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Dear Diana,                                  5/22/19

I am going to imagine my concern may sound a little paranoid, so please bear with me.  I am a single woman in my 40’s and drive a 12 year old car. Like most everyone, I’m sure, my car has its own set of noises and clunks.  Each time I hear a new one, it sends me into a panic.  I never know if I should worry about the noises or if they are just part of an aging car.  A mechanic, I am not.  I don’t have anyone in my life who can help me out when my car acts up.  

Ultimately, I end up taking the car in for servicing, but always fear I am being taken advantage of.  Sometimes I think I am being too hard on the service stations, and sometimes I am just not sure.  I have no doubt that I come across as clueless as I actually am when it comes to cars.  I am looking for your thoughts on how to reduce my stress level over all this. 

Any recommendations?

Melissa

 
 

Dear Melissa,

Car concerns are very real!  Anyone with a car, or multiple cars in many cases understands your woes.  There are over 7.4 million vehicles registered in the state of Minnesota.  This translates to lots of car related worries and headaches.  So, you are definitely not alone.  Suffice it to say that anything mechanical is going to eventually wear out, require attention, maintenance, repairs and replacements, all of which come at a cost.  There is no way around this.

Trusting the service station when you need to bring your car in to be fair with you is totally reasonable.  Getting yourself to a place where you can feel that trust seems like your goal.  My best advice to you is to do any or all of these things to help reinforce your confidence in an auto mechanic or service station, hopefully, near by where you live or work.
  1. Seek recommendations from friends, family members, even co-workers or neighbors whose suggestions you would have faith in
  2. Take these recommendations a step further and check them out online yourself.  You should be easily be able to find reviews on most all local auto mechanics.  Check specifically for current and recent information, as this will be the clearest reflection of their service performance today.
  3. When you call the service station be friendly and hopefully, they will be friendly back.  If you get a good sense from them that they are knowledgeable and happy to help you, give them a chance to prove themselves to you. Most auto mechanics know very well that repeat business is significant to their reputation, as well as to their revenue.  They will likely want to satisfy and please you because they know that sooner or later, you will need them again.
  4. Educate yourself as much as you can.  I find that knowledge is often empowering.  At the risk of encouraging Googling, sometimes it can prove to be useful.  For example, you can try to Google your car’s symptoms and see what kinds of results you get.  Then you can Google the results to try to discover approximate costs for the fixes. This won’t give you be all and end all information, but it could help give you a starting point for comparison sake when the mechanic provides you with their estimates.
  5. In the spirit of education, ask questions to the mechanic or to the service department where you are considering leaving your car, or where you might have already left your car. Ask them to explain things to you to help you understand what is wrong with your car and how their recommendation will solve what is wrong.  All a part of your educational process! The more you know, often the more confidence you will have when you make these decisions.
  6. Let a new mechanic you are trying, or even one you are currently working with know that you are interested in establishing a relationship with them as long as they can take good care of your car and good care of you.  Challenge them with those missions.  It should be their mission anyway.
    Most times, by just being verbally tasked with that, they will make a point to go above and beyond to do just that for you.

    I think there is a good chance you will begin to feel better each time you allow a service station to prove their worthiness to you.  If they fix your car issues, stand by their work, and are fair with your pricing, try them again when the need arises.  Go through the cycle as many times as you need to feel comfortable.  I am going to bet that you can conquer your stresses over this by following some of the steps outlined above.  I hope they help you.

    Thanks for writing!

    Diana


Readers:  Tell us what YOU think!  Many women (any men!) are faced with conquering similar stresses over trusting an auto mechanic.  Maybe something you can suggest can be helpful, as well.  Please use the comment section below to share your thoughts.

 
Does anybody trust their auto mechanic?