auto mechanics & women

This is the third time in three weeks that I had to take my car to the shop. The first time they just changed my oil and were to check the car out because it ran ragged since the last tuneup. Charged me $106. Had to take it back the next day and the mechanic had to connect the loose spark plug. Then got some sensor changed at the ford dealer because my car was revving up at odd moments. Paid $256, including $50 for evaluation. Three days later my alternator belt was so badly worn I had to leave it in a town 60 miles away so they could fix it (replacement belts keep popping off)
Question: Why in the world couldn’t someone spot a half worn alternator belt in a $50 evaluation?
Question: If you tell someone that your car has been running ragged since the last tune-up wouldn’t you check the spark plug connections?
Question: Do women just have “sucker” written on their foreheads in ink visible only to mechanics?

You’re probably right. I used to tell my mother that when she took her car for some critical repairs–brakes, tires, electrical–she should have my brother or me come along. (She was divorced about 25 years ago.) More recently, however, we are on a familiar basis with mechanics at a service station near home and the mechanics don’t take us for a ride now.
I knew a girl in high school, however, who is now lucky enough to have the “vibes” that tell a mechanic “Don’t even * think * about taking advantage of me!!” :slight_smile:

Sometimes, I’d say yes. Women get taken advantage of when it comes to cars, but so do men in business suits who can’t tell a alternator from a compressor. Mechanics know when you know what you want. Thats the biggest reason to learn a little something about the car.

Theres is a reasonable chance that the problems were a string of bad luck coupled with mechanics who didn’t take the time to do a full examination, just fix the obvious problem. One bad problem, masked a less obvious problem and so on.

The most important thing, if you have a old car that is in the shop alot, is to get a relationship with the mechanic, and have someone who knows their shit go with you.

I had that throttle regulator problem in my Mustang too. It only cost me about $90.

The best advice is to treat a mechanic just like any other service industry. If you take it in to get fixed, and its not running right. Take it back to them, and make them fix it at no cost to you. If they refuse either threaten to call the better business bureau, or take the business elsewhere and advise all your friends to do the same. In my experience mechanics have alot of pride, and want their work to be appreciated. If you treat them ike honest people, and not some ignorant grease monkey, they are going to be very helpful, and do everything to keep you satisfied. Call them sir/ma’am or by their first nam, and ask alot of questions. Ask them why they missed the spark plug problem the first time, and they’ll likely explain why, and/or admit a mistake and solve the problem.

Mechanics are usually in a position of autority and working on their honor, so its important that you do your part to make them acountable, and inspire them to want to help you.

my favorite example of a situation i just KNOW would have been different were i male was when i took my car to sears for a new battery. apparently the mechanic backed up with the door open and hit a yellow pole (digression: re pointlessness, why are there all those yellow concrete poles specifically in places where they’re likely to be hit?) and generally smashed the hell out of my door.

of course, meek female that i am, i waited and waited AND WAITED in the little dank room for someone to tell me i was all ready to go. finally, when i realized that it had been about an hour since i had been told it would be “a few more minutes,” i went to check. there was my car, parked in the lot. i asked the nice man at the counter if i was done and could i pay now and leave, since i was abominably late for work.

the man at the counter would not meet my eye. he said, “you have some damage.” ??? i had no idea what he meant…he would not explain but told me to go look at the driver’s side door. when i got out there it was abundantly clear what had happened.

the good news is, for once i was able to articulate what was bothering me, in the crucial moment…“were you hoping that i would just grow old and DIE in the waiting room?” i yelled at him, “or when were you going to tell me you smashed my door?” he started to tell me that i was going to have to GET QUOTES on fixing it and sears would then choose which one to pay for, but i guess he saw something in my eyes and finally told me just to get it fixed and bring in the receipts.

now can you imagine that happening to a guy?

re: pointless

Those poles are in places you’re likely to hit because they’d rather the pole get hit than the building/equipment/pit/people on the other side of it.

Guess what–I have to have new front brakes too! I hope these people are honest. I can’t afford to drive a vehicle with bad brakes!

Thanks for the sympathy. BTW, I treat every individual like they are intelligent, reasonable, respectable, and honorable people–why would I treat a mechanic any differently? I just think some of them are taking advantage of ignorant consumers!

This reminds me of one of Jan Harold Brunvand’s best urban legends. A woman who is about eight months pregnant goes into a store and is detained because some nitiwit security guard thinks she’s hiding stolen merchandise under her clothes in front. Imagine!! No man would ever be detained this way!!

