A Rare Find

An honest car mechanic is a rare thing to find these days – especially when you’re female. For some reason, the general stereotype still exists that most women know next to nothing about things such as cars and computers. There’s nothing I hate more than a condescending mechanic or tech guy. If I don’t know a lot about something, it’s not because I don’t have the capacity to understand it – it’s because I simply lack the time to learn more about it. Probably has something to do with getting a PhD in biomedical sciences while trying to start up an independent side business of sorts.

I don’t like mechanics who just tell you that something needs to be done to your car, because how do you know they’re telling the truth if you don’t see it for yourself? I wish I could trust that everyone is being honest, but this line of work is exceptionally well-known (or maybe just stereotyped) for being quite the opposite. So when I took my car to Pep Boys a few weeks ago to get some regular preventative maintenance done (transmission fluid and coolant flush), and they told me over the phone that they wanted to replace the serpentine belt, some sort of valve gasket, and clean my fuel injection system, all for an extra $300, it sounded sketchy. I don’t have the extra cash to get all these things done at once, and even if I did, I’d want to see what was wrong with it before okaying all that work.

So I took my car to the Meineke in PB today (on Garnet Avenue) for a regular oil change, and had them check out the serpentine belt. Turns out it did need to be replaced, but what I like about this place is that one of the guys actually brought out the old belt and showed it to me. It was indeed starting to crack and was really stiff, so it was definitely time to change it. This is the kind of service you will never get from Pep Boys. Other times that I’ve been here, I’ve been shown my dirty transmission fluid in comparison to new fluid, as proof that it needed to be changed. When I wore my brake pads completely down, Brian showed me the damage that had been done and searched out some used parts to replace what I had screwed up. And when I was paranoid that my brake pads were getting low again because the brakes were squealing, I took the car in one morning, they checked it out, told me nothing was wrong, and didn’t charge me a penny.

In addition to all that, when they replaced the belt today, while waiting for my new cheap belt to come in, Brian decided to go ahead and put one of the ones they already had in the shop in my car. It cost about $20 more, but he didn’t charge me the difference because, as he said, “I’d already been waiting there quietly and patiently for awhile.” It had only been about an hour. Not bad for an oil change plus maintenance. And on top of all that, he cleaned off my battery terminals and didn’t charge me for it.

All of this is the reason why I drive to PB and pay $30 for my oil changes. Yes, I could get it done somewhere closer to my apartment for a cheaper price, but I’d rather be the sort of regular customer that the mechanic knows and looks out for. And so, in return, I figured I’d do him a favor and maybe send some business his way. If your car has something wrong with it, or if some random shop told you that you need some work done, take it to Brian at the Meineke in PB. He’ll tell you what really needs to be done, explain the process to you, and most of all, be honest about all of it. You can trust me on that one.