It’s a rough go for women when they are dealing with Automotive Repairs. There are so many stories I hear daily of women being taken advantage of in this industry. Some of these horror stories include unfair pricing, unnecessary work being done and sometimes even full out verbal abuse. It is intimidating for a woman to walk into a mechanic shop, there’s no doubt about it. But what if I told it didn’t have to be. What if I told there are some easy, simple and effective tools you can have in your back pocket to ensure you are not taken advantage of. Well, the good news is, there is!
The first and most important rule is to NEVER tell the mechanic you know nothing about cars. Even if you don’t! I shudder when I hear these words come from anyone, men or women. You are putting a dollar sign on your head and becoming a target to get taken advantage of. Explaining your car trouble by saying there is a whirring noise coming from the front end is perfectly fine. It is up to the mechanic to diagnose the issue, not you. Give as many details as you can without adding “I have no idea what it is” or “I don’t know what’s wrong, just fix it”. Keep those lines for your girlfriends and never utter them to the shop you take your vehicle to.
The second rule is knowing what questions to ask. When you have handed over your keys and your mechanic comes back to with a diagnostic, no matter what it is, ask questions! Simple questions that will clarify the issue for you and make the mechanic accountable to his quote. A few examples of key questions to ask are:
“Is this what was causing the …. (noise, thumping, stalling, over-heating, etc.)”?
“Is this problem a drivability issue”? If yes “Why”? (This ensures that the work they are quoting you is, in fact, necessary and not just them trying to sell a job)
“Can I see a break down of the cost”? All automotive shops should be able to back up their quote with a break down of the exact expenses that make up the total for repairs. If something looks fishy, ask about it, and don’t leave without a comprehensive explanation.
The third rule of taking you car to a mechanic is never be afraid to request a second opinion. If you receive a quote and your confused as to the repairs they have suggested, or you know one or more the issues had already been dealt with recently, tell the mechanic or advisor you would like to take the car for a second opinion. While this could cost you a bit more by paying for two diagnostics’, it could save you hundreds if the first place was untruthful with their quote. Never feel that you are bound to that one shop or that you are not entitled to a full and comprehensive quote. If they are not providing you with one, then you best get it to another garage.
The last tip I offer you is this… If they cannot back up their work or diagnostic with an comprehensive explanation, take your car and get out of there! Whether you are an automotive guru or completely clueless, your quote needs to be backed up with a full and detailed description, if only for your piece of mind.
Never be afraid to ask questions, never feel you are not entitled to a full explanation, and never ever walk away feeling you have been taking advantage of.