Are Women Charged More for Car Repairs? 6 Tips to Help Women at the Mechanic

Updated on March 7, 2017
Source

Nine in ten women believe they are treated differently at auto-repair shops than men are.

Background information

“I have some bad news for you.” I was getting tired of hearing this same line over and over this past year as I attempted to keep my daughter’s late model Ford on the road. When my mechanic would call, I would brace myself and just wait for that line – it always came.

Finally, two mechanics later - I cut my losses and sold the car to salvage. I had no way of knowing whether the repairs to the car (which cost me at least $2000) were valid and every time we turned around the car was back in the shop, never really fixed and always breaking the bank.

“Nine in ten women believe they are treated differently at auto-repair shops than men are,” says Jessica Anderson, Kiplinger.com. The information is from a national study done by the Car Care Council, an association that encourages consumer education.

According to Danielle Kurtzleben,US News, three Northwestern researchers wanted to know if women were treated differently based on their gender. Their study showed, “…that shops appear to have an attitude that 'if you're well informed you get the price that we cite to well-informed people, and if you're poorly informed, whether you're a man or woman, we cite you the price that we cite to poorly informed people.'" Apparently, women fall into this category more readily than man.

The Huffington Post shared a story about the Nightline Prime series called “The Lookout” wherein undercover cameras were sent to local mechanics and national chains – their findings, according to Huffington were, “... men were more likely to get only what they came into the shop for, while women were more often lied to and tricked into spending more money. Most of the time, the additional work the women were paying for wasn't even done, as there wasn't a problem to begin with.”

Source

Six Tips

In light of my research, not all mechanics will overcharge for repairs. Many are doing an honest job - so this is not an article to 'raise your hackles"!! This is an article to assist women in making sure that they know how to negotiate a fair deal. I decided to find out and better prepare myself for the future. Here is some of what was discovered and I've written up as 6 tips to assist you:

1. Many experts are pointing to a free app called, “Repair Pal”. The site offers a free “estimator” that allows you to plug in your vehicle information and then provides you with a close estimate of what the repair should cost in your area.

2. Author Lauren Fix also recommends using an ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) mechanic. A sign should be posted in a visible location at the shop. The ASE site says, “The non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) works to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals. Today, more than 330,000 professionals hold ASE certifications, and work in every part of the automotive service industry. Just look for the blue-and-white ASE insignia.”

3. Fix also recommends that you go armed to a mechanic with as much information as possible about the issue your car is having by asking yourself questions such as:

What does it sound like?

What does it smell like?

What does it feel like?

For instance, if a car smells like “rotten eggs”, this information can help a mechanic pinpoint issues easier.

4. Audra Fordin is a woman and a mechanic. She offer 10 tips that are worth reading. Tips as simple as “maintain correct tire pressure” and “ask your mechanic to show you the problem” help you know your car better and maintain good upkeep as well as assure you that you aren't getting ripped off.

5. Along with showing you the problem, Fran Lostys (Reader’s Digest) says you should, “Always ask for your old parts back." You or someone you know who knows cars needs to inspect the parts for wear or breakage. Don't hesitate to ask your mechanic for a demonstration of what exactly is broken or damaged on the part. "This way," says Lostys, “you’ll know they’ve been changed.”

6. Finally, I'll add my own tip. Let your husband deal with car repairs or take a man (boyfriend, brother, cousin, friend) with you if you can. Why? In my personal experience – men listen better to men. And in the world of automobiles, we’ve already seen that mechanics typically assume that women know less than men. When it comes to cars, there’s a certain amount of the “good ole boys” mentality. Take a man with you if you can – you're less apt to get ripped off. I have not proved this theory, but I highly suspect it’s true in some cases. In short, it can't hurt.

As a woman, do you think you were ever overcharged for car repair?

See results

Conclusion

In conclusion, I’ve learned about this topic the hard way. Hopefully, with these tips and a few tools women can better navigate the car repair world finding a fair and honest price from mechanics for needed fixes.

NOTE: IF you have a complaint that you cannot settle with an automotive shop manager, different states handle automotive complaints different ways and you’ll need to do a little research before moving forward.

REFERENCES

Anderson, J. (n.d.). How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off for Auto Repairs. www.kiplinger.com. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from http://www.kiplinger.com/article/cars/T009-C004-S001-how-to-avoid-getting-ripped-off-for-auto-repairs.html#ecLGUQ2Brm1e3gT1.99

Home - ASE. (n.d.). Home - ASE. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from http://www.ase.com

Hughes, J. (2013, June 20). 'The Lookout': Mechanics Caught Lying About Auto Problems To Charge More (VIDEO). The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/the-lookout-mechanics-lying-problems-video_n_3470125.html

Kurtzleben, D. (2013, June 27). Auto Repair Shops Really Do Charge Women More (Sometimes). US News. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/06/27/study-auto-repair-shops-really-do-charge-women-more-sometimes

