Survey: Women charged more than men by car mechanics

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Nina Pineda has the latest

A new survey finds when it comes to car repair prices, women are getting taken for a ride. And if you are woman driving a luxury car, you're getting gouged the worst. Add living in a big city, and it's like a triple whammy. But there are ways to level the playing field and save big bucks.

"This is not gender specific," mechanic Audra Fording said. "It's about you knowing what you're talking about."

Fordin is a fourth generation mechanic and currently owns the Great Bear Auto Repair shop in Flushing. She says women more than men need a clue about their car, and she even teaches workshops.

Her first tip in avoiding automotive gender discrimination is to learn about your car.
"Before you even pick up the phone to find out any repair, get to know your car," she said. "That means what's my car's year, make, model, engine size? It matters."

Fordin says women who don't become prime targets to get over charged.

Price comparing like you would shopping for shoes doesn't quite work for car repairs. Audra's advice? Don't call shop to get repair quotes. Bring the car in to get diagnosed first.

"If you think about the car like a human body, you just can't diagnose over the telephone what wrong," Fordin said.

Also, try to develop a relationship with a repair shop first.

"Go in for you an oil change before going in for something big," Fordin said. "It's like dating someone."

If you like how you're treated, you'll keep going back. But Audra reminds customers to always ask a lot of questions, insist on seeing the broken part that needs to be replaced, and ask what type of parts will be used to fix it -- new, used, or after-market.
Only then you can accurately price compare the repair and get a fair price no matter what your gender.

And just like a bad date, if you think you're being treated unfairly or getting gouged, drive away.

"Everybody has choices," Fordin said. "If you drive in, you can drive out. It's that simple."

Some other big takeaways include checking credentials when looking for a mechanic, and ask about certification by the AAA or the ASE, The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Know your car's maintenance schedule, when you should change the oil or rotate the tires. It's in your owner's manual and will help you avoid paying for repairs you don't need.

Finally, visit some online repair sites like RepairPal.com that give you a price range of fixes, so you'll know the ballpark charges.
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