Monday, May 20, 2024 Detailed Auto Topics
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Frequently we hear stories of ladies who feel an auto repair shop has overcharged them. No evidence exists to suggest gender bias in pricing, so where do the feelings come from?

Many people believe that auto repair shops look for woman and overcharge them. I think this is far from truth, yet the notion persists. In fact, most service writers consider the vehicle and not the client when formulating a price. I have never seen gender taken into consideration. The feelings may come from making purchases that are out of our element.

Buying auto repair

Women purchase many things and are normally experienced shoppers. With most things purchased, the methods work well. This is because they standardize most things we purchase. For instance, a 30-inch Sony flat screen TV is the same at all stores that sell them. We find the lowest price, perhaps adding or subtracting a bit for convenience. Now we make the purchase.

Unfortunately, auto repair is totally different. First, we do not generally know what we need. This is far worse because we may think that we do. An example is a vehicle that is hard to start. We discuss the problem with friends and perhaps look on the internet for information. At some point we may decide a tuneup is the solution. Calling around gets all sorts of prices and now we are really confused. One shop quotes $125.00 and another quotes $400.00. Eventually we may settle for a price somewhere in the middle, purchase the work, and still have the same problem. What happened?

In this example, we are shopping for the wrong thing. We need our vehicle to start properly. What we shopped for was the average price charged for a vague service called a tuneup, which we did not need. This happens very often.

In reality, the fuel pressure regulator is leaking into the intake, causing the hard start. How might we have avoided this?

Learning what we need

We must know what's wrong before we can ask how much

What we need is a vehicle that starts reliably. We find this by telling a professional the symptoms and allowing them to diagnose the problem. Instead of asking for a service, we state, "My vehicle is hard to start." The proper professional will ask questions. "When does this occur, morning, evening, or after driving?" They test the many things that cause a hard start and eliminate all but the needed service. Only at this point do they prepare an accurate price quote.

Beware of meaningless terms

Words such as "tuneup" and "brake job" have no meaning. They invented these terms to avoid diagnosing a problem. Instead, the client decides what they want. Worse, what one shop calls a "tune up" may be totally different from another. The client buys what the shop sells them, and the problem remains, because they never diagnosed it.

Tell it like it is

Auto repair shops do not mind explaining what is wrong, but they are not mind readers. We must tell them when we do not understand. Letting them know our intentions is also imperative. If we plan to keep the vehicle for several years, they need to know. Some folks do not plan to keep a vehicle and the service recommendations will be different for each.

If we let our service writer know the symptom and our intentions for the vehicle, they will match the recommendations to our needs. The costs are based on the complexity of the job and the quality of the components used. Dealing with a reputable business will always provide the overall lowest cost, no matter our gender.

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