September 10, 2014

The "Female Car Tax"....How to Avoid Paying this Common Ripoff!

Let's be frank here, I know nothing about cars.  If somebody asked me what a camshaft was, I'd probably answer by telling them it related to the porn industry somehow.  Some weird type of sex toy.  Anyway…I digress, and although my automobile knowledge is limited just like the typical woman in her 30's,  I make an effort to prove that limited knowledge doesn't mean, "Hey Mechanic Please Rip Me off!"  The truth of the matter is that cars require servicing.  Period…..end of story.  If you drive a vehicle on a daily basis, you're going to have to maintain it.  And trust me when I say, if you don't take care of it, it's going to breakdown on you.  And that is going to cost you a lot of money.  So here are some basic tips and tricks for you ladies to help make sure that chariot of fire to work and back not only lasts for a long time, but doesn't result in a money pit.

Let's start with the traditional and most common maintenance method for you female car owners out there.   And that's your typical "when something goes wrong, bring it to your dealership or local mechanic."  Now I'm not saying this is completely wrong, and to tell you the truth, if you're constantly short on time, or hate using tools, I'd suggest to go this route.  However, there are some things you should consider before dropping that vehicle off at the shop.  

Number one rule in saving some cheddar is this….. Don't take it to the dealership!  Unless your car is still within warranty, the dealership is going to suck the money out of your wallet.  They will charge you triple for the same thing a local mechanic can do.  Now granted that local mechanic might also try to swindle you ladies out there so do some research, or ask around for a reputable mechanic that people trust.   In many cases a mechanic or sevice-person will gauge whether a woman has any understanding of their automobile components during the inspection.  In many cases the woman's knowledge of her own car is limited. Picking up on this lack of knowledge a mechanic feels he has carte-blache in pressuring you into costly services your car doesn't require. And usually the sales pressure comes at the worst time when you are most vulnerable. Without the energy to fight the swindler you agree to have a very expensive maintenance bill. Unfortunately for you girls out there it happens all the time. Being a car expert, My husband has given me some awesome tactics to not only prevent these shady mechanics from getting in your pockets, but also find the best deals on parts and labor, the two critical variables on keeping that car maintained.  

Now times have changed since your father's old 1988 Ford Taurus….. A good majority of new leased or purchased late-model cars come with free maintenance up to a specific mileage or time frame.  It's usually 50k miles or 4 years, depending on the manufacturer. These new car purchase incentives    Will ensure an optimal running vehicle. Scary enough as it is, a lot of you females think that a new car will last forever without any intervention.  While this can be true, these newer cars generally last longer between inspections. I can't stress enough that during your free maintenance period, please take advantage of these incredible offers.  It will only lengthen the lifespan of your car.  
If you're driving an older, high mileage car, maintenance generally will become more frequent.  If you're one of those lucky individuals with a "bullet-proof" 1997 Honda, you might not agree, but after 100k miles, a car will require more attention.  Most of these services will have to be done by a professional.  But surprisingly enough, many people don't know how easy it is to perform some of these services yourself, even for a woman with little car knowledge.  

Below are some basic tips on keeping that car going strong throughout the years!  And this doesn't necessarily have to do with higher mileage cars.  Performing many of these basic services will ensure the longevity of your late model automobile. 

I've also included links to an awesome show called "All Girls Garage."  This show on the Velocity Channel shows a team of women demonstrating a "How-To" segment on maintaining your own vehicle.  While some of these projects are seriously complicated and should not be engaged without a professional, others can easily be done (like brake pad replacment) with a little effort and a couple hours on Saturday afternoonon.

Easy Car Maintenance Tips:

     Honestly I can't tell you how infrequent people change their engine oil.  It's true with the development of better technology as well as the increased performance of synthetic oils, most newer cars can go 7500 miles without an oil change.  But remember to still do it!  Take your car to a local, trusted mechanic.  He'll charge you $40 to replace that engine with new blood.  And you'll also get the added benefit of a trained-eye to spot any potential issues under the hood.  I know people will tell you the horror stories about Jiffy Lube and Pep Boys and what-not, but the truth of the matter is that, unless you're driving some crazy supped-up street racer, even a local lube shop can accommodate an oil change.  Just remember to keep all the records!

