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How to Be a Kick-Ass Female Customer at an Auto Repair Shop

Don't be an uninformed "Damsel in Distress!"

by
Becky Graebner

Bio

October 24, 2013 - 8:00 am
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Smart Ladies are the Prettiest Ladies.

Knowledge Is Power

Women who gather information about the repair’s market rate, tell the repair shop they’ve done their research, and ask for a discount will likely get one. – The Atlantic

Most people have access to the internet. Use it. Look up the repair you need so you know exactly what is going to happen and what parts will be required.  This way, you’ll know if they’re trying to lump in unnecessary parts and repairs that have nothing to do with what you need. Even if you go into the shop not knowing what’s wrong with your vehicle, you can leave (without getting service) and do some research at home before committing to the repair.

It also doesn’t hurt to become acquainted with the parts that are replaced/rotated the most often on your vehicle.  That way, you’ll know when to say no to “suggest repairs.”  I suggest knowing how old your wiper blades, air filter, and tires are–and also being aware of the last time your tires were rotated and your oil was changed.

Case in point: If a mechanic asks to replace your air filter (which looks fine) after only half of the recommended time between replacements has passed, you’ll know to say “no.”

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
$90 may be at the high end, but it isn't unusual.

Lets say that the car uses Mobil 1 synthetic oil, and the vast majority of new cars do use synthetic. Even if you buy it an auto parts store you're going to pay about $40 for a 5 quart jug. Add in another $15 for an oil filter and you're up to $55.

Your point is well taken about shopping around, however that advice may still not keep you from being ripped off.

Last week the ignition key in my wife's car wouldn't turn, a problem that is epidemic among GM cars built from around 2002 to 2010. There are many TSB's (Technical Service Bulletins) addressing this issue. Before I could look at it she had it towed from her office to the dealer. The dealer quoted a price of $600 for the repair. They wanted to replace the ignition lock and cylinder as well as the housing. Labor charges included the re-coding of lock and reprogramming of the ECU to recognize the new components.

Fortunately I am of an age that when I was an adolescent male not only did I have an interest in cars, but I was expected to be able to repair them on my own, as were all males during that era. I looked up the TSB and bought the replacement part on Ebay. The part was the same GM part that the dealer would have supplied.

End of story, the cost of the repair was $28 and around and hour of my time.

Searching around for quotes from independents is a good idea. An even better idea is to make friends with a crusty old bastard (male or female) who has some life experience and good mechanical skills from whom you can learn.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (31)
All Comments   (31)
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my classmate's step-mother makes $61 an hour on the internet. She has been without work for ten months but last month her payment was $13315 just working on the internet for a few hours.......www.Bay95.com
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Google is paying 80$ per hour! Just work for few hours & spend more time with friends and family. Yesterday I bought a top of the range Lancia after having made $9458 this month. Its the most-financialy rewarding I've had. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out www.Pow6.com
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree with the folks that you should establish relationship with a good repair shop/mechanic if you can find one. Both men and women get taken advantage of, a shop that will cheat a woman will cheat a man. I am willing to pay a bit more to folks who get the job done right. It used to be a dealership would charge more, but always did things correctly. Not true anymore.

Follow the recommended change intervals in the owner's manual and know why. Especially if you buy a used car and didn't bother to verify its repair history. For example, a timing belt is expensive to change due to the amount of labor and may last well beyond the recommended interval, but on an interference engine its failure is catastrophic and causes a lot of much more expensive damage. My daughter passed on a good deal on a used car because they couldn't verify whether the belt had been changed.

