Be a Smarter Vehicle Owner
Helpful tips for those that seem to always get taken advantage of by mechanics. Vehicles are a necessary evil in our society. You have to have one to go to work and you need to work just to pay for the cost of a vehicle. What's more frustrating about vehicles is that when they break down, you are vulnerable to mechanics that like to take advantage of your wallet. Being female and not married, I go in to repair shops by myself and I can't help but feel like prey to some mechanics. The best example of this was this last fall, when I, unfortunately, fell victim to a dealership that has cost me almost triple the amount of a car than I expected to pay. The dealership, let's just call them, Slongmont Scourtesy Smazda, put me through an hellish & uncanny experience that inspired me to share what I learned so others don't get taken advantage of as well.
When I bought my vehicle from them I thought they were pretty creditable, they gave me a 3-month warranty with my vehicle and a 2 year service contract. Both of which were useless. Their mechanics didn't care or touch my vehicle at all. I took it in for an oil service (under my service contract) and the mechanics at this dealership literally just brushed me out the door, didn't listen to my concerns, didn't touch my vehicle. They just pushed me out of the door as fast as they could. A week later, while on I25 at 70 mph, the oil from vehicle, sprays out of my car, emptying in seconds and completely totaling my engine. I took my vehicle back to the dealership, (I just bought this car, just took it in to be looked at and my oil is not just leaking but spraying out of my vehicle) and they couldn't careless about what happened. In fact, I've never felt a more sexist attitude from a mechanic than from this dealership. They wouldn't speak to me about my vehicle, they wouldn't work with me to help me get it fixed until I had a more intimidating male call in and speak with them. It took a male for them to even take me serious about any of this situation. So this sparked me to share the warning signs of being taken advantage of by mechanics.
1) When buying a car, if you want to get the service contract or they offer if, inquire more about their service department. If you aren't leasing a car, the mechanics are not inclined to take care of your car at all. They aren't getting this vehicle back so make sure the mechanics won't be careless about doing a good job on it, just like at Slongmont Scourtesy SMazda, with my vehicle. If you buy a vehicle, it's probably better to take it somewhere else and not waste this money on a service contract.
2) Do research on the vehicle you are wanting to purchase. If you find a car that you love, walk away. Don't buy it your first visit at the dealership. Get the vin# and do research on that particular vehicle. Do a vin check, google any recent recalls on the vehicle, and search for any lawsuits on the vehicle make & model. Especially if it's a used vehicle, look for any problems that could come up after you drive it off the lot. Also, take it to another mechanic to look it over. They will spot anything that the dealership won't tell you about. Test drive it again when another mechanic shop is open and drive it in there for a look over. Dealerships should be ok with this, but if they aren't, don't buy that vehicle.
3) Know what a repair shop should be doing when you take your vehicle in. It shouldn't matter at all to the mechanic if you are female or male. If you are at a good repair shop they will be willing to take you in the back, or in the garage, to show you exactly what was wrong, how they need to fix it, and they should be willing to explain things to you. Slongmont Scourtesy SMazda couldn't even explain things to me, the only answer I received when speaking to them was "Ok..." They didn't know what they were doing and it showed. If the shop knows what they are doing it will be obvious and they will be able to show you that too.
4) The shop, and the mechanics, will be in constant communication. It took multiple calls and emails to get one response from Slongmont Scourtesy SMazda (who weren't busy at any point), a major sign they won't value you as a customer. Repair shops get extremely busy (a good sign), but creditable ones, will try to be in some form of communication with you via phone, text, or email. The repair shop I ended up taking my vehicle too was constantly busy but they made sure that I knew I wasn't forgotten. They'd email me just to say they got my email or phone call. They also made sure that I knew exactly what they were doing, e.g. looking up a part, trying to start it, trying to get it stay idle, etc. No matter what, I knew the process of my vehicle repair. They even went as far as giving me the cell phone number for the mechanic working on my car so he could answer any questions I had.
5) Last but not lease, probably my #1 mistake, I bought from a dealership I didn't know. I made this purchase because of the car, not the dealership. I wanted a particular car and once I found it, I bought it. If I could go back and do it again, I would do the opposite. I would find a creditable dealership first, and look for a car second, and I would go to a dealership that this station works with. Why do we work with the dealerships we do? Because they are creditable and good dealerships, no matter what kind of vehicle you are looking for. I bought my previous vehicle from one of the dealerships we work with and had a great experience. I work with all these dealerships as a non-customer as well and have great experiences. I haven't ever felt I was discredited or taken advantage of as a female like I recently experienced.
One good thing that came out of my nightmare of car purchasing, was that I found out there were good repair shops out there and the knowledge to know the aspects of a good shop or mechanic. Just like Addison Auto that were in constant communication, took me back in the garage to show me everything that they did, and even did research on their own to figure out exactly what we needed to do to fix my car. I never felt discredited or looked down upon just because I was female either. It didn't take a male speaking to them either to take me seriously. You just have to know a little more to separate the good from the awful mechanics and dealerships, and hopefully we are helping you to do just that.