woman working on a car

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: a meek damsel in distress, standing over her steaming car engine on the side of the road, pacing in confusion while on her cell phone. We’ve all seen this tired old scene on TV and in movies. For decades, the world of cars has been one of the most cliched in terms of gender stereotyping – a bastion of male competence where women are perceived as helpless, dithering drivers, ripe to be overcharged and oversold. In short, ripped off!

But Shahe Kolloukian, owner of Mazvo Auto Car Care Center – a full-service repair facility – has made it his mission to change this. With a clientele that is 82% female, Mazvo strives to educate its customers so that they understand the fundamentals of auto repair, while providing a personal service experience like no other. “Even if you’re not ‘into’ cars, it’s important for women to equip themselves with some basic knowledge about their vehicles,” says Shahe.

We caught up with Shahe to get a few pointers and asked him an all-important question: what should we look for in an auto repair shop, and how can we get past our fear of being swindled?

The most important thing you can do right from the start, he recommends, is to ask plenty of questions and expect answers. “This will let the facility know that you’re on top of what you’re about to be told,” he says. “The goal is to build a relationship built on communication and trust so that you can continue to do business with one repair facility instead of the ‘coupon of the week.”‘ Some questions Shahe suggests:

  • Ask how old their equipment is
  • Ask if the facility is fully insured
  • Ask about the credentials of their technicians
  • Ask if their invoices itemize parts and labor for all repairs
  • Request a tour of the shop

Additionally, says Shahe, a good auto repair shop will listen to your concerns. “If they don’t listen first, they’re basically telling you that you don’t know what you’re talking about,” he advises. “Your mechanic is like a doctor; it’s important to have a clear line of communication. Listening is one of the most important aspects of my business.” Shahe’s tips:

  • Explain why you brought your vehicle in
  • Understand the repair shop’s hourly rate
  • Clarify what the diagnosis is going to cost
  • Make sure to go for ride with the technician so that they can see and hear what you’re concerned about, rather than assuming what they hear is what you’re talking about

Shahe believes that a little automotive education goes a long way, which is why he and his staff are so committed to help­ing clients really understand what’s being done. “You will be amazed at how just a few pointers about the workings of your ve­hicle can make a huge impact on how you deal with your car repairs,” he says. Armed with the right questions to ask, you can be sure you’re making the best decisions – and not being underestimated in the process.

This article was originally published in So Scottsdale magazine