Motorists fume over rising car AC repair costs

Car AC mechanics at work in Doha. Pic: Abdul Basit/ The Peninsula

The spiraling cost of repairing a car air conditioning system is becoming burdensome for motorists, especially those with lower incomes.
However, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, under which the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) falls, asked shops to display the price list of products and services they offer at their entrance to create healthy competition in local markets.
Some greedy air condition (AC) mechanics are cheating customers by quoting the prices for repairing additional parts that are not required for services, a motorist told The Peninsula.
Mechanics admit that there are some cheating cases and explained the loophole. It is difficult for motorists to know what is exactly wrong with the air conditioning. So, it is easy for some mechanics to fool customers.
“I took my 1995 model car that stopped cooling a couple weeks ago to the mechanic, a motorist, Mohamad Naim, who hails from India told The Peninsula.
“After checking the car, the mechanic told me that the AC compressor is weak and quoted QR1,200 on special discount for replacing it, said Naim. The mechanic also told me to get ready for spending additional QR800 to QR1,000 if other parts like cooling system and cylinder were found damaged,” said Naim.
“But I did not get it repaired because I am traveling by the end of this month and don’t have enough money, said Naim. “Now I have decided to drive my car from home to office without air conditioning as it is not very far from the office. I will get it repaired when I am back from summer vacation, he added.
“I was cheated by an AC mechanic last month, Ahmad Husain, a Nepali citizen running a contracting company told The Peninsula. My car AC had broken down. I saw smoke coming out of the compressor and took it to a mechanic. The bearing in the compressor was damaged but the mechanic changed the entire compressor in place of fixing it, said Husain.
“The greedy mechanic also kept the compressor with him. When I met another mechanic and shared my experience with him, I came to know that I was cheated,” he added.
“The car air conditioning system generally requires repairing or replacing a few parts like hoses, sensors in either compressor or condenser,” Mohamad Afzal, an AC mechanic working with a garage operating in the Industrial Area told The Peninsula.
“It is not easy for motorists to single out what exactly happened to the stopped air conditioning system of car after it cooling, said Afzal.
“Repairs typically involve locating and stopping leaks. It can be tricky to find a small, slow leak in a hard-to-reach area, so it sometimes requires several attempts to fix the system.”
“And to be frank with you, there are very few AC mechanics and workshops who quote the charges fairly for their service. Business slowdown could be a reason for some mechanics that indulge in such hanky-panky business,” said Afzal, laughing out loud .
The motorists and AC mechanics have also raised concerns for not getting warranty on AC compressors by spare part shops.
The dealers of car manufacturing companies that offer original spare parts and those selling tejari did not give a single day warranty on AC compressor, The Peninsula noted. (Original and genuine — which are manufactured by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and the ‘Tejari’ – non-original products similar to that of OEM but under different brand names.) Only scrap shops are giving just two days to the customers for returning if failed in fitting or not working after fixing.
“The high prices of AC compressors could be a reason for exorbitant charges of car AC repairs, Naimullah, an AC mechanic told The Peninsula. “The brand new original compressor of car is available for about QR3,000 at car spare parts agencies. The same tejari compressor costs about QR1,800. The scrap shops operating in the Industrial Area are selling this spare part at about QR1,200.”
Motorists and even mechanics pay a heavy price due to lack of warranty on compressor. “Recently I fixed air conditioning system of a car and charged about QR3,000 because the system required to change several parts like compressor, condenser, hoses, sensors, belts, pressure switch and valves.”
“Unfortunately the compressor stopped working within a week. The customer insisted that I fix the error at my cost however I told him clearly that the compressor has not warranty. As he was my regular customer so I paid from my pocket and replaced the compressor, said Naimullah.

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