“This is a man’s world, this is a man’s world, but it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or girl” – Unfortunately, the world may not agree with James Brown’s viewpoint. According to the results of a new study conducted at Northwestern University, as a woman, you are more likely to be ripped off at the mechanic shop compared to a man. Another article echoes the same sentiment, the chances of you getting bamboozled are higher, even though women are often better at haggling. How do you avoid getting duped? Simple, knowledge is everything!
Let’s look at some of the common areas where women can get ripped off, and what to do about it.
ASK TO SEE THE PROBLEM
Many times the problem we face sounds more complicated than it really is. When you see a busted wiper blade or a busted radiator you get a better grip of the problem, rather than the “I-don’t-believe-him/her” feeling. If you mechanic throws a bunch of car jargons at you, ask him to simplify the explanation or show you what is wrong and take you through the measures he would take to repair it. If the mechanic is unhappy to do so, take your money elsewhere. It is also advised to get a written record of the repairs with detailed pricing to get quotes from other mechanics.
To put it in perspective let’s give you an example.
You bring in your car for oil changes, the mechanic suggests a tyre replacement. When you ask to see the problem he/she shows you the rip in your tyre, you can see a part of it is ripped and flat. It’s easier to put your trust and money into the repair knowing exactly what needs fixing and how it would be fixed. A good mechanic will also steer you towards discount tyres available to save you some cash.
P.S.: A flat tyre does not always need a replacement. Inspect the tyre. If the puncture is in the tyre tread, it can be repaired without any replacement. A quick internet search will educate you on the matter and give you a price estimate which you can use to haggle.
URGENCY OF THE REPAIR
There are some repairs that are needed and then some that are recommended. The changes that are needed are the ones that can lead to safety hazards or the break down of your car if not repaired on time. Recommended measures are good to have but don’t come with a dire deadline. Ask the mechanic whether the repair is needed or recommended. If he says it’s the latter you have the option of skipping it. If he says a repair is absolutely needed, ask for proof. If the mechanic says you need automatic transmission repair, and shows you that the transmission fluid is soiled you know you need the repair. If you still want a second option, it’s always welcome. You can see a transmission specialist if the repair in question is an expensive one.
MORE THAN EXPECTED
Say you took your car in for brake replacements, but the mechanic now tells you, you need your ignition system repaired, your tyres need a change, your spark plug needs replacing… we would look at the matter with a pinch of suspicion. You know your car. You know how it drives. If your car is old and has run its course, the mechanic may be right, but if your car is just a few years old, runs smoothly, chances are you are being taken for a ride. When in doubt refer to your owner’s manual. Does it recommend a spark plug replacement in this period, if it does, does the mechanic have a good reason and it is better to get it replaced?
It’s always better to compare notes or go to a mechanic recommended by family or friends where you know they have a good track record and someone to testify it.
PASSING OLD AS NEW
Your mechanic has recommended replacing a part and has said he will be using new parts, you have agreed on the same. It’s always a smart move to check the part out before the replacement and to also ask to collect the faulty part that has been replaced. This way you can make sure you got what you paid for. You can ask the mechanic if they are using OEM parts or aftermarket ones, and you can do a bit of internet research to spot the difference between the two. Also, ask to see the original bill from the manufacturer. You can even ask for an estimate and then compare the prices online. The price of the OEM parts tend to be on the higher side, hence it’s important to double-check
GET A SECOND OPINION
There is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion. It doesn’t even have to be a professional one. If your car is drivable you can ask a car enthusiast friend, family member or colleague to check it out for you. When picking a place to get a second opinion from always pick one that you are 100% sure of, there is no point in getting a rigged second opinion.
Do a quick search online to see how the basic car parts work and the questions you should ask a mechanic before getting the repairs. If the mechanic does not dodge any questions and answers them satisfactorily, it’s most likely you are in good hands.
HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT GARAGE
Reputation speaks for itself. Ask the garage for a list of their regular customers and their testimonials. A good garage should ideally have this in place. Look at the place, is it tidy and organised? If yes, it’s safe to assume the same applies to the rest of their business as well.
Test the waters first. Go in for a small repair to gauge whether the mechanic is trustworthy or not. Start with a small servicing/repair or MOT and analyse their performance. You can then have the work evaluated by another garage or a trusted expert, if they pass the test, you can entrust them with your car and be rest assured your money is being put to good use and you will get a bang for your buck as promised!