What to know when you take your car to the mechanic - FOX 13 News

What to know when you take your car to the mechanic

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

A lot of women have a very confused look on their faces when they look at auto parts. Yet, women are the decision makers when it comes to getting the car fixed. An average of 70 percent of cars are brought into auto shops by women, according to Road and Travel Magazine.

It's the reason Ashley Butler, the owner of Ice Cold Air in Tampa, decided to host a car clinic for women.

"So what we're gonna go over is how not to feel panicked, scared and desperate," she said as she vowed to help the women learn, "How to protect themselves from being taken advantage of."

It's something Lisa Rodriguez worries about when she's face-to-face with a mechanic.

"Because there's a lot of times I go in and they talk to me and it's like, oh Gosh, what?" she laughed.

Her 16-year-old daughter Tia just got her first car.

"If they don't show me, I have no idea where it is, engine could be in the back of the car for all I know," said Tia.

Trina White said she always acts like she knows what she's talking about.

"What I do is I pretend to know more than they do, so I have the mechanic face and have no idea what they're talking about," said Trina, "I knew absolutely nothing about the car, except to put gas in it."

It's bad enough that we don't know what the parts are, but it's even worse that we ignore the sounds that go on in the car. It can mean the difference between maintenance and repair.

"Because that's what takes a brake job from being a regular brake job, which is maybe $100 to $150, with parts and labor, to being a $300 brake repair," Ashley explained.

Jayne Coleman's fiancé wanted her to take this class so that she could figure out for herself what was wrong with her car.

"They explained that it was probably something that was inside my gas tank, that was maybe stuck and they did tell me that it could be fixed," she said, with a smile.

Trina took lots of notes during the class.

"So, I've learned about the rotor and the caliber and the brake pads and just all kinds of stuff to really amaze my male family and friends," she explained.

Learning their cars inside and out, means less out of pocket costs when they go back to the auto shop.

Here are some tips from Ashley to help you next time you have car troubles:

Tip #1: Understanding Fair Pricing.

The cost of repairs will vary from shop to shop because overhead and labor rates differ: Shop labor rates vary with the geographic area of the country and are competitive within a particular area. Labor rates typically run $80 to $150 per hour nationwide. Therefore if cost is the only important factor when choosing a repair shop, remember the national averages. Also be sure to look for an extended warranty to back up every new component you have replaced on your vehicle.

Tip #2: Know your options in part selection: OEM, After-market, Remanufactured or Used

Understanding labor rates are important, as well as knowing how to make decisions about the type of parts you want on your car. Yes, auto repair shops mark up the price of parts.

We have to make a profit to stay in business, so typically we will tack on about 30 percent. Keep in mind that this markup also means that reputable shops can provide a warranty or extended warranty for their repairs.

The type of parts used for auto repair directly affects the bottom-line price. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts tend to be the highest priced. OEM parts are built by the same company that built your vehicle.

Followed by after-market, these parts are built by companies who use templates to recreate the original part.

Used parts vary in price depending on the mileage and/or demand of the part. A used part can render an effective repair, depending on its condition. When and if you choose a used part, be clear that used parts are USED and the warranties are fickle.

If there is a new or after-market version of this part available to you, I would personally choose the part that is new or remanufactured.

What are remanufactured parts? These are parts that have moving or have electrical components inside of them that can be replaced or rebuilt. Saving the bulk of the part and repairing the failing portion, helps to keep the landfills empty and our customer's bank accounts full.

Tip #3: Know your objective for the vehicle.

Having a plan for the vehicle prior to authorizing on repairs helps the decision process substantially. If customers plan to keep their vehicle for an extended period of time (5+ years) keeping up with the maintenance schedule is extremely important. A well-maintained car is the same as a well-maintained body. When servicing your vehicle as the manufacturer mandates you are more likely to have the vehicle perform without major breakdowns for the long haul. Customers who choose to skip servicing their vehicles to save a few bucks are stepping over dollars to pick up dimes.

Tip #4: Take time to listen to your vehicle.

Pay attention to the service lamps that illuminate, if they remain lit during drive time. If a lamp is flashing, this is the vehicle's communication to you that it is experiencing a failure at that exact moment.

Tip #5: When in doubt, ask.

If you have questions about what happened while your vehicle was in for service, ask. Ask to see the parts. Ask for a detailed explanation of the repair or invoice. Ask questions until you feel comfortable and your choices make sense to you.

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