Have you ever gone to the grocery store and noticed the price you thought you were going to pay is not what rang up on the register? Or been overcharged at a restaurant at one time or another? Whether something got added to your bill or the price was higher than was advertised, either way, we would like to think that this was just an oversight. The same thing happens with auto repair. You might find a charge that was not what you agreed to. Maybe the mechanic found some other problems with your car while working on it. Or that too-good-to-be-true price on tires was exactly that… too good to be true! No matter what the reason, we’ve all been misled at one time or another.
Usually, an overcharge is an honest mistake. Perhaps the mechanic just got back from his honeymoon and his head was still in the clouds and not in your engine. Maybe the sales person didn’t communicate to the service manager that you had a snazzy Women Auto Know VIP card and get a special discount. When you get your bill and realize that it is not what you had been promised, what do you do?
Do you give them the benefit of the doubt? In most cases, that is the lady-like thing to do. But when it comes to your car, don’t sacrifice safety to save face! Let’s say you drop your car off at the garage to have the oil changed, belts replaced and filters checked. But the garage is busy or the mechanic working on your car is a new hire. As a result, the work doesn’t get done right. Without knowing, you smile pretty, pay your bill and thank them for maintaining your car. But as you drive off, humming happily to your favorite jam, you hear a loud squeak coming from your engine and puffs of smoke start billowing out from under your hood!
Now a couple things are happening here. First, you begin to doubt the oil was changed and the belts were replaced. Second, you seriously guess the workmanship of the shop. And third, you drown out the best part of your favorite tune with four letter curse words! But the most damaging thing that has just occurred is that you’ve lost confidence!
Our mission at Women Auto Know is to educate and empower you to be a savvy and safe driver, passenger and consumer. Here are a few things you can do to prevent mishaps from happening and to prevent yourself from feeling fooled with auto repairs:
- Tape your service requests to your steering wheel – sounds kind of simple, but this is one sure fire way to guarantee the mechanic working on your car addresses all of your service requests, regardless of what the salesperson orders.
- Play a game of show and tell – ask to see the parts that have been replaced and ask to be shown what work was done on your car. Mechanics are usually more than happy to review the work they did and show you the damage and wear on your old parts. This is a simple way to guarantee that you are getting all the work done that you requested, that you needed, and not any more. And, this is a fantastic way to get a quick automotive education.
- Review the invoice – just like at the restaurant, go over each line on your bill with the salesperson to be sure that you are paying what you have been quoted. If there is a change in price, have the salesperson explain why. You usually have to sign a work order before the service is done and then again after. If you are unhappy with the price, don’t sign.
- Get initials – if a salesperson offers you a special deal that is not clearly advertised, have them initial the work order or sign it, verifying that they have the authority to offer you that price because they may not be available when you go to pay for the job.
Be proactive in your auto repair and you can avoid being fooled. Be assertive, ask questions, take the Women Auto Know pledge, and if you are happy with the price and work, be an advocate for your shop. Then you can smile and thank them for a job well done!
Check out all our other tips to keep you safe on the road and in the shop at WomenAutoKnow.com!