Women are generally quoted higher on car repairs than men, according to a new study out of Northwestern University.

It seems old habits die hard. There may have been a time in the past when men generally knew more about the workings of automobiles. But the technology in cars today has been an equalizer between the sexes; nobody really understands what's going on beneath the hood, unless that is your field of training!

In general, the best time to find a mechanic is before you have a car problem. Get to know a repair shop and develop a relationship over time by having them do routine maintenance like oil changes. That way when the chips are down, you know where to take your vehicle.

If you're at a loss in picking a shop, consult websites with user-generated reviews like Yelp and Kudzu for guidance. Or if you're an AAA member, use one of their recommended shops. For foreign nameplates, I suggest you go to single-brand independent shops that are not affiliated with a dealer.

You always want to talk with the mechanic doing work on your car. I am not a fan of the traditional dealer service model where you only talk to the service ticket writer, not the mechanic actually doing the work.

When dealing with a service writer, be sure they note the symptoms you're seeing in your vehicle, not the remedy. Too often they'll just write "do a tuneup" when you're saying the car is intermittently losing punch while driving. The problem then becomes that you sign your name to authorize "do a tuneup" while the true nature of the problem remains undiagnosed.

And, of course, if you get an estimate that's very high, go elsewhere for another quote. And if you're a woman getting a quote over the phone, have a male friend call up and see what story they get.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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