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Women and Repair Shops

I’m quite sure that this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this gripe, but I’m annoyed and need to vent somewhere. Yesterday I took my car to a national chain shop because there was a loud banging noise coming from the rear end. A fellow in my office said, “Take it to _____. You need new shocks”. This was after I had already taken it to the repair shop I usually use who put it up on the lift and told me there was nothing wrong. So I took it to the national chain repair shop in town. When I took the car in, I was given a quote for $630.00. I called my husband who said, “that sounds high, let me call.” So, my husband called and asked how much the parts cost, he was told the cost of the ppart, and my husband was satisfied that the price was ok. The repair shop did the work, and called me this morning to let me know that the car was ready and that they had “GOOD NEWS” for me…the repair was only $428, not the $630 originally estimated.

Of course I was delighted, but as I thought about it, I wondered if they had changed the estimate because my husband called them on it and were they just trying to take advantage of me because they knew they were dealing with someone (a woman) who doesn’t know anything more about cars than how to drive?

If you are happy with the work done, I wouldn’t read too much into it. There are times when the overall initial estimate is higher than the actual work done. I certainly prefer that to the “Oh, this is going to cost $200 more than we estimated” phone call.

You may be right or the shop may be trying to make themselves look good by comming in under their estimate.

What year 323? The reason I ask is for the e-36 version of the 323 (1999 and prior quite a few years) the noise was caused by the upper mount on the shock not the shock its self and the upper mount is much cheaper.

Even if your car is the later version (e-46) I still would have explored the potential of the shock mount.

These cars can have front sway-bar noises that get mis-diagnoised.

It’s a '98 323i, and it was the shock mounts as well as the shocks. Thanks for your comments. As I said earlier, I know nothing about my car except how to drive it (lots of fun), and am at the mercy of whatever the guy says I need.

Adding to oldschool’s post, I want to recommend that you AVOID “national chain” repair shops in the future, despite what your co-worker recommended. Whether it was Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, Pep Boys, or any other chain with which I am familiar, the comment elements with these shops are:

Mechanics who are not the “better” ones in their field
Mechanics who work on commission (i.e-selling more parts means higher income)
Lots of “upselling”. (As but one example, the advertised “$59. brake job” is never available without the addition of new rotors–whether they are needed or not.)

The result of going to a “national chain” rather than to a competent independent mechanic is almost always higher cost, replacement of parts that did not need to be replaced, and poor workmanship.
In total, not a good value for your money.

As I stated earlier, ignore the co-worker who thinks that national chain shops are wonderful, and take that Beemer to a foreign car specialist who has good BMW expertise. If that indy foreign car specialist is as knowledgeable as oldschool (who used to be a BMW dealer mechanic), you might have only had the shock mounts or the sway bar bushings replaced, rather than the much more expensive shock absorbers.

This link to Auto Zone Auto Parts shows prices for shock/stuts which are far lower than what you paid:[] What brand, and part names, does your receipt show? “Genuine BMW”?

Shops that cheat people are equal opportunity. They cheat men and women both. In this case I susect they gave you a worst case estimate and came in under the estimate. There could be a number of reasons for this, but it certainly is not dishonest.

If the problem has been solved than take the extra $$$$$ and go out for a nice evening with hubby. Don’t overthink the thing.

I actually have been taking it to a foreign car specialist. But when I took it this time, he put it up on the lift and said there was nothing wrong. “Probably something bouncing around in the trunk”. I’m losing faith in him. I think i need to find a new mechanic.

Your comments make me winch as even the beginning mechanics get told early what things to look out for on each car. Mechanics are in competition with each other but we do look out for the shops overall reputation,what I mean is, I would never hold back information from a mechanic at a shop I worked at just to make him look bad.

OR … spend the money on a nice shirt and slacks at 3 times the cost your husband would pay for matching duds.