Getting the Fix: How to Know if a Mechanic Is Ripping You Off

Who doesn’t love being a girl? Great wardrobe selections, fabulous accessories and lots of fringe benefits make being a lady a whopping plus in today’s world. Unfortunately, when it comes to buying cars or getting cars serviced, being a member of the “fairer sex” can come with some major drawbacks. How many times have you been to the local mechanic only to leave with an unconscionable bill that leaves your head spinning and reaching for the aspirin? I know I have a time or two. Thankfully, with the help of a few friends, some research and a little insider knowledge of all things motor vehicle, you won’t need to worry about riding your broom to work after reading this.

Do a little homework
First of all, ladies, there are few things more annoying than a mechanic shop getting a phone call or in person visit, describing a “thingy” in the car that is making a “clankity clank clank” noise'”or something like that. Learn a little basic information about cars by using the tools at your disposal. By tools, I mean Internet. Type in the make and model of your vehicle and make a list of possible problems for whatever your clunker’s malady.

Once you have done a little homework, ask for three mechanic referrals from friends and family. Heck, you can even go online and use resources like Twitter or Facebook. Pick your venue and then look up the business records online using resources like the Better Business Bureau.

Call first
After learning a bit about your chariot, pick up the phone and make some calls. Speak intelligently about the issues with your vehicle, using the technical terms that you learned from the research that you completed online. Once finished, ask the gentleman on the other side of the phone for a preliminary cost estimate. You may or may not be successful, but at least he knows you mean business.

Get three estimates
Have your car evaluated by three mechanics from different service providers. Consolidating those expert opinions will lead you to the most probable solution at the best possible price.

For routine services, “test drive” a local mechanic. If you bring the car in for an oil change and they want to do an engine overhaul, it is usually a sign that you have landed smack dab in criminal mechanic land.

Listen, don’t speak
For some of you, this is going to be a difficult proposition. The secret to finding a reputable, honest mechanic comes in the listening to him, not speaking to him. Do whatever you have to do (buy a muzzle) but listen to him talk. A trustworthy mechanic will tell you what is wrong with your car, what needs to be fixed now and what can wait for another day.

When you find someone you trust, stick with them like glue
Let’s face it. The ordinary high heel-wearing woman doesn’t quite connect with your everyday mechanic. Many a news expose has been showcased in the past decade, showing how mechanics will go over and above when providing bogus estimates to the ladies, taking them for the ultimate ride. When you find a mechanic you know you can trust, stick with them like glue. Because, ladies, let’s face it, a good man is hard to find.

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