Being a female and dealing with automotive repair is no picnic. From experience, never say, "Let me call my husband." Expect a chuckle and raised eyebrow with that response. Maybe it’s my own insecurities, but believing someone that I initially don’t trust is difficult to digest.
I’ve had mechanics roll their eyes when asked to explain repairs. While leaning on a chipped formica counter, responses were often mumbled and vague. Waiting in the common area is another treat. It’s an addictive form of observation – watching other frustrated customers read expired magazines while the automotive guillotine awaits.
I’d rather walk out with dignity and the ability to make decisions involving automotive repair while keeping the checkbook balance intact. Like going to the dentist, it’s often an experience we’d rather not deal with, but ignoring the situation resolves nothing.
I’ve even had mechanics bellow, "Hey Sweetheart! Your car’s ready." Wonderful.
There’s an overwhelming feeling of vulnerability, of no control. Are you confident enough to refuse a part or repair or question the necessity of the job? Your decision will either be carelessly shrugged off or you will be guilted into paying for something equivalent to four new snow tires. Dining on frozen peas and Top Ramen for the next month is a strong possibility.
Years ago, we had a Dodge Ram truck. While it was at the dealership for routine maintenance, I found it sitting in a TGI Friday's parking lot. The mechanics decided to take it for a joyride and enjoy mozzarella sticks and buffalo wings. That experience, along with a few other unfortunate events, confirmed our doubts with dealership service.
Trial and error are the only ways to silence the uncertainty. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations, read the reviews, listen to Car Talk on NPR, et cetera. When you find a mechanic, listen to your gut. Does this person seem trustworthy? Are they patient with your questions? Is customer service a priority? How long have they been in business? What's the office staff like? Do they have reasonable rates?
A neighbor recommended Phil’s Automotive, an independent mechanic in Windsor Locks. Recently, our "Check Engine" light was refusing to disappear. Before a road trip, I took it in for diagnosis. The codes showed the catalytic converter and transmission needed attention. Our mechanic, Tony, reset the codes and did a few more independent tests. When he called, he mentioned he "didn’t want to install something we didn’t need."
Turns out everything was fine. Both the catalytic converter and transmission didn’t need to be replaced. Tony could have easily persuaded me to drop a sizable amount of cash on unnecessary parts and labor, but he didn’t. Phil’s Automotive nourishes trust, while patiently educating their customers.
For some, the dealership is the preferred choice for automotive care. But for me, Tony at Phil’s Automotive will forever be my mechanic of choice. He won’t install anything unnecessary or take my car for a joyride to TGI Friday’s.