Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mechanics Can Be Real Tools

One of the most frustrating things about being a woman is taking your car to the mechanic.

Mechanics are generally male and they assume that females don’t know anything about cars.

Truthfully, most women don’t.

I know more than most women that I know.  I can change a tire, check/add oil, fill most fluids and locate many parts.  This is thanks to my mom who paid attention to her dad.  My grandpa always worked on cars, mostly for fun.  She liked to help him.

When I was young and spent time with him, he let me help too.  He taught me to change a tire when I was 12.

I have found that when I take my car to a mechanic, they treat me like a clueless twit. 
My mom has the same experience. 

When I take my car, or anything else needing fixing, to the shop, I usually do not know what is causing the problem.  I tell them what is happening and ask them to check it out for me. 

I don’t think I sound wishy-washy or utterly baffled.  Yet, they always seem to come up with some strange answers.  Or they tell me they fixed it and did not.

One example was about 6 years ago.

When I got my car 7 years ago, my parents gave me remote start for Christmas.  A year later, it started acting up, so I took it in.  What happened was that I turned the car off and it wouldn’t start again.  I had to have it towed to the shop.  They claimed to have fixed it.  I had been out of a car for a few days, so I was relieved that they fixed it so easily.  I picked it up, drove home, stopped at the office to pay my rent and when I got back in the car to drive to the parking garage, it wouldn’t start. 

I was so angry.  I had to have it towed again.  They tried giving me some crap.  My step-dad had picked me up and taken me to the shop.  They thought he was going to do the talking at this point, but I was so angry, I went off on them and challenged them on every excuse they gave me.  They gave me a loaner to try to calm me down.

It seems that the only way to get mechanics to treat a woman with respect and the same honesty they use with a man is to get angry.  Anything less is construed as weakness, which equals a target.

My mom had to take her car to get new brakes this week.  They called to tell her what needed to be done and how much it was.  Then they called her to ask her if she has been using the parking brake too much.  She laughed and said she never uses it.  He said, oh, well that’s the problem.

Ok, first you tell me it’s worn because it’s used too much, now you’re telling me it’s worn because it’s not used? 

Then he says, he may as well do it since they are already in there.  He tells her it will be an additional $400, but they don’t have the part so it would be a few days. 

Wait, you just said you could do it since you will be “in there” anyway, but you don’t have the part?  So you wouldn’t be in there anyway.  You’d be done with the brakes.

No thanks, just fix the brakes like I originally asked. 

I find even places like Jiffy Lube try to “scare” you into thinking something could go terribly wrong if you don’t do what is recommended on the vehicle diagnostic screen.  Some really don’t care, they are just going through the motions, but others are higher pressure.  It’s annoying.

No, I don’t want to have my fuel line cleaned.  Just change my oil.  I understand it will make my fuel efficiency better, but just change my oil.  No, I don’t want to spend another $60, just changing my oil.  No, I don’t care that it will only take another 30 minutes, just change my damn oil!

I suppose I could remedy this by going to the local community college and learning to change my own oil, replace my own brakes and tune my own engine (that sounds dirty),  but that is not likely to happen.

Frankly, it shouldn’t HAVE to happen in order to get trustworthy and honest service.

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