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Lansing Journal Features Ask Patty as Great Women's Site!

Published Feb 22nd 2007, 11:12pm by

It's just a car ... it's not worth getting rattled

Ask questions until you're satisfied with the answers

By Andrew Domino and Noelle Bowman
For GLWOMAN

It's almost like something out of a TV sit-com: A woman brings her car into a repair shop, then spends 10 minutes making strange noises, trying to explain what's wrong with the vehicle. But sometimes drastic - and strange - measures are needed to make sure you car gets fixed right the first time.

"Don't be afraid to use as much description as possible," says Craig Fountain, manager of Randall Auto Parts in Lansing. "It's kind of like going to the doctor: the more we know, the better we can do."

Lisa Schuesler, assistant service manager at Saturn of Okemos, agrees.

"Men and women both make the noises describing the problems," Schuesler says.

Experts say try to identify exactly which part of the engine is causing trouble by lifting the hood while the engine is running.

Drivers also need remember when and how often they have difficulty - after driving for a long period of time, once in a while or while the car is starting up, for example.

Fountain said while friends and even the crew at the oil change shop may be able to give knowledgeable advice, the only way to be sure is to look for a facility with Automotive Service Excellence certification. He said those shops check a car from top to bottom, looking not only at the problems computers scanning the car might spot, but everything else, too.

Schuesler echoes that advice.

"The only person who truly understands is the qualified technician," she says.

Schuesler says if you don't understand what the technician is describing, ask him to take you to your car and show you what he's talking about.

One of the biggest basic car repair sites on the Internet is focused on women: www.askpatty.com. It offers advice on buying and fixing cars, answering simple questions like, "Is an engine really bad when the 'check engine' light comes on?" and more complicated ones like, "How do you find a good honest mechanic?"

The Web site recommends looking for a quality mechanic before the car starts having problems, and for a repair shop staff willing to answer your questions. Fountain recommends looking for a mechanic who's even willing to join a driver on the road.

"Ask technicians to go for a ride," he said. "Say, 'I can't explain it to you, but you'll see if I drive around.' Each make and model has its own quirks."

Saturn of Okemos and Grand Ledge owner Sherrill Freeborough says she had the same anxieties when she would seek car repairs.

"Be picky," she says about choosing a mechanic. "If you don't feel comfortable, then you should go somewhere else."

Web sites for women

www.askpatty.com: woman-focused advice on buying and repairing cars

www.ase.com/bluesealsearch/locator.php: ASE Certified repair shops

www.roadandtravel.com: tips on basic repairs and on-the-road travel with children

See original article here.



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