of powdered graphite at a hardware store for 99 cents. This is enough to lubricate every lock you own for the rest of your life.

For the lock that is gummed up clean it with contact cleaner spray or brake and parts cleaner spray. Then lubricate with graphite and your problem will be over.

Rusty: Great info, thanks! Would you have to remove the ignition before cleaning it with contact cleaner spray, or is that something you can spray into it while its still in the car?

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