Adding new fuel to my low opinion of many auto repair shops, this lovely news showed up today:

Michigan Car Repair Shop Owner Says He Will Turn Away Openly Gay Customers … And That’s Legal

It almost makes me want to make the headline

Brooklyn Car Repair Shop Owner Says She Will Only Service Openly Gay Customers.

But of course that’s just as ridiculous.

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Here’s an email I got from a woman who knows she got the proverbial shaft but persisted and ended up with a good outcome!  Let her be an inspiration!
Good afternoon,
I saw your blog post about the treatment of women in repair shops. I would like to offer my story about my RV experience. I am married but my husband is military and the non custodial parent of the RV.
I purchased a an RV in July 2014. I drove it away from the dealer with 703 miles on the odometer. After my first and only major adventure, I called the dealer and said the steering wheel is off center considerably and it is awkward to drive like that. The dealers service response “well you didn’t tell us about it during the sales inspection so there’s nothing we can do” so I kindly responded “I did not get the chance to drive it until after the inspection.” The dealer service then informed me that I must have a hit a pot hole or bump and knocked it out of alignment, I needed to have it aligned, they don’t do that, bye now. It took multiple phone calls to find a garage able to perform the service. In November 2014 with approximately 1,975 miles on the RV, I took it to a heavy duty garage to correct the steering wheel being off center and and had an alignment done. I then parked the RV in the storage lot for the winter.
After reading the reviews and positive impressions of a particular Steering Stabilizer, I decided to have one installed. I ordered the part over-the-phone on March 16 to be installed on March 31. I was told that it would increase the handling of the RV and make the driving a little less loose. After they installed it, I drove away and immediately noticed it was pulling A LOT to the left and the steering wheel was off center AGAIN. I take it back and ask for an adjustment, the tech says he can adjust again but he already did it once and the RV must be out of alignment. I kindly explained that there was just an alignment done 50 miles ago and when I initially handed him the keys the steering wheel was straight, the only modification in this scenario was him and the installation of the stabilizer. As I’m waiting for him to look at it, I spoke to the garage that did the alignment and the technicians at the stabilizer manufacturer, both indicated it sounded like something in the stabilizer needed adjustment and it takes patience. The technician proceeded to tell me that he was not going to keep adjusting the stabilizer just because I thought something he did was wrong and that if the garage did not guarantee their alignment work then it was not his fault. He seemed to imply that I, a woman, could not possibly know if it was installed correctly. In the middle of the store, I am having a heated discussion with the technician who refused to continue to make the adjustments necessary to the installation of the product. I turned around mid sentence and left.
A few days later I spoke with customer service of the stabilizer manufacturer and she indicated that it sounded as though the technician did not have the patience to correctly install it. She suggested an authorized dealer install it, I brought it to one and  I explained that I recently had another shop install it and that the steering wheel was off center now and pulling slightly. The mechanic test drove the RV, removed and reinstalled it, test drove it again, made a few adjustments, test drove, and returned the RV to me with a straight wheel, no pulling and no need for an alignment. The mechanic was much nicer, recognized the problem immediately and corrected it.
I hate not having a repair shop I could trust for the coach and the chassis. There has not been an experience yet where I feel that I was treated the same as a man who came in with the same problem would be treated. I complained to the head office of the original shop, they half-heartedly apologized and offered a minuscule refund of the installation fee. I explained that as a direct result of his lazy technician, I had to miss a day of work, drive over 200 miles, and pay another garage to correct their mistake.
Sorry for the long email but I appreciate knowing that I’m not crazy in the way I am treated.
Thank you,
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After this crazy winter, there is an abundance of pot holes out there. Here in NYC it’s particularly bad but I’m going to guess that’s true in many locales. Last night while driving through Manhattan I noticed that cars are not rushing to get through those yellow lights like they normally do and that’s smart. I’m going to consider this post as just a public service reminder…DRIVE SLOW!

In the past couple of weeks we have changed numerous struts, strut mounts, axle shafts, tie rods, etc. I know it’s difficult to avoid some of these, I’ve rammed though many myself. Sometimes you don’t even notice them until you’re right on top of them, but this type of work can be quite costly so let me repeat….DRIVE SLOW!

yellow light

Honestly, I think I’m just writing this to myself, my son is constantly telling me to, “Slow down, Jeff Gordon!”. So if you’d like to fork over some of your funds to me and my fellow repair shop owners then go for it but otherwise….DRIVE SLOW!


