Would this parking scam work?

I saw this trick mentioned in a video. It seems plausible. It also doesn’t seem to be illegal even if it is something of a scam.

Let’s say you’re planning on driving your personal car to some major city for a day of shopping and seeing the sights. This city is densely populated and parking rates for a day are very high, let’s say twenty-five dollars a hour. You’re planning on spending several hours in the city, so you’re going to end up spending over a hundred dollars for just parking your car.

The scam is that instead of parking your car, you take it into a service garage and have them perform some routine maintenance like changing the oil. And you tell them when you drop off your car that you have other things to do so you’re not going to wait while the work is being done. You pay in advance, leave the car and its keys, and tell them you’ll be back to pick it up before the end of the business day.

You spend the day doing all of the stuff you wanted to do in the city then you go back and pick up your car at the garage and drive home. The cost of the oil change was less than what you would have paid for several hours of parking and as a bonus you got an oil change you would have been paying for at some point anyway.

Like I said, it sounds plausible to me. But I’ve never done it. Are there problems with this plan I’m unaware of? Do big city garages, for example, refuse to let customers leave their cars at the garage? Or do they charge an additional fee for customers that do this?

I’d think they’d charge you for parking.

I think this could feasibly work but you’d have to do more than ask them to change the oil. Perhaps a full service, which would take a few hours anyway. That’s not really a scam anymore though.

In what city would the cost of parking your car in a lot surpass the cost of an oil change?

Not sure about smaller service garages, but I’d think you wouldn’t have an issue at all if you went to a dealership and had the work done. Since many dealerships (at least the ones I know of), if you don’t have an appointment, they’ll fit you in sometime during the day. So you just tell them to call you when it’s finished and you say you’ll be there at closing time.

Doesn’t even sound like a scam to me. It seems more like a (for lack of a better word) 'life hack". In fact, as long as unless this became a problem, the garage would probably not even notice and/or be happy to do the work (and take the money).
If they have the money, you might even just be able to talk to the owner and see if you can park your car in their lot for a few hours if you give them however much money you think makes sense.

However, I’d make sure to carefully read anything you sign. It wouldn’t surprise me if some garages charge you for storage or have your car towed if you don’t pick it up within X hours. Seems like one of those things they wouldn’t use, but keep on the bill you sign just so they can use if if needed…like if they know you’re getting the cheapest possible service done so that you can leave your car there all day.

LA, NYC probably SF at the least.

There was a guy , I think in London, who would remove a wheel and put a note saying he had a flat tire so he would not get a ticket. They eventually figured out his scam.

LA- $18.50 seems to be the going rate for all-day parking.
NYC-$20 to $40
San Francisco-$15 to $30

Where are you going for an oil change?

Dealers for high end cars charge more than normal for just an oil change. Local shops it’s normally less than $50 at least around here in NC.

Yes, it seems like there is a broken premise. Not that I think it would be a scam if such a scenario existed, just that I don’t think the scenario is likely to arise. If parking cost a hundred dollars a day (and it’s not clear that such a city even exists), then an adjacent service station either a) will not exist or b) will almost certainly have to charge more for an oil change.

Yeah, parking is expensive in downtown Seattle, and I can’t think of a place within the downtown core where you could get an oil change. But if one exists, I think the OP’s idea would work fine.

One possible problem is the garage might close at 5pm or so, so you’ll need to get there to collect the car before then. It wouldn’t work if you’re planning an evening event.

As I recall, parking near the WTC was $25/hour a few years ago. But, I don’t remember seeing any garages in the area.

As an aside - my folks used to use a deal that a local motel near Dulles had: you could park for free for up to 1 week, if you stayed at least one night. It was not only cheaper, but more convenient for early flights.

Huh, I just did some googling and found your rates for NYC are accurate. (I was thinking about Manhattan when I posted this with maybe a side of Boston or Montreal.)

I’ll admit I haven’t been to Manhattan in several years. But I can remember driving there in the eighties and seeing parking lot prices of twenty dollars an hour. I’m amazed to see that prices have dropped so much. (My own parking hack was to drive down to Staten Island and park my car at the Staten Island Ferry lot and take the ferry into the city. If you got there after the morning rush, they would have sold all of their parking lot tickets for the day and they would let you park for free. Later I just skipped driving all together and took the train down.)

Are these current prices normal or are they a reflection of reduced activity due to Covid19?

I think it’s a scam. You’re basically paying for an oil change and getting an oil change and several hours of free parking. It’s not illegal but the garage would have set its prices on the assumption that their customers would leave when the job was finished.

I can see them tacking on additional charges for “problems” found and/or having it towed away when you don’t come to pick it up in a reasonable amount of time. Of course, there is the fact that you will have to leave a contact number for when they are done. Are you going to refuse to answer when they call?

Manhattan prices are often $35 for the first half hour (or hour), then $45 for the whole day or something.

The other problem with this plan is that, at least in Manhattan, the repair shops tend to be in the outer boroughs or way over on the outskirts of Manhattan – add back in your time to walk from 12 Avenue to someplace normal (or the cost of a cab) and you may not be saving much.

Free jack for me and free brake damage for him. Score!

In case you ever need it, there’s a jiffy lube in Belltown near the Cinerama (a few blocks from downtown). But I also know you can park nearby for about $20/day while an oil change is about twice that (but with this plan, you do get an oil change, too).