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How many women are wary of auto mechanics because they think they’ll be stereotyped? For years, there have been theories that some mechanics are dishonest with customers who they assume know less about cars. And yes, that often includes women.
Contrary to the stereotype of women being less knowledgeable about automotive issues, one study found this discrimination actually affects both genders. The reason for the discrimination lies heavily in one factor: who is poorly informed versus well informed.
Former studies have found that oftentimes well-informed individuals get one price, while poorly informed individuals get a higher price – whether they’re a man or woman. In addition, a different study found that 44 percent of women have a negative view of automotive service, with 86 percent of study respondents saying “a more transparent experience, i.e. knowing exactly what [they’ll] be paying up front for the job…would improve the process.”
Because women are often the stereotypical recipient of this bias, what can be done? Here is some car advice for women that may help slash the problem:
- Do your research.
Just like researching a strange bout of health symptoms for yourself or a family member, do the same for your car’s symptoms. Are you hearing an odd noise towards the back of the car? Do your wheels rattle when you hit a bump? Do you smell something strange? Look online for car problems that may align with its symptoms so you have an idea of what to expect when you talk to a mechanic.
- Use the latest technology.
There are many smartphone apps that can help you become more informed about auto repair. For example, a free app called “Repair Pal” allows you to plug in your vehicle information, then gives you an estimate of what the repair will likely cost in your area. Another app called “Car Minder Plus”, which costs $2.99, helps you keep track of your car maintenance needs, like oil changes, tire rotations and other necessary services.
- Choose a shop with certified technicians.
Certification says a lot about the technicians employed by the auto shop. For example, an Automotive Service Excellence certification means the tech passed testing conducted by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Look for the blue and white ASE insignia at the auto shop to be sure.
- Reduce your need for auto repairs.
Being proactive is a great trick for preventing trips to the auto shop. Learn how to better maintain your car’s health so you won’t have to visit an auto shop for anything more than a periodic oil change, tire rotation or windshield chip. At minimum, learn how to maintain correct tire pressure, how to check your car’s oil and other fluids (like windshield washer fluid), and what each of the dashboard signals mean (like the check engine light).
- Ask your technician to show you the problem.
If you’re suspicious about a problem your technician reports, ask them to show it to you. This not only puts the tech in a position to prove the problem exists, it also demonstrates your assertiveness and confidence in the area of auto repair. It’s your vehicle and you don’t have to pay up without proof of a problem.
While this doesn’t verify that discrimination happens in all auto shops, it does prove the importance of being well-informed before visiting one. The perception you convey is in your hands. Make sure you use this car advice for women so you come across as confident, firm and well-informed the next time you visit an auto shop.