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Car Advice from a Woman

What most of us need from a car guide is clear, practical advice. That’s what readers will find in Mary Jackson’s Car Smarts: An Easy-to-Use Guide to Understanding Your Car and Communicating With Your Mechanic. Jackson says that she felt powerless when dealing with car repair shops until she moved to a small town in Vermont and took a job in a local body shop.

Here are some of Jackson’s tips for dealing with mechanics and choosing shops to work on your car. Research repair shops through word of mouth and auto club. Don’t just look for the closest shop. Check out shops’ reputations through the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Complaint offices. Don’t wait to choose a shop until you are in need of major repair work—test the shop first with a minor repair or service. Make sure the shop has diagnostic computers needed to analyze today’s computerized vehicles, and skilled technicians to run them. Check out technicians’ certification and credentials. Choose a shop where you feel you are treated well and fairly. Compare prices among specialty and independent shops. Determine guarantees. Keep accurate records of your car’s repairs, maintenance, fuel economy, and the like. Communicate your car’s symptoms clearly to the technicians. Get a written estimate. Mary Jackson’s book contains a wealth of information, advice and tips for car owners. It is published by John Muir Publications, Santa Fe, New Mexico (800) 888-7504 and is available at bookstores