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Women pay more for car repair

By Tara Baukus Mello · Bankrate.com
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

A new study suggests that women who don't appear knowledgeable about the cost of a car repair may pay more than men. The study, which was conducted by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in collaboration with AutoMD.com, a car repair information website, used field experiments with both men and women calling car-repair shops to ask for a quote on replacing the radiator on a 2003 Toyota Camry. The callers appeared to be well-informed of the market price for the repair ($365), misinformed with a higher price expectation ($510) or uninformed, with no expectation of price.

Both men and women who said they knew the average cost was $365 were both quoted $393 initially. Both genders who said they expected to pay $510 were quoted a significantly higher, but similar, rate for the auto repair -- $426 for men and $428 for women. But when each gender expressed no knowledge of the price, women didn't fare as well. Those men were quoted $383, while women who said they had no idea of the cost were quoted $406.

Interestingly, when the men and women in the study tried to negotiate after the initial price quote, 35 percent of the women were able to get the car-repair shop to meet their price, whereas only 25 percent of men had success.

For tips on determining the cost of an auto repair, read "How much should your car repair cost?"

Do you think you get a fair price on car repairs?

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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33 Comments
Laura
September 23, 2013 at 11:51 am

What an interesting post! I'm not surprised really but I doubt that every mechanic shop does this.

Michelle Rhodes
July 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Apparently I've been trusting the same mechanic/auto care/Mobil station for the past 13 years. Yes, I'm a female. Most recently my son looked at the brakes/rotors, and whatever else goes with those items. Auto Care sent the ones that were replaced because they were almost non-functional. My son then went up to the station .. asked them why he had ripped me off so badly. The service station said 'well, no they didn't need replaced just then but would need replacing at some point.' I refuse to even buy my gas there now, no new tires, not even chewing gum!! I've spent thousands of $'s over the years to get a lot of unneeded repairs done. I admit that I know nothing about cars (obviously) have had been very loyal to crooks!!!!

CAROLYN
July 17, 2013 at 6:55 pm

I am a female auto repair shop owner. There are several variables this article does not account for. A bit more homework seems to be in order here. Did the estimates come from the same shop? Each shop has a different labor rate. Were the parts quoted the same brand? Some shops prefer different brands based on experience with them. Without answering some of these questions I don't really see how you can jump to this conclusion. It ends up tainting the customer experience and making it that much harder for reputable shops like mine to gain new customers. Does this kind of thing go on? Probably. Is it fair to make this general statement of all shops? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

rick
July 17, 2013 at 6:35 pm

its buyer beware. if they know you are green, they will take youre money.

RMAH
July 17, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Reading this article with great interest since I am a recipient,(female by the way, and past 70) of questionable repair charges. Seems as though when I take my vehicle for repair, the mechanics see $$$$$$$. I must be a retired senior with a huge pension on top of social security and can afford to pay more; or I must be a widow with a huge bank account left by my deceased husband. Give me a break! Three times in 10 months I have been told I need to have my rotors turned. How often does this need to be done. The first repair charged 600.00, thought it was repaired but about a month later I was hearing the same noises that I was hearing prior to repair. I had to take the car to the dealer to have a recall taken care of and while there had them check it out. 400.00 to have the rotors turned and was told that they had not ever been turned. Now the car is acting as though it needs it again. UGH Also put new shocks on and while that was being done my two front tires were replaced with two worn out ones of the same brand. How's that for being ripped off? Just be careful out there ladies, especially if you are a senior citizen.

RMAH
July 17, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Reading this article with great interest since I am a recipient,(female by the way, and past 70) of questionable repair charges. Seems as though when I take my vehicle for repair, the mechanics see $$$$$$$. I must be a retired senior with a huge pension on top of social security and can afford to pay more; or I must be a widow with a huge bank account left by my deceased husband. Give me a break! Three times in 10 months I have been told I need to have my rotors turned. How often does this need to be done. The first repair charge charged 600.00, thought it was repaired but about a month later I was hearing the same noises that I was hearing prior to repair. I had to take the car to the dealer to have a recall taken care of and while there had them check it out. 400.00 to have the rotors turned and was told that they had not ever been turned. Now the car is acting as though it needs it again. UGH Also put new shocks on and while that was being done my two front tires were replaced with two worn out ones of the same brand. How's that for being ripped off? Just be careful out there ladies, especially if you are a senior citizen.

earthmom56
July 17, 2013 at 1:55 pm

I have had this happen to me and to all the ladies in my office. The male population here at the office take their car into the shop next door to the office, same place the ladies do. They always get a better price for the same work. It seems to me that the price should be the price for parts cost and the hourly wage.

Auto mechanics, vetrenarians and dentists all have outrageous prices, and you have to ask before you have any work done, but sometimes it is an emergency and you can't, that is when they rip you off the most.

chuck
July 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I have been in the business 35+ years. To take your study a step further you should note that I have seen the same automobile come to the dealership for the same repairs and each pay different prices. It is due to the fact that most technicians are flat rate and quote what they "feel" the job is worth rather than the dealer or repair shop having a set price. Very wrong but it happens sorry to say.

D. Wilson
July 17, 2013 at 9:40 am

Just recently, the Jeep dealership (which has serviced my vehicle for years), quoted me an outrageous price to have a new engine/transmission installed. I discovered a wonderful mechanic, with years of experience, who works for an airport and has a private shop on the side. He attends my church. He took my Jeep and replaced the Tranny, Engine, Radiator, Battery, all new hoses and all new wiring. Yes, this vehicle is an older, but garaged model, with well over 250,000 miles on it. I did not want to replace it with a newer model. The price would shock you! I have a new vehicle with a 3 year/100,000 mile warranty on all the parts. The quote for everything was a third of what the dealership quoted on JUST the Tranny/motor!! Afterward, I had problems with the NEWLY installed air conditioner that the dealership had charged me $1,200 last year. When this mechanic replaced the air conditioner, he videoed the parts, before and after they were removed. The dealership NEVER replaced any of the parts. I thought I had a good relationship with them.

AnJo1
July 17, 2013 at 9:25 am

This study shows "what" but not "why". Yes, it may be mechanics are just taking advantage of uneducated women. It may also mean that mechanics know that women who try to negotiate will get them to reduce the price more and so feel they need to start out higher. Or it could mean that mechanics have noticed some other variable that is sex-related. It could be that they have to spend more time explaining things to women customers, or that women customers make more complaints about the service afterward, or demand more free follow-up work, or have more expensive cars on average, or are more likely to pay with credit cards instead of cash, or any number of other variables.

I'm not particularly impressed with a study like this. Without knowing how the authors accounted for variables, it means very little.