Car Repair Tips for Women
Many women feel sidelined and ripped off by car mechanics because of their gender. Get tips on getting the most out of your garage and resources for women only car repair.
So, as a lady type, I don’t half feel uncomfortable when taking my car to the garage. A quick Google search tells me I am certainly not alone, as revealed by this survey conducted by Sheila’s Wheels. The general feeling is women in garages across the land feel as if they’re being looked down on and ripped off simply because of their gender. The reasons given are that garages are too ‘blokey’, the staff are patronising and rude, and that the atmosphere is intimidating.
The search will throw up plenty of horror stories too. There’s tales of work being charged for but not carried out, overcharging for work on the assumption that ‘she’s a woman, she won’t know the difference’. There are even online reports of personal threats against female customers who have complained about their treatment in car garages! However, things can and will get better. There has been a rise in female-only garages being opened, as well as in women qualifying as mechanics since 2006.
In the interest of closing this gender gap further, here’s a checklist guide to making these trips a lot less painful.
Do your research
As with everything else in life, shopping around never hurts. What do other customers say about the garage you’re considering? Are they good value for money? Do they offer good customer service? What’s the quality of their work? Be informed!
Ask your friends
Related to the above tip, ask around your friends and family. They may know a local mechanic who they trust with their own cars. Alternatively, they may have their own mechanic sh*t list of who to avoid.
Do it yourself
I’m not saying go and qualify as a mechanic yourself, but it never hurts to be informed. Learn how to check your oil level and add oil if needed, top up your tyre air pressure, jump start a car, change your fuse, that kind of thing. It could save you a lot of time, money and hassle in the long run.
Take a friend
Bring along a friend, either female or male, whatever makes you feel more comfortable. Having someone else to bounce ideas off is great, and can stop you being coerced into repairs you don’t want or need, should the worst happen.
Watch your attitude
A women-only car repair shop in Washington DC in 1978.
Something that I’ve had to have explained to me, sadly. If you walk into your chosen garage with the attitude of ‘all these guys are going to rip me off’, then they are going to sense that negativity towards them and just not going to want to help you. If you were in their shoes, would you? Be positive, and you may be pleasantly surprised.
At least pretend you know your stuff
If you know what the problem is, awesome. Just explain it calmly to your mechanic and they can have you up and running in no time. If not, usually a quick Google of the symptoms will help you bluff your way through the diagnostics. Another handy tip I’ve picked up is to mark the part that needs mending, which a) is a handy reminder and b) serves as proof that the mechanic actually does mend it.
Get a written quote
It sounds like a pain, but do it. If you get an estimate in black and white it’s very hard for the garage to wriggle out of if things go sour.
Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion
So you’ve followed our advice and still have a complaint? Speak up. Tell the car garage in question, in writing. We don’t want to for fear of being ‘difficult’, but at the end of the day the garage will trade on the level of its customer service. If it isn’t good, why should you pay for it?
Finally, stick to a good’un like glue
If you find a garage you like dealing with, hold them close like a favourite child. Loyalty will become its own reward in time.
Want to know more? Well, if you’re interested in becoming a mechanic yourself, it’s worth checking out female friendly courses near you, such as those offered at Kilmarnock College. If you just want to keep your car running, check out these videos of how to check your oil, adjust your tyre pressure.