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The Reality Guide to Auto Repair Shops

Published July 5, 2012

For women or anyone men that have had to Google turn signal oil. . .

 

Good things NOT to say to your mechanic

With the news cars produced over the past ten plus years that require a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and knowing Japanese as a second language to fix, working on your own car is no longer an option for a majority of the driving population. In a man’s world, women should never work on their own cars anyway, but I will get to that later. In all actuality, most people could really give a rat’s ass about what is going on under the hood of their car. As long as they know where to put gas in it, how to start it and work the stereo, life is good. This is until that fateful moment that your beloved whatever you drive does not start, or it suddenly emits a horrible noise that the volume of the stereo can no longer hide. Worse yet, the loud noise suddenly turns into something just short of a stick of dynamite going off under your hood and you leave a trail of various automotive fluids on the road behind you.

While you are thankful the noise has stopped, you are not so happy that your car no longer runs at all. The first step for anyone with any sense would be to turn on your caution flashers. For those that are clueless, it is the button that resembles a slow moving vehicle triangle on the back of an Amish buggy. Just like the one that just passed you on the road out in the middle of nowhere. We all know that your car will not self-destruct close to home; it will be as far away from civilization as possible, perhaps your car’s way of giving you the finger. At this point you are searching amongst the pile of junk in your glove compartment to find your AAA card or your insurance card, which at the time you received them, did not feel were very important. You finally find your AAA card at the bottom of a pile of McDonald’s napkins, your extra deodorant and a few other unmentionables you forgot about. Let the games begin!

You call AAA and they ask you for you VIN number so they can find your car in their system. At this point, the only thing VIN means to you is Vin Diesel, and what the hell does he have to do with this. After the English as a second language customer service person tells you where it is, you rattle it off four or five times until the customer service person understands you. The next question is, uh oh, your location. Well since you are using your smart phone, you can no longer GPS where you are, and since you have not updated your Tom Tom since you bought it, it is just as worthless. Therefore, you wander the road, find a road sign, and advise the customer service person of your location, she advises they will send someone out, and have a nice day. Now you get to wait, and wait, and wait, until the local towing company finds their tow driver at the local bar and finds him a truck to drive. So, finally, after what seems to be days, the tow truck driver arrives. Now, keep in mind that tow truck drivers make minimum wage driving a tow truck because they are experts at auto repairs.

Well, your vehicle is now on the tow truck and now starts the wonderful journey back to your local auto repair shop to find out why your car went “BOOM” and does not run anymore. Sit back and enjoy the ride, as you will already know what is wrong with your car, (as the automotive expert tow truck driver will give use his advanced knowledge to diagnose your problem by diffusion) and you will know way more about the tattooed, bald, permanently dirty tow truck driver than you really want to know. After what seems like another few days, you arrive at the auto repair shop, greeted by a group of mechanics with that “WTF now” looks on their faces, which get even better the minute you get out of the tow truck smelling like a combination of dirty ass and grease. This is now where this turns into a choose your own ending blog, if you are female, continue reading, if you are male, skip down to the section marked, “men that should know better”, if you have no idea, read whatever you like.

For women, this might be one of the most intimidating situations you ever face. First word of advice is, do not repeat what Billy Joe Jim Bob the tow truck driver told you, as it will make your experience far worse than it already will be. An auto repair shop is nowhere for a woman, period. If you have a male counterpart of any type, husband, boyfriend, brother, masculine girlfriend, whatever, now is a good time to call them in to assist. Before even talking to anyone salespeople, simply advise them that you have to wait for so and so because they are paying the bill; chances are they will avoid you like the plague if payment comes into question. The more money you appear not to have, the less they can try to sell you (this is where the turn signal oil comes in) therefore they will not make money. If you are one of the unfortunate few that have no back up, do yourself a favor and get Google open on your smart phone and get ready to start using it. As soon as they look at your car, ask them what is specifically wrong and start Googling your fingers off. If what you find fits with what they say, go ahead and let them fix it, if they try to sell you turn signal oil, call their bluff, and be an educated car owner.

MEN THAT SHOULD KNOW BETTER:  Follow the same instructions for a woman; just walk far enough away after they pull your car in so the mechanics can have a good laugh for the day at what a dumbass you are.

If you are among the educated car owners, male or female, count your blessings and hope that your car can be fixed. If not, do not waste the shops time, get it out of there and start looking for another car. There is nothing mechanics hate more than wasting their time finding out what is wrong with a car, then the customer says, “I do not want to fix it”, after they spent half of their commission-only day wasting their time tearing your piece of junk apart. If it is something that can be fixed, do not be a pain in the ass, they can only work as fast as they get parts and as long as it takes to fix the problem. Thank them, find a ride home, and wait for them to call you to let you know your car is done. If you want to show them you appreciate them, on the way to pick up your car, do not be cheap, go buy a couple dozen donuts and a gallon of milk for the shop guys and thank them for fixing your car.

Now that you know what to do when your car breaks down and need repairs whether you know what you are talking about or are completely clueless, the important part to remember is respect. Respect your mechanic, because much like an annoyed waiter or waitress, they have their own way of “spitting in your food” if you get what I mean. Learn from the experience and try not to be a clueless car owner, being a woman is not an excuse, and being a guy that knows nothing about his car has absolutely no excuse. Above all, never listen to a tow truck driver, it is like letting a landscaper cut your hair, if they knew how to do something else they would.

things tow truck drivers are good at

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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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