The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

26 December 2007

Please present Y chromosome for estimate

I've already linked to this post of Tam's, but this time, instead of purely tire-oriented material (such as this), I'm going to bring up what she calls the "Just a Girl" treatment.

If you're female and you drive, you already know about this; us guys, maybe not so much. There isn't much research on the topic, and what there is [link goes to PDF file] isn't exactly conclusive, and yes, it is true, several anecdotes do not necessarily constitute data, but there seem to exist at least some situations in which, all else being equal, the mechanic is going to assume that a female customer isn't going to know any better and will start padding the tab and/or bringing on the verbal condescension.

Og's mom might have gotten some of this:

[A]gainst my better wishes, she took it to a dealer for an estimate.

The estimate involved a new oil pan (it was totally destroyed, according to the written) and gasket ($1400, parts and labor) and a new pair of upper and lower ball joints (desperately needed, please do not drive the vehicle under any circumstances).

First note: this is a Ford Taurus. Struts up front. No upper ball joints. Og looks at the lowers, and they look fine.

So about that oil pan:

The gasket has just worked its way out. So I loosen the pan bolts, let it sag a bit, push the gasket back into place, and re-tighten the bolts.

Total time spent: fifteen minutes, including the de rigueur oil change. (Easier to work on the oil pan if it isn't full.) Total expense: $19.

And finally:

I'm sending a copy of the estimate and the pictures to Ford Corporate to let them know how their shops are treating old women.

I have no idea if the younger ones are being treated any better, but I have no real reason to think so.

(Disclosure: During my last few months as a Mazda guy, I got to deal with a female service manager. While she always played straight with me, I have no idea how she might have treated other customers, male or female, though I have no reason to suspect she might have been up to something shabby.)

Posted at 3:13 PM to Driver's Seat


Some mechanics are equal opportunity assholes. I'd replaced the lower ball joints on an older car and drove it to Kmart (about 8 miles) to have the front end checked/aligned. The mechanic -without even looking under the car- told me I needed new lowers and proceeded to show me why--he jammed a long bar under the tire and yanked up and down on it...of course, there's lateral movement as that's what the ball joint is there for, and to allow some, yet restrict it. I commented that his test method isn't what's shown as proper in the repair manual (HIS repair manual, even). He proceeded to argue the point. I got rather rude with him and told him to take it off the jack and STFU. I went to the Chevy dealership and drove off about a half hour later with a perfectly aligned front end, and NO bull about unnecessary parts.

Posted by: unimpressed at 3:49 PM on 26 December 2007

It has been my experience that con jobs are neither gender nor age specific but equal opportunity scams that can happen to feature areas of specialization. Can't remember how very many times someone tried selling me a shot-out pistol when I was younger. Or a vehicle that was running on banana peel and motor honey. Now that I'm older it has begun happening again to a certain degree, interestingly enough from those young enough to believe my perspicuity to be diminished. This of course makes it fun.

Posted by: Fits at 4:41 PM on 26 December 2007