I'm curious if there is an English word or idiom specific for a car mechanic that rips you off. In the case of a doctor, one could use charlatan, or quack.

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    Jack the Ripper? ;)
    – NVZ
    Apr 26, 2016 at 19:39
  • "Cowboy" perhaps.
    – BillJ
    Apr 26, 2016 at 19:46
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    Well, there are probably a dozen different ways a mechanic can "rip you off". They can simply be incompetent, they can charge you for work they didn't do, they can run up the bill with unnecessary work, and, of course, they can simply have unjustifiably high prices. Did you have a specific mode in mind?
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 27, 2016 at 12:10
  • Frank Zappa calls them "Flakes" in his song of the same name, although this more commonly refers to generally unreliable people (perhaps because of drug use or mental problems) rather than unscrupulous tradesmen. youtube.com/watch?v=jKE3ZLj7_V8 May 23, 2016 at 13:05

2 Answers 2



UK informal A person who makes or repairs something badly or clumsily.


UK informal A dishonest or careless person in business, especially an unqualified one.

"cowboy coach firms are alleged to have flouted safety rules"

An example can be seen on The Guardian "Round up cowboy mechanics, demands consumer body"

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    I think both of these are common in the UK, but not so much in the US. In particular, in my experience, "Cowboy" typically only takes its traditional meaning in the US. Apr 26, 2016 at 20:40

Mickey Mouse


: not deserving to be taken seriously : having little value or importance


Substandard, poorly executed or organized. Amateurish.

Who's in charge of this mickey mouse operation, anyway?

Urban Dictionary

Elkhart Lake — A racing school is a fantasy land business that leaves no room for Mickey Mouse mechanics or Goofy actions.

The Milwaukee Sentinel


: given to making a quick profit usually by shady or irresponsible acts


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