2.  Listen to the Brakes!
     Today's disc brakes tend to make that horrible squeal, even when properly functioning.  But if you're hearing that same squeal without the brake pedal depressed, than you need to replace your pads, and possibly your rotors.  If you want to save some coin, buy the pads and rotors from an online auto parts wholesaler.  Just call into the sales department, tell the call center agent your year and make / model, and they'll send you what you'll need.  Bring these parts to a trusted mechanic, and you'll save a boatload not paying full retail on those parts.   Finding a mechanic that will allow customer purchased parts can be difficult.  These shops generally make a good majority of their profit off the marked-up retail parts.  A good honest mechanic should accommodate a service only install. 

3.  Check the Fluids!
      There are also several fluids under the hood besides the engine oil.  Popping the hood of a car will show reservoirs for brake oil, steering fluid, engine coolant, and window washer fluid.  Every once in  awhile check them.  Most of the reservoirs have lines to indicate low and high levels. If you notice that one is running low, fill it back up.  Your local automotive shop will provide every detail on which type of fluid to buy for your car.  Buy whatever you need, take it home, fill it up!   Even simple tasks like this could save you an afternoon stranded on the side of the freeway with an overheated engine.   Engines get hot….. Coolant evaporates over time, and no coolant means an inoperable vehicle.  I can't stress this enough….. open the hood and check.  You don't even need to be a pro to figure most of this out!

4.  Tire Pressure!
      Easy enough…. Fill up your tires!  They lose pressure over time.  Every couple months or so, check the pressure per square inch at your local gas station, it's free!   Most cars need about 30 PSI to work properly.  Remember tires are the only part on a car that actually touches the ground.  They are quite important.  If they're greatly under-inflated, you'll notice serious loss in MPG as well as decreased performance.    In the event of an emergency, low tires could result in a collision.  Maintain them diligently!

5.  Find a Good Mechanic!
     This one can be difficult, specially for a women.  Generally mechanics try ripping-off females because of their lack of car knowledge. What I can recommend is calling all the mechanics in your neighborhood first.  Tell them your the wife of an auto mechanic who's on a vacation with his boys.   Ironically, just by saying this phrase, you'll get a rough estimate without the "female car tax" included.  I put this to the test while my husband was on vacation a couple months ago, and it worked flawlessly.  Resulting from my tenacious due dillagance by calling around, not only did I lower the cost of that specific repair, but also developed a great relationship with a honest local mechanic.  Consequently, this new relationship will guarantee my confidence when paying for future car maintenance services!  

In conclusion, I'd say there are really two main points for all you female readers out there who don't know what camshaft is.....  1.  Don't procrastinate with car maintenance!  It will only cost you more in the long-run.  Follow the recommended service intervals in the automobile handbook. 
2.  Find a local mechanic you can trust.  They will keep your car running optimally without the traditional "Female Car Maintemace Tax" built into the invoice!  And lastly, spread the word to your friends and family about this mechanic. They will not only appreciate the new business, but will generally lower the cost of your future repairs / services.  Word of mouth, Yelp, chat forums.... all these types of communication mediums work in getting a trusted mechanics name out to the public.  Everyone appreciates these recommendations, and honestly, an entire industry has been built off this concept. Remember kiddos... Pay it forward,  

-Alli Girl

 This is a shout out to Sang @ Sang Auto Repair in Redondo Beach.  If you live in the L.A. area check him out. 

Sang Auto Repair
4113 Redondo Beach Boulevard
Lawndale, CA 90260
Phone number(310) 214-1504

1 comment:

  1. Female Auto Expert Barbara Terry is one of the most sought-after auto experts and off road race car drivers in television, print and radio. She has appeared on the cover of Kiplinger's Magazine, has been featured in over 100 publications and has made more than 400 television and radio appearances since 2006


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