Just last week I ran into a problem that was a first for me. I was driving down the street in Harrisonburg and my “check engine” light came on which could mean anything! Nobody enjoys a trip to the mechanic, but it is especially hard for women. The thing is, this minor car issue wasn’t the big problem. My problem was that I am a woman and apparently, being a female means that it is likely I will be taken advantage of by many mechanic shops. According to the Daily Mail, “New research states women are quoted higher sums for the same service than men”.
“One in three women drivers say they have been ripped off by ‘sexist’ car mechanics for repairs on their vehicle. A third of women believed garages had overcharged them for servicing and repair work done to their car – purely because they are female and younger women in particular felt that technicians had charged them extra” (Massey, 2017).
“The average yearly maintenance and repair costs for a new car is around $1,186, according to AAA. Though women may be paying more on average than men. A woman’s perceived lack of knowledge is one of the contributing factors to women paying more for car repairs. Whether that means overcharging them or selling them on things they don’t need, some mechanics do take advantage of those who seem to be out of their depth” (Leamey, 2020). I am sure there are honest mechanics out there, don’t get me wrong, but it did make my dad as well as myself uncomfortable knowing I was about to go in alone. We were concerned that I would get taken advantage of because I was a woman, and I did not know much about my car. After doing some research, I learned that I am not alone, and many women feel the same way. Ratemyrepairshop.wordpress.com stated, “I soon realized that the women coming to the shop often felt uncomfortable. They felt that if they didn’t understand how an engine or transmission worked they would be treated unfairly.” This got me thinking, why does simply being a woman mean that I automatically don’t know anything about cars and deserve to be ripped off?
My dad was so uncomfortable with me going to the local auto shop by myself he asked my boyfriend to go along with me. He also requested that the mechanic call him with the price quote and list of repairs needed. I felt trapped and incompetent. It was ridiculous that we had to go through this much effort just so I wouldn’t get taken advantage of. According to aceable.com, “Women are doomed when they admit or come across as if that they have no clue about pricing or about cars. In a study, women were quoted an average price of $406, while men were quoted $383”. How is this acceptable? My boyfriend and I dropped the car off and after an hour or so we received the quote. My father contacted the mechanic and reviewed the estimate line for line to discover an over charge of $125. It was very frustrating and disappointing that my father had to step in and make sure I was being treated fairly. The work was completed at the new agreed price and I was back on the road, but I was not feeling good about it.
I learned a lot from this experience, and I would like to try to help other women. According to the Daily Mail, “There are simple tips to beat sexist mechanics”. I researched some these tips that could help prevent women from getting ripped off in auto shops. “Look for things like certified technicians, a clean and professional facility, friendly service consultants who are able to explain what is being done to your vehicle and why you need that service” (Miller, 2018). I also found useful information from nextavenue.org, first, be a savvy consumer. This means do not be afraid to negotiate. Next is to know your car – read your owner’s manual! The manual usually includes a maintenance schedule so when a mechanic suggests or pushes a repair you will know if it is actually the correct time to do that maintenance or NOT. It is important to avoid sounding like you don’t know a single thing about your own vehicle. Keep up with regular maintenance, oil changes, tire rotations and refill fluids. The condition of your car can tip off your mechanic on your knowledge of your own vehicle. You should ask questions. Get several price quotes and let the mechanic know you are getting multiple price quotes. Put them on the spot, let them know that you have done your homework. Lastly, research a quality shop with good reviews. The best way to find a mechanic is via referral from someone who has had their car repaired by them, they trust them and would recommend them.
“Nowadays, women are likely to be the main consumers of auto repair services. Women represent 50 percent of the repair market for automotive service shops, so it’s likely that the individual who takes primary responsibility for vehicle maintenance is female” (Miller, 2018). As women if we do our due diligence when it comes to our vehicles and its repairs, having to say “one second… let me call my dad” the second you speak with a mechanic will be a thing of the past!
Daily Mail. (2013, July 20). How to beat the sexist mechanics: Simple tips for women to avoid being ripped off at the garage. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2370998/How-beat-sexist-mechanics-Simple-tips-women-avoid-ripped-garage.html
Do women get ripped off at auto repair shops? (2007, December 10). Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://ratemyrepairshop.wordpress.com/2007/12/09/do-women-get-ripped-off-at-auto-repair-shops/
How to stop women from getting ripped off by auto shops. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.aceable.com/blog/women-ripped-off-auto-shops/
Leamey, T. (2020, March 23). Women’s guide to navigating auto repair prices. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.thesimpledollar.com/financial-wellness/womens-guide-to-auto-repair-prices/
Massey, R. (2017, January 04). One in three women drivers say they have been ripped off by ‘SEXIST’ car mechanics. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4089484/One-three-women-drivers-say-ripped-sexist-car-mechanics-repairs-vehicle.html
Miller, D. (2018, August 21). How women can avoid car repair ripoffs. (Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.nextavenue.org/women-car-repair-ripoffs/