How to Protect Your Wallet & Your Vehicle
Let’s face it: unless you are an experienced mechanic, there will be a time and place that you visit a repair shop for vehicle maintenance. And for women, that experience can be overwhelming.
“Am I getting overcharged? Did they actually fix the problem? Do I really need that? That part costs what?! ”
I’m willing to bet that you’ve asked yourself some, if not all, of those questions when leaving a garage. And that’s perfectly okay. What’s not okay is automatically paying whatever the establishment charges you.
Helpless. We know the feeling you have when you swipe your card to pay for your new brakes or new transmission. We’re here to help you be more confident at the shop and know exactly what you’re paying for – every time. We’re here to help you take charge when it comes to regularly scheduled maintenance appointments and how to handle unexpected repairs.
Service and Maintenance
This may sound obvious, but your vehicle is a huge investment. Treat it as one! You take care of your body and get regular checkups at the dentist and doctor’s office; your car deserves the same. There’s a reason we put the mileage on your oil change sticker. In order to keep your car running as efficiently as possible, you must be proactive and take the necessary steps.
Always keep track of mileage or time milestones (10,000 miles, 25,000 miles, 60,000 miles, 100,000 miles). While it would be nice for the same set of four tires to last you 10 years, it’s not a realistic expectation – get to know how long each car part lasts and how often you should replace it. Different car dealers and auto shops offer different warranty programs – be sure to know exactly what your warranty covers.
Arm yourself with knowledge about your vehicle. Has it had any past problems? How long has it been making that random noise? When was the last time you bought new tires?
Lastly, be confident. Do some research and know what an oil change entails and how much it should cost. Know that you don’t need new brakes every time your car is inspected! (one of the many tricks some shops play on women). And while it may sound boring, give your vehicle’s manual a read for more important information. With this knowledge, you’ll have a better understanding if a quote is too high. In that case, feel free to contact other shops and compare prices. You do it for everything else, why not your car?
Collision and Insurance
Accidents happen. That’s just the nature of driving. Whether it’s your fault or not, don’t let an accident completely drain your bank account. Be sure to know what your insurance deductible is and what your insurance covers. If you are extremely dependant on your vehicle, whether it be for your job or way of life, we suggest keeping an accident fund to cover what your insurance doesn’t. Cars are part of our daily lives – could you go a month without yours? Make sure your policy includes an adequate rental agreement to keep you on the road while your car is getting fixed.
Don’t just simply agree when a repair shop uses an alternate or imitation part! If your insurance and/or warranty covers a new part (mileage permitting), you deserve a brand new replacement part. Some shops, like Rudy Schmid, will work with the insurance company and go to bat for you – others aren’t so nice. Again, being proactive is important.
I, a woman in the vehicle maintenance industry, sincerely hope you take this advice. Far too often have I seen women overcharged and taken advantage of due to shady and unethical repair shops. We must defeat the stereotype that women don’t know anything about cars – and save money while we’re at it.