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Snowed In

It’s winter, it’s cold and there are mounds of snow on the ground. I’m sitting here in my office (which btw, is cold, in this business we’re not like normal people with nice warm offices) and I’m listening to one of my suppliers talking to my partner.  They’re discussing how slow it is because in NYC people don’t really need to move their cars when alternate side street parking has been suspended due to the snow on the ground.  This particular vendor is telling him how certain shops are not as “slow” because almost every vehicle that comes in for a small problem are being sold many parts that they don’t need.  Of course I find this surprising and shocking….HA! NOT IN THE LEAST!


Let me just keep this warning simple, if you go to a repair shop and are being told that you need an alternator, battery AND a starter, chances are you’re being taken. Will I say that this never happens, no, it can happen but it’s very rare. If that happens then do your due diligence, have them show you each item and have them explain how it’s failing. Of course an experienced BS’er will have an answer for everything, but the more you ask and the more knowledgeable you are the less you will be taken for a ride.

This works in every aspect of your life, be nice, be calm, but be very inquisitive and don’t be satisfied until it’s explained to your liking.


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Really Fair

I’m a little outraged this morning by an email I just got. A consumer website that assists in auto repair was concerned that women were being unfairly treated in the business (duh). So they claim to have done a phone survey to see if the prices they got over the phone were gender biased. The brilliant deduction was that the shops they recommend (more on that in a minute) were NOT prejudiced against women but other shops were alarmingly so.


First off, give me a break…a phone survey?…I don’t even give prices out on the phone because it’s useless since most customers have no idea what they need.

Secondly, the problem isn’t in getting a price over the phone, the problem is in being ripped off, on many levels, during the entire experience.

Thirdly, how absolutely incredible that the shops they “certify” were so fair. Let’s discuss this certification. Can you afford to pay them their fee, claim to charge fair prices, been in business over 6 months, and offer a warranty? DONE,  You’re in! This is no more than the Department of Motor Vehicles and Consumer Affairs demands in most states (except the fee part) so, pretty much any shop can be certified. I get that this website is just a business and it’s trying to make money, but it really gets the hair up on the back of my neck when they try to trade off fairness to women and don’t tell the whole truth.

Women are absolutely NOT treated fairly in this industry and I won’t sit by and listen to how they are.

How does anything ever change when nothing ever changes?



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Appraised of.

A customer’s car was hit by a vehicle. She did the right thing by calling in the claim, but one  thing she did wrong was NOT to have the appraiser come here to my garage to have it appraised. Instead, she took it to one of their drive-in quickie appraisal shops. BIG MISTAKE. Later, she arrived here with the estimate in hand. When I perused it I couldn’t believe how small an amount it was written up for. I told her before we do anything she better call the insurance company and tell them she wanted it reappraised, or at the very least they should call me. This morning the actual appraiser himself called me. I told him there were numerous things missing from the appraisal and boy was I surprised when he was honest with me, uttering the words, “yeah I know, my boss likes me to write it up like that”. HUH? Your boss likes to write it up for way less then it should be to save money so it will cost the customer money out of her own pocket?


Usually the insurance companies are spot on with the assessments, even generous in some cases. I believe that’s because we are basically watching over them.  Hopefully this isn’t a new trend and won’t be happening all the time, but make sure it doesn’t happen to you. Take your car to the mechanic/auto body shop you trust and have the appraiser go THERE. This is no different then anything else that needs an expert to oversee it. Don’t get shorted (or wrenched)!


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How’s This For Fair?

While at her weekend home, a friend noticed both headlights went out on her vehicle and called me as she was at a local repair shop. They weren’t finding the problem right away and she was just calling to tell me what was happening. While we were on the phone I Googgled her problem and in 20 seconds found which fuse was out, which she then relayed on to the mechanic. She asked me how much I thought she should pay and I said “$1 for the fuse and tip the mechanic, is what I would charge”.


10 minutes later she called and said “How’s $75 sound?”. Since she is no shrinking violet she told them it was despicable to which he tried to claim that he had worked on the vehicle for ½ hour. Luckily she embarrassed him into agreeing that, “$1 for the fuse and tip the mechanic” was the way to go and she left. Of course she’ll never go back there again, so it’s stupid on his part but my biggest issue is that I bet if she were a man it wouldn’t have gone down like that. Makes me embarrassed yet again for my industry.


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