Amarillo, TX - It's no secret getting work done on your car could cost you a few bucks more than you would like, but could that same work end up costing a woman more than it would a man.
It's an idea pushed by people, society and even the media.
So NewsChannel 10 decided to tackle this myth, to either confirm or debunk it. We mic'd up one of our own male photographers and sent him into multiple auto repair shops in Amarillo in an unmarked car asking for a basic road trip inspection. For the most part, the car came out squeaky clean. A few places charged him a fee just to do the check, and only one location made a point to mention that the brake pads on the car might need to be replaced soon. But the oil was good, and filters were good.
We wanted at least one un-biased look at the car, so we took it to a local dealership and told them we were doing this story. They gave it a once over and also found the brake pads were wearing down, but wouldn't need to be bothered for another 5,000 - 10,000 miles. Everything else looked great. It was after that check, we tried the same experiment again, but this time with a female.
Then, we followed the same process with one of NewsChannel 10's female photographers and sent her back to the same shops with the same car. She wasn't charged more for the basic check, but she was offered a more expensive oil change for about $60. In another shop, she was encouraged to get a new air induction filter to help with gas mileage and was told she'd soon need a part replacement that could cost anywhere from $600 to $800. Lastly, she was given the same verdict as the male photographer: the car was in good shape. But none of the mechanics the female talked to mentioned work on the brake pads at all.
So, what was the verdict? Hard to tell with such a small experiment of our own. In some cases, she was pushed additional services, but overall wasn't charged more for the inspections nor did she actually have to get any work done that day.
Hundreds of viewers also weighed in on this topic through an online poll on the NewsChannel 10 website. Of those polled, 62 percent believe women still have a harder time than men when it comes to auto repairs. Only two percent believe the whole idea is a myth, but a third group making up 36 percent said they felt it was less about your gender and more about your knowledge of the car.
Turns out, the third group is actually right. Research in recent years has shown it's more about being an informed consumer when it comes to how much your charged.
"Once you're using the right words of you start the technicians in the right area, they tend to assume you know more so you'll probably get a better deal," explained Paula Schlegel, a professor of Gender Communications for West Texas A&M University.
So whether it's a myth or not, when armed with knowledge, both men and men have a better chance at saving themselves from being stereotyped and maybe save a few bucks while they're at it.