Also, different dealers will charge different amounts for the same part. Shop around.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
up to I saw the draft 4 $5028, I have faith that...my... friends brother actually bringing home money part time at there labtop.. there mums best friend started doing this for only about six months and just now repayed the dept on there condo and got a great new Chevrolet. you can check here >>>>> http://x.co/2hNL1
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I like the first suggestion but not so much the other two. Absolutely Be friendly and strike up a conversation with your attendant and go on further to develop a good working relationship with the shop's owner and employees. Then stick with that shop; don't farm out your common maintenance to Jiffy Lube just because it's $10 cheaper for an oil change. Once you develop a good working relationship with the shop, don't try to bargain on price. Knowledge is power? You could spend a few hours on the model-specific car forums finding out every detail of your upcoming timing belt change. But if you have a good relationship with your auto repair shop, you don't need to.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
It seems almost a reflex on the part of automobile salesmen & repair shops to exploit the female customer. Your job, should you decide to accept it, is to come armed with indisputable knowledge and facts before even walking into the place and to be prepared to walk away when the song & dance starts.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
The automobile salesmen's job is to make money selling cars. He'll take advantage of the male customer just as readily as a female. He will size you up and decide what you can afford, the likelihood of you becoming a recurring customer, then show you the cars giving him the greatest profit. Depending on his circumstance his interests may be in short term profit (bad month for him/isn't planning on selling cars for years etc.) or long term customer relation. Agree on knowing your stuff but, you should be projecting the image you want the salesman to see. Ideally that you're probably just able to afford the car you're interested in. Never talk your occupation, income, or payments. Talk purchase price. Leave the payment thing to the very last with the finance person. You should be sizing up the salesman as well. How's his month been? Is this a good time of the year for sales? What are the cars giving him the most incentives? Yep, know what you're willing to pay and walk away if you can't get it.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whenever you buy a car - particularly a used car - always, always, always pick up the Haynes or Chilton repair manual for that model. It's only about $30, and it will tell you most everything you need to know about your vehicle. In some cases, you may find out that the repair isn't that difficult after all, and you can do it yourself. In almost every case, you will know enough to be able to detect the frauds and scams.

I've been doing this ever since I bought my first car (1976) - on the advice of a friendly senior NCO in my squadron - and I have saved thousands of dollars over the years. I am now at the point where I do all of my own repairs, unless it involves opening up the engine block or transmission case, or requires specialized tools/equipment that I do not have.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
If theres a big dealership nearby, just take it there. They almost always have deals that include something like rotations, other fluids, brake pads, etc. Some will even wash the exterior for you. And this is a whole lot less than $90.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's terrible advice. The dealership is usually the most expensive place to get anything done.


Generally, the only time you should use a dealership is if you personally know somebody there, or if it's a recall item being done for free.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I disagree. I do most of my own mechanic work, but for years, when the Army kept me from having the time to have it repaired, I had my wife take our van to the dealer. I knew them, and they did good work and didn't try to upsell my wife a bunch of stuff she didn't need. Lately, however, they've been getting flaky and unreliable, to the point where they've misdiagnosed several items on my car and the cars of friends to the tune of thousands of dollars. Luckily I was able to double-check the diagnoses and take time off work to do it myself. I've literally saved myself, my in-laws and family and friends tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs by diagnosing and repairing vehicles myself, and the dealer has lost a formerly loyal customer. "Dealer" is not Latin for "always reliable, trustworthy and worth it." If you KNOW your dealer is reliable and trustworthy, they're worth the extra money. If not, you're dumping money down the drain just like with any other mechanic who's unreliable.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Over the years I have had dealers do terrible, incomplete and shoddy work on my vehicles. There are fantastic mechanics and terrible ones, and dealerships are not immune to hiring guys who don't pay attention or idiot managers who just want to keep their numbers up.

Also, I don't necessarily want to trust my car to a drive-thru oil change place that's run by a bunch of teenagers. I don't care if there's a $10 off special!
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good mechanics have plenty of return business and don't need to rip off customers to make money. When going to a repair shop for scheduled maintenance, look for a win-win solution. I got a better price for replacing timing belts by negotiating to come in on a slow day and to pay cash. I made prior arrangements to buy my own parts and show up at 7am at another shop. I avoided markup on parts and they got to do my work while they waited for the parts truck for other jobs. Another win-win solution is to combine maintenance of certain wear items. Sometimes it makes sense to replace certain parts when you've already paid for the labor in that area of the car.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't think there is any excuse for getting ripped off at a repair or service shop regardless of gender. Doing a bit of 'homework' will give you some idea of what you can expect to pay for an oil change. $98 is a bit steep for an oil change in my area. In NYC? That may be a bargain.

44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm a guy who knows less than many women do about cars. But I do know people. That may sound like an empty brag. It isn't, if only because by the time you reach late middle age you really should have learned how to spot the knaves and the essentially decent folk. That's what I look for in dealing with any service provider. Do I get a good vibe or a questionable vibe. If good, I go ahead. Foolproof? No. But what is? And if I get burned that's it, one time and out. It's also helpful to ask several locals about a particular repair shop. If they give it a consistent thumbs up you're less likely to get burned. Trust your instinct, there's no great shame in walking out of a shop after having talked about your problem and BEFORE you hand them your car keys, if the vibe is wrong.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
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