A New Beginning

As some of you know I have closed my business, ZP Auto, Inc. There is a great article on Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York about it. I am going to be switching this blog up a bit to be more inclusive of other service industries because lets face it, we’re getting screwed over everywhere we go. Have you called a plumber, electrician or even bought anything new that lasts more than 2 years? It’s a nightmare out there and I ask you to send me stories about what is happening to you and lets see if we can come up with any viable strategies to get through the process.

I will start with my own recent situation of the non draining dishwasher I purchased only 1 year and 3 months ago. I didn’t even install it for a few months so it should be still under warranty, ha!


After calling the manufacturer, I unbelievably was able to secure what is called a concession. This means that they are not really warranting the item, they are merely allowing through their kind heartedness, the ability for me to get this job done mostly for free. Now concessions are meted out by item, so there is a parts concession and a labor concession. These can be given out on an individual basis so make sure you ask for both. The downside to concessions is that the repair company can charge you for a visit so make sure that doesn’t happen either.

Just getting through to the repair company that the manufacturer refers you to can be time consuming. After numerous unsuccessful tries I finally called the manufacturer back and requested they get them on the line and conference us to figure out when they were coming (somehow they never answered the phone for me but did so right away for them). Before they arrive, if you can, try to make sure that there isn’t any detritus stuck where it shouldn’t be, this can cause your concession to go bye bye (take that drain cover off and clean out the inside of the well). One last piece of advice and this is a weird one, make sure your home is not too dirty. My conversation with the repairman led us to the topic of how some people’s homes are so filthy that they will automatically reject concessions (of course they don’t openly admit this) because they can use the excuse that the owner’s negligence caused the issue.

As with all my advice, be nice but be firm, get them on your side. Losing it almost never helps (I say almost because sometimes you can’t help it and it somehow just works).

I’m in the first phase of this process which means someone showed up and diagnosed the issue and I am now waiting 2 weeks for parts. I shouldn’t complain because at least we’re on the right track so far.

Please let me know of your stories and hopefully we can all work through this together.




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Mechanic Advisor Survey

Love this survey by Mechanic Advisor.  Now if we could just get mechanic shops to read it and change their shoddy ways.

A MechanicAdvisor.com survey analyzed over 900 visitor responses to determine customer behavior in relation to finding, using, and trusting automotive mechanic shops and the motivations for their choices.

BOSTON, MA (April 2014) – Nearly two-thirds of women searching for a mechanic say that reputation is the most important factor when making a decision on where to service their vehicle. In a survey conducted byMechanicAdvisor.com, a leading mechanic search engine, 62.1% of women named “reputation” as the most important thing they look for when choosing a mechanic.

Reputation was also the most important overall factor given by both men and women, with over 54% indicating it was the most important in their decision making process, followed by price (30.7%), communication (6%), speed of service (6%), cleanliness (2%), and honesty (0.7%).

However, when looking deeper into the data, there were some interesting results. 75% of people between the ages of 18-24 indicated “price” as the most important factor when choosing a mechanic, which was in stark contrast to people above the age of 65, of whom only 12.5% indicated “price” as the most important factor.

woman and mechanic


When it comes to trust, a common concern among prospective automotive repair customers, price was the most compelling factor. When asked “What is most likely to cause you to distrust a mechanic?” 40.7% of respondents indicated “higher than usual prices” as the leading factor. 22.7% of respondents named “negative online reviews” Among those above the age of 65, 35.7% said “negative online reviews” were the leading factor.

“Poor communication skills” and “Unclean shop and service area” tied for third place with 16.7% and 16% of respondents naming them as the most likely cause of distrust, respectively. And a “lack of an online presence” was named by 3.3% of respondents.

Finding a Mechanic

Unsurprisingly, the highest percentage of respondents found their last mechanic online, with over 32% indicating “online search” as the method they used to find their last mechanic. 50% of people between the ages of 35 and 44 found their mechanic through an online search.  A “referral from someone” was a close second with 30% answering as such, followed by “I drove by their shop and noticed it” (21.3%) and “print advertising” (12.6%) and “radio advertising” (3.3%) picking up the rest.

Frequency of Repair

Despite rapid advances in automotive technology, car owners still make frequent visits to mechanics for repairs. 70% of respondents say that they repair their car “2 or more times per year,” with slightly more than a quarter of respondents (28%) getting away with only “1 time per year.”