Lostys, F. (n.d.). 13+ Things Your Car Mechanic Won’t Tell You. Reader's Digest. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from http://www.rd.com/advice/saving-money/13-things-your-car-mechanic-wont-tell-you-slideshow/

Munoz, K. (2013, May 13). How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off By A Mechanic, From Lauren Fix (VIDEO). The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/13/how-to-avoid-getting-ripped-marlo-thomas-mondays-with-marlo_n_3266532.html

AAA Survey on Car Repair

 
 
1 in 4
Could not pay for a car repair of $2000
1 in 8
Could not pay for a car repair of $1000
50%
Percentage of American drivers holding onto older vehicles because of financial reasons
25%
Percentage of American drivers neglecting repairs and maintenance due to economic reasons
38%
Percentage of American drivers who would use savings to pay for $2000 car repair bill
20%
Percentage of American drivers who would use a credit card to pay for $2000 car repair bill
http://newsroom.aaa.com/2011/08/1-in-4-cant-pay-for-major-car-repair/ August 3, 2011

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        EBS Racing 

        3 months ago from Reno, Nevada, United States

        It is true there are some mechanics who try to overcharge for car repairs especially when deal with the women customers. Thus, it is imperative to understand the nuances correctly about car repairing so as to avoid the hackles. This write-up gives some great tips, following which can surely make things easy. Visit: https://www.ebsracing.com/

      • profile image

        Carl Boykins 

        6 months ago

        This is an unfortunate trend that I began to see in the car business a while back. I was surprised when JMP Autowerkz treated my wife with such respect and were honest about the price. It gets very tricky in Canoga Park. It is embarrasing when they tell your wife a price and then see her husband on the next visit. Go with jmpautowerkz.com if you live in Socal.

      • profile image

        Minorkle 

        12 months ago

        As a good looking young woman, I find the mechanics love me and I receive excellent service

      • profile image

        Olivia Morris04 

        14 months ago

        Yes, often when you go to a car repair workshop you don't have any clue that how to deal with the situation , but if you approach a women car mechanic then she can explain the problems in the car condition and if your car needs repair and maintenance then women mechanic will fix the issues at per your expected budget. Some times, car mechanic charges more money for the car repair but if you go for a women car mechanic who are knowledgeable and experienced enough to do the repair job of the car in more effective way. I have my BMW car and once it get old, I will surely do the car maintenance from a reputed vehicle repair workshop. I will insist that it is better to have on board women mechanic who are as professional as their male counterpart. Nice blog to appreciate and good to hear women mechanic are doing a great job. Thanks a lot for the tips. I will recommend this inspirational blog.

        http://www.europlusautomotive.com/

      • profile image

        Bernice 

        19 months ago

        it's not women get charged more I think opposite I think when you don't know you tend to say yes to they're truth. I own a collision repair center and many men have told me in privacy that they have no idea what we do and they are embarrassed to ask. So it's my job as a professional to explain as much as possible. It's your job to do the research not to become an expert but at least to have some knowledge of what's going on. Most business's are out to help and do the best of the best of what knowledge they know that day, they're are only a few bad apples out there. So I feel it's not gender related now a days it's more about that you didn't do your research. If someone tells you, you're dyeing of cancer will you take that as your final sentence?

        stop blaming others, please take ownership.

      • profile image

        Sergio Freddson 

        3 years ago

        It's sad but it's true. I always to go with my wife because otherwise she sometimes gets charged 3x the normal rate for an oil change. It's just sad that it's still this way at so many shops. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of ethical shops these days as well, I just wish it didn't ever happen. Thanks for sharing your tips with us! http://www.byrdauto.com/vehicle-repair-maintenance...

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        4 years ago

        As you advise, I always have my hubby talk to the mechanic because they seem to communicate better about what is needed. I believe women to get charged more on repairs because they don't know how to ask the right questions. Great post and full of wisdom.

      • carlajbehr profile imageAUTHOR

        Carla J Swick 

        4 years ago from NW PA

        Go Denise!! & Ms. Dora - thank you both for reading!!!

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        4 years ago from The Caribbean

        Very good information to share with the sisters. We do get bamboozled by thoughtless mechanics, and you have given us a reasonable guide on how to avoid it. The AAA statistics are interesting. Thank you very much.

      • denise.w.anderson profile image

        Denise W Anderson 

        4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

        I echo your sentiment! When traveling with my husband, we tested a mechanic before we decided to use their services. We determined what our dialogue would be, then I went in first. After getting the estimate, we would leave, then come back later and he would go in. If the answers were the same, we knew we could trust the mechanic!

        One day when I went in for a scheduled car repair, the mechanics scattered as I walked in the door. I had to hunt up someone to talk to. I wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. I started it "Dear Mechanic." Then I proceeded to tell them how I felt about the treatment I received. I signed the letter, "Frustrated Female." I received several calls from them asking if I was the one who wrote it. In the letter, I let them know that I know more about cars than most men, and that they did me a great disservice by ignoring me. Then I told them I would not be back to their shop.

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