CarZeus and the Female Surcharge

Thursday was a day off work, because I needed to get some work done on the car. It needed an oil change and tire rotation, plus it was time for the 48-month checkup and I was getting some funky error warnings on the dashboard. So I took the day to pile all those appointments on one day.

First stop was CarZeus, the God of Automotives. I have written about CarZeus before, both the original CarZeus (long retired) and the current master of cars, who bought the business from him years ago. Both CarZeus I and II have kept a variety of sorry-ass Detroit iron rolling for me, quoted me fair prices, gotten the work done quickly, never upsold me on shit I don't need, and have never tacked on what I call the Female Surcharge: the strangely higher price we seem to get quoted when it's me doing the discussion, with bonus condescension because we little females don't know cars and frequent attempts to upsell.*

I've been a longtime customer, going back to my dilapidated Chevy and ancient Ford Taurus, when the original CarZeus informed me that Ford stood for Found On Road Dead and backwards was Driver Returns on Foot, and there was a third anagram he wouldn't tell me because I was a lady. (I figured it out later: Fucked-Over Rebuilt Dodge.) They understood that a single mom with a less-than-overflowing bank account needed her car to keep working and didn't have funds for all the bells and whistles.

Fortunately, Ariane the Honda Fit is, well, fit. She's a hell of a car, and I strongly recommend her. Very few problems at more than four years old, 36 mpg on average, and she can haul the entire Literary Underworld with the back seats folded down. Oil change was necessary, of course, and the cabin and engine air filters were shot, but in all it was fairly painless.

Then I had lunch with Jim before heading off to my other appointment. See, when I bought four new tires in 2015 from Big Box Tires, I also bought the lifetime rotation and balance plan, so I always come back to them for free rotations. Also, I was getting a low-pressure warning on my dashboard, and suspected the front passenger tire, which had a little piece of rubber torn up on the side from where I probably bumped a curb.

Big Box Tires... well, I'm used to them assuming that I'll blindly sign for anything they recommend, because heh, they don't know me. I research everything, plan and study and consider... It has taken me more time than I care to recall to finally buy myself new cookware**, because you don't just rush into these things, this is a long-term commitment to an expensive item and... shut up. I have commitment issues, okay? Ask Jim sometime what it took to talk me into marriage.

Big Box Tires rotated and balanced my tires, said they couldn't fix that little flap - can't be patched, just replaced. (We'll see.) He then recommended replacing the front two tires, which he said were getting low on tread; a fuel system cleaning for $105; and replacing the cabin air filter.

Uh huh.

Big Box Tires recommended replacing a part I had literally replaced that day. I informed him of this, and I got some stammering and squinting at the recommendation sheet, and then he said, "Well, he must have been basing this on mileage."

So they were recommending replacement of a part they had not examined. That fills me with confidence. I declined all for now.

Later I called up CarZeus and told him how they tried to sell me on a cabin air filter. I don't think I've ever heard him laugh that hard. Then he told me the fuel system cleaning thing is a waste of money at this point, don't bother.

I'll trust the guy who treats me like a person, never applies a Female Surcharge, and never tries to talk me into shit I don't need. Even if he charged me more (and he doesn't), I'd stick with him, and I recommend his shop - real name: Jack's Auto Repair on Main Street in Edwardsville - to absolutely everyone in my area, because when you find an honest mechanic, you stick with him.

And it turns out he sells tires.

* To be fair: I have learned about cars from the number of things that have gone kablooey on my previous cars. By now I'm familiar with about two-thirds of the things that can go wrong. I am not a mechanic or any kind of expert. But neither am I dumb.
** Look, three years is not unreasonable when buying high-end cookware, okay? You're talking a 20-year purchase, that's the kind of thing you want to consider fully... I bought it today, all right?