Interestingly enough, 17.3% of respondents answered “5 or more times per year” when asked for the frequency of repairs, although it’s unclear if this is a result of unreliable vehicles or poor preventative maintenance.

Types of Shops

When asked “What type of mechanic shop do you tend to trust most?” nearly half of respondents (46.7%) answered “Family-owned shops.” “Small one-owner shops” was a relatively close second with 30.7% of respondents. “Mobile (traveling) mechanics” got a 10% response with “Multi-shop chains” and “Nationwide corporate chains” garnering 6% and 4% respectively.

Most Influential

When asked “Which of the following would be most influential to you when deciding where to repair your vehicle?” the top overall results were “Recommendation from family/friend” (26%) and “Online shop reviews” (24%).

“Low price” (22.7%) and “Convenience of location”(18.7%) were followed by “Gut instinct” (5.3%) as the other most influential factors.

When looking deeper into the data, it’s revealed that 33% of women indicated “Online shop reviews” as their most influential criteria, and out of people aged 18-24, 42.9% responded with “Online shop reviews.”


MechanicAdvisor.com analyzed data from a several month-long survey from over 900 visitor responses in order to determine customer behavior in relation to finding, using, and trusting automotive mechanic shops and the motivations for their choices.

About MechanicAdvisor.com

MechanicAdvisor.com is the largest online mechanic database in the US. Founded in 2006, it has grown into a premier website for consumers to research and connect with reputable local mechanics for routine and specialty automotive repair. The MechanicAdvisor.com website features customer reviews, articles, and detailed profiles of over 500,000 mechanics across the country. Mechanic Advisor is headquartered in Boston, MA.




questions: dontgetwrenched@gmail.com

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Look, Direct Capital listed this blog at #16 of the 50 Top Automotive blogs!!


16. Don’t Get Wrenched

Don’t Get Wrenched is a site designed to help auto repair customers know as much as possible about auto repair so that they can protect themselves from costly repair costs. Archives date back to January 2011 and feature the knowledge of Elayne Kling, owner of a downtown Manhattan auto repair shop for 20 years. She especially loves sharing her wisdom and helping women and men learn how to handle repair shops and become more informed customers.

Three posts we like from Don’t Get Wrenched:

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Hold on to your catalytic converters and I mean that literally. In the past month we have seen 4 vehicles that have had theirs cut off. Catalytic converters have platinum in them and therefore they are worth some money in the salvage market. Here in Brooklyn thieves are going around and cutting them off. Customers return to their cars after parking them overnight, start them up and are blasted by the cacophony of an exhaustless vehicle.

missing cat

Cats are expensive as well and insurance companies will pay a claim on this theft, minus your deductible, but they love to go online and get the cheapest price for the lowest quality and pay out that rate. In most cases I don’t recommend the cheap cats because they’ve been known to last for only a brief period and they are needed to pass state inspections so you’ll need one to last long term.

There isn’t even anything we can do to help customers mitigate this in the future, a pipe is easy to cut away with the right tools. So the best you can do is to be aware of where you are parking your vehicle. If it looks sketchy at all, move on.


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To Sell or Not

I’m constantly being asked this question and while I’ve addressed this before, I’m happy to rehash it again. “When should I get rid of my old car and buy a new one?” Now many websites love to go over this and they have a very technical view of the whole thing but mine is much simpler. WHEN YOU CAN AFFORD ONE.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I am a very practical person and not a very sentimental one. I’m not one of those people who names my cars or holds onto them because they have some sentimental value to me.
They are tools to be used to get me from one place to another and hopefully be comfortable while doing so, period.
To me a newer Jeep is better than an older one.


My advice is to do the math. If the amount of money you are spending on your car is starting to equal what you could spend on a newer one (don’t forget to factor in the amount you will gain by selling the old one), my advice would be to get a newer one. If you are so in love with your car that you can’t give it up (believe me there are plenty of you out there) then by all means, dump all your life savings into it, but don’t come crying to me when you’re broken down on the side of the road without a dime to your name. I know that sounds harsh but so many people endlessly spend money on “Edwina” because she’s a part of the family.  I’m sorry, NO. 

Oh and if you have a classic car then ignore all of the above. Go ahead and
dump some money into that, up to a point, we need to preserve as many of those
as possible.


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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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