consumer affairs bermuda

Women and Car Repairs

07/25/2011 | Quite a lot of the complaints we get at the Department of Consumer Affairs are about car repairs — and the majority of them are from women. I confess that what I know about cars is nothing to write home about.

I can check the oil, put air in the tyres, fill the windshield wiper fluid, jump my battery, check and fill the radiator fluid (I think) and — if push came to shove — I could probably change a flat tyre, although to date I have never tried.

Ladies, it is time that we took matters into our own hands so that we are not being held hostage by our mechanic.

Being savvy about car repairs and maintenance will not only save us time, but will save us money.

Without going into too much detail, I have put together five good tips for women about car maintenance and repair. I also suggest you research on the Internet and talk to your mechanic to learn more.

Read the manual

Understand how your car works.

The owner’s manual is the guide to how to operate and maintain your vehicle. All vehicles should come with one and if it doesn’t, you should be able to download it off the Internet.

Do you really know what the warning lights on your dashboard are telling you?

If you don’t or aren’t 100 per cent sure, read your owner’s manual and familiarize yourself with the different warning symbols.

These warning lights are your car’s way of telling you what is going on and you should know what it’s telling you.

Use a reliable repair shop

Use a reliable repair shop, preferably the dealership you bought your car from.

They have the warranty, parts and history, and mechanics that get to know your car and are trained to do work on your make and model.

By using your dealership you are placing yourself in a strong position to negotiate, should something go wrong, and you can then avoid the blame game.

If you are not using your dealer for repairs and decide to shop around, get recommendations from friends and colleagues and estimates from more than one shop.

Never base your decision on just the price. A lower price does not always mean the best deal. Do your research.

Get a written detailed written quote.

Quotes

Don’t let work begin on your automobile until you have a detailed written quote and you have given your consent.

If the problem can’t be diagnosed right away, insist that the shop contact you for authorization once they find out what the problem is, and again if they discover more problems once they start working on your car.

Maintain service records

Keep copies of all paperwork and maintain accurate service/repair records.

Even if your mechanic has records of your car maintenance and repairs you can save time and money by keeping your own records.

Additionally, if you decide to sell your car, having these records will be very useful as perspective buyers will want this information.

Basic checks

Check the oil. Many problems with cars are due to low oil or none at all. Simply pull out the oil stick, wipe it off, stick it back in, and read it.

Check your brake fluid. If you are having problems with your brakes there’s a good chance that your brake fluid is low. Find out where the brake fluid container is located in your engine. Check the level by unscrewing it and reading. You don’t need to wipe it off first. If the brake fluid is full, you may have to change your brake pads.

Check the radiator fluid. If your car is overheating you have probably run out of coolant for your radiator. Before you unscrew the radiator cap let the car cool down for a few hours. This is very important. Otherwise you can blow a gasket.

Change a tyre. Read your owner’s manual and familiarize yourself with the location of the tools and how to use them.

Make sure you know where your spare tyre is located and how to remove it.

Jump the battery. Check the manual first as some car instructions say no jump starting. If you car can be jump started, invest in a good set of jumper cables and keep them in your car.

Remember — always check your car manual before performing any maintenance on your car.

I strongly suggest going to www.howstuffworks.com for detailed information on basic car maintenance and to get an understanding of how cars work.