When my car needs something repaired I usually take it to the dealer. My theory is that the most qualified repairmen are at the dealers since a possible buyer can walk through at any time. Of course, this doesn’t work with ALL dealers (some just don’t care) but GMC seems to be good about it.

Another thing that works well for me is to actually stand and watch the mechanic working on my car for a couple of minutes. Yes, it’s probably bad manners, but even if you don’t have a clue what’s going on you can make them THINK you do.

And finally, learn to recognize danger signs. It’s not that hard. Here’s a few off the top of my head, courtesy of my father (who has 20 years of experience working on farm equipment and trucks):

  1. Learn how to check your oil and do so whenever you stop for gas (it only takes a few minutes and you can do it while waiting for the tank to fill up). A drastic change in oil levels can mean a problem (and if the car starts using a quart of oil a week and you don’t check it, you can run out without even knowing!).

  2. Remember the “normal” reading on your temperature gauge. If the gauge starts getting too hot or too cold (a change of twenty or thirty degrees) make an appointment with your mechanic and drive the car as little as possible until then (preferably not at all).

  3. Check your fan belts. Three cracks to the inch means they need to be replaced. Simple, huh?
    – Sylence

“The problem with reality is the lack of background music.” – Anon

The best way to learn about cars is to drive the POS model for a few years. Also, date a few grease monkeys. I did both, and just last week my truck died in a parking lot- just wouldn’t start. The battery was working fine, but no dice turning it over. So I got a ride home, had it towed to a shop and called the next day. Told them it was the starter (it was). He calls and says it’s $300 for a new starter. On a 1992 truck!! I say to myself “self- let’s check the internet”. So I found a used one for $75 and it’s on it’s way here now. I called the guy back and he said it will be $20 to put it in. Needless to say, he didn’t try to sell me any crap I didn’t need or whatever. Once you drive a piece of shit for a few years, you learn what every knock, ping, and rattle is. You also learn what can wait until next payday and where to get cheap parts.

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.

Zette, I’ve done what you did, driving the POS and dating a mechanic. I too highly recommend both. I learned to identify what were “weird” weird noises, and what were “normal” weird noises coming from a vehicle. I learned the difference between a “ticking,” a “flapping,” and a “clicking” noise. My ex-boyfriend happened to be a superior (and fully licensed) mechanic, and so, when I could accurately describe the noise, he could fix the problem. Thank the deities we split up on friendly terms. He still works on my car…but now he makes me pay for parts :slight_smile:

Once I tapped a fender while backing up, and we arranged for me to just pay the couple for getting it banged out and painted. I get a letter saying it was $1400. She said the guy explained at great length how the suspesion blah blah blah.

No way, I said. I bent the fender, period. Please take it somewhere else. This guy is a shark.

She writes back, “You were sooooo right.” It came out to $400. I told her that if she doesn’t in fact really know something about cars, to avoid going in garages alone, because some of these guys are real crooks.

On the other hand, I had a guy roommate get the same line of bull handed him about his brakes, being told “I can tell by the adjusters” that he needed new pads, etc. He went home and got out his “VW for Idiots” and found it doesn’t even have adjusters. He went back and raised a little hell.

IMHO get to know the folks a local garage. Go there for the little stuff like oil changes, emissions, lubes. Once you get comfortable with them and they know you the ‘rip-off’ factor drops way off.

But, ladies, women, and even you men out there, please, PLEASE take some kind of class or lay your hands on “Auto Repair for Dummies” because what you don’t know CAN and WILL hurt you.

I took three years of auto mechanics in high school mainly because I wanted to know how to care for my 65 Buick Special but also I couldn’t afford to take it anywhere. Now that things are different for me (newer car, more money) I can still tell with a 90% probability what’s wrong with my car.

IMHO it’s the same as anything else. Educate yourself. If they throw a bunch of lingo at you ask them to clarify. Ask them to show you. If they are honest (and a lot of them are good honest folks just making a living like you) they will. If they get defensive, pushy or degrade you, GET OUT!

The moon looks on many flowers, the flowers on but one moon.

In my experience, the mistake most women make is to go in to a repair shop, and essentially write them a blank check-most women (like my ex-wife) will say something like “my engine is broken, please fix it”. This immediately makes a mechanic start to slaver-he knows now that he has a “live one”, and he’ll do a total parts replacement job. Foer instance-a misfiring engine can be:
(a) a bad spark plug
(b) a bad spark plug wire or wires
© bad could
The “shark” will just replace everything!
Then, if he is really dishonest, he will “forget” to replace something-leading to another service visit.
There are plenty of good, honest mechanics out there-the trick is to find a good one, and stick with him! IF you are taken to the cleaners by a shark, don’t hesitate to fight back!