Women and Cars: How to Break Gender Stereotypes

Ever get that sinking feeling in your stomach when taking your car in for maintenance? As a woman, unfortunately, this is all too commonplace. That’s because the auto repair industry has earned quite the reputation for taking advantage of female customers.

Of course, while there are countless honest mechanics out there, you and your girlfriends could probably write a book based on the number of times you were told something needed fixing that likely was in fine condition or being upsold to buy some unnecessary new part or service.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to break these gender stereotypes and feel more empowered when you visit a local auto shop.

For example, check out the following examples:

Learn the 4-1-1 on Tires

If you’ve ever brought your car in for an oil change, only to have a mechanic suggest you replace all four of your fairly new tires, then it’s definitely time to learn everything you can about your tires. Fortunately, there are countless online options from which to choose.

For example, YouTube is chock full of video tutorials and how-tos that show you how to use a penny and/or a quarter to check the tread depths on your tires, as well as how to spot signs of wear that indicate it’s time to replace them. This way, if a mechanic says your tires are bald and unsafe, you can take a coin out of your pocket, place it into the treads and determine right then and there that your tires feature plenty of tread.

Another option is to avoid the mechanic altogether by purchasing your tires from an online retailer like TireBuyer.com, which features a vast selection of brand-name tires, as well as guides to help determine which type of tire is ideal for your ride. Best of all? You can have the tires delivered directly to your home or to a trusted auto body shop.

Be Aware of Upselling

One of the best ways to avoid being taken by a mechanic is to educate yourself on the most common scams. As Liberty Mutual notes, upselling extra (unnecessary) services is one way some mechanics try to take advantage of you. For example, if you bring your car in for an oil change, they may claim your air filter needs replacing to get the best possible gas mileage.

However, most owner’s manuals suggest you buy a new air filter every 15,000 miles (if you drive on dirt roads) to every 45,000 miles (if you spend a lot of time on dry freeways). In general, air filters last between two and three years, so if you bought a new one last year, let your mechanic know and decline on paying for a replacement.

Always Ask for Written Estimates

After your mechanic goes over everything in need of repair — and suggesting some items that could likely wait — you might end up feeling overwhelmed by all the information being thrown at you. Thus, if you’re unsure and want a second opinion, particularly to compare price points, don’t hesitate to ask for a written estimate before agreeing to any repairs.

The estimate should break down each service by cost and include any suggested new parts. If something feels off about the estimate or you’re feeling pressured to get everything done that day, you can always cancel the service and go elsewhere.

The More You Know, the Better

Knowledge is power — and this is especially true for women who want to avoid gender-related stereotypes and scams at any local auto shop. By educating yourself about car parts, knowing common up-sell strategies and the age of various older car parts, you’ll be well on your way to feeling more confident when taking your car in for service.

Thanks to Fatima

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