There is a perception or stereotype as the case may be, that mechanics tend to overcharge women because many typically don’t know or understand as much about cars as the average man. In America’s male-dominated car culture, it could very well be true for some vehicle repair garages. If you are a woman, there are several things you can do to help level the playing field when you are in the market for a mechanic.
Edmunds suggests that first, you need to weigh your priorities, which can include cost and quality of repairs. Car dealer mechanics are specialists who work on your vehicle make and model regularly, if not exclusively. They are supported by other specialists and given ongoing training as well. Unfortunately, repairs made by car dealers are typically more expensive than independent garages.
There are plenty of good mechanics who don’t work at dealers. However, it may be harder to find them going garage to garage. Ask friends, neighbors and relatives for recommendations if you decide to go with an independent garage. In addition to shopping around, use the following tips to help find a repair shop you can live with when you need vehicle repair.
- ASE certification: The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence holds twice-yearly exams. Mechanics must have two years of experience in the repair field and do well on the test to become ASE certified for vehicle repair. Ensure the technician who works on your car has these credentials.
- Vehicle make: Today’s vehicles have complicated systems that vary with each manufacturer. Your service technician should have the training, tools and experience to work on your specific machine.
- OEM parts: Ask the garage to use components from the original equipment manufacturer, which are made to exact specifications to fit your vehicle. Aftermarket parts may be cheaper, but quality varies by maker. Not using OEM parts can also void manufacturer warranties.
- Ask questions: Make the mechanic explain anything you don’t understand. That includes new technologies and how they work. Becoming more educated about your vehicle is always a good thing.
The biggest upset to vehicle owners is the cost of repair work. To ensure you are not blind-sided, make sure you understand the hourly rate for labor, which can vary before you leave your vehicle at the shop. Ask the garage to detail the costs for each item along with the labor. This will ensure they don’t put too high a markup on parts and give you the cost of labor for each part as well. If you really want to be a stickler, ask to see the manufacturer’s estimate guide for how long repairs should take for each part.