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Empowering women motorists

All women need is a little knowledge to help them overcome their reservations when dealing with mechanics. Here we offer tips to give them the required insight.

It’s a sad fact that many women feel daunted when they enter a mechanic’s workshop; usually because they don’t feel comfortable in their knowledge about vehicle-related issues. They worry that the mechanic may laugh at their attempts to explain their car’s problems, or because they’re concerned the mechanic may try to cheat them.

The best way to help women motorists feel more empowered is by arming them with knowledge – and assuring them a MIWA accreditation means they are dealing with mechanics who can be trusted, and who will provide impeccable service.

MIWA accreditation is therefore the first thing a woman driver should look for when selecting a service, as this is a sign that they adhere to rigorous standards and that there is recourse should they believe they have received inferior service. It’s also a good idea to look for the technician’s qualifications, which should be clearly displayed. The absence thereof may be a warning sign, as is an untidy and disorderly workshop or staff who look as if they have no pride in their work. Female drivers are advised to request a quote for repairs before work begins (so that you have an idea of the expense) and to thoroughly check the invoice upon receipt. Ask if you are unsure of anything. A red flag should be raised if a workshop is willing to backdate your service – it’s a sign of dishonesty, and it is crucially important that your technician is transparent in all areas of the business. If you have a sense that he isn’t, or if you have a bad feeling about anything at all, be ready to walk away.

MIWA’s Eastern Cape Vice Chairperson, Teresa Spenser Higgs,  says that women needn’t feel uncomfortable when approaching a mechanic because no one knows their car quite as well as they do. It also helps that they generally give good descriptions of any challenges they’re experiencing, without including any information they may have gleaned from the Internet – as male drivers often do! She urges women to overcome their feelings of discomfort, as the longer they leave a vehicle issue, the more serious it becomes.

It also helps to learn a little, so that you are not powerless should you need assistance and can’t find help nearby. It’s worth learning how to change a tyre, check oil and water levels, and be able to recognise when you can continue driving your car and when towing is required, for example.