VW Camper Family

A camping forum for VW bus and camper owners.

How many of you have ever seen a woman mechanic at a shop? 

I NEVER have.  I use to bring my cars to mechanics until I got an Oldsmobile 88 and started working on it myself and realized how easy it can be with the right tools and a friend.  I have taken my Bus (Lenny) into shops a few times, but the longer I own my Bus the less likely I will ever go to a mechanic again.

I just moved to Aiken SC to be close to my family and I brought Lenny into a shop here before I drove to California and back.  The mechanics there, one man in particular, laughed and said we would be lucky if we made it there.  Well we did pretty easily actually, and didn't have any trouble on the way back.  He over charged me for putting in points (typical) because I was less familiar with the engine than I am now. 

Yesterday I went to the mechanics shop and told him that I drove to Cali and back with hardly any problems and I laughed at his surprise.  I also asked him if he or anyone could rebuild my ATE break caliper for me.  He replied, "They don't make repair kits anymore, you have to buy a new one."  So I came home, read my Bently and ordered a rebuild kit from Bus Depot for $13.90. 


Now I am having a dilemma because the shop is hardly 1/2 a mile away, do I go back and tell the guy off (nicely)  for trying to get me to come in and have a whole new around $200 caliper put in.  Or do I leave it alone? 


What are your experiences with mechanics?  Do you find them sexist, like I unfortunately do?  I mean come on, I am driving a 30 year old car.  Obviously I know how to work on it...

Views: 128

Replies to This Discussion

Laura Anne, what a great post and you really have got me going, now.

I can't begin to list all the times I have been ripped off my male mechanics over the years and for all types of cars from Fords to Toyotas to Volvos. I've been especially vulnerable in the USA because they spot my accent and realize I don't know how things are done here. And it is different. Cars in the UK are always taken to the dealerships for repairs and you can mostly trust them. That's because most cars are relatively new, and the other difference is the Brits follow all the service dates and different types of services shown in the manual that comes with the car, since that way the warranty is upheld and so is the price when you sell it. Everyone looks for the service manual to see if all the boxes are checked when they purchase a used car.


Can you imagine how shocked I was when I came to the USA to find out that no-one does this and that the small mechanics are where you go to get your car sorted out? Also I never heard of a car service meaning an oil change and that you need to do that every 3000 miles. In Europe the oil is changed every 6000 or 9000 miles. Because it is so different, I was a sitting target.

But then during my trip across country last year, I had a very different experience. I met the VW family, as I call them. People who are honest and help each other. They have also taught themselves how to work on VWs and are often ingenious in the way they make parts if they are not available. What a wonderful resource. My experience was mostly in California but I also got help on my VW in New Mexico. If you read the Thanks page on my blog, you'll see that I thank all the mechanics by name, before all the other people I met on the trip.

However, when I got to Massachusetts and I'd done 3500 miles since leaving Bakersfield where I'd had mylast tune up, and I needed to get a valve adjustment and tune up, I didn't know where to go.  I was surprised also not to see any old VWs on the road which meant I saw no-one to ask. Then I remembered there was a man on Facebook who'd contacted me from MA, so I emailed him and he told me there was one mechanic who specialized in old VWs. So I called, made an appointment and took my van to his shop. He wanted $300 for a valve adjustment and tune up. I almost fell over. The guys in CA had charged me so much less. At first I was embarrassed that I had not much money so I asked what he could do for $200 (stupid me) and I left my VW camper with him. He said he'd do the work the next day, then he called next day to say he'd do it the day after. Then I heard nothing and when I called back he said he'd get to it after the upcoming weekend. Luckily I had a meeting to go to that weekend with my VW, so my friend drove me all the way back to his shop and I rescued my VW.  Needless to say we have not spoken since.

As winter was approaching I put my VW in the garage for winter storage. Now I will have a go at adjusting the valves myself in the Spring before we go back on the road. I did not want to subject my precious VW to the salty roads, in any case.  I made a video of how to adjust the valves with the mechanic in Bakersfield last year, so I am using that to remind me how to do it, as well as using the well known VW Idiot guide.           

Anyone here ever do their own valve adjustments?


Um, I don't think this is a woman vs. man thing. I have been taken to the cleaners by both. These vehicles require that we be very knowledgeable about them even if we don't work on them ourselves. If I only knew then with my first one what I know now, with the help of online communities and friends, well, that would be a different story. I don't work on my own vehicle but I have educated myself to the point to know when they're pulling my leg. That's your best defense, IMHO.
I'm glad to hear your opinion~ I hope one day I will meet a woman mechanic!  But so far, I have never seen one, I didn't know they existed!  I mean, at a shop that is.  technically, I am a woman mechanic. :D  I just never have any luck with mechs... 

westywoman said:
Um, I don't think this is a woman vs. man thing. I have been taken to the cleaners by both. These vehicles require that we be very knowledgeable about them even if we don't work on them ourselves. If I only knew then with my first one what I know now, with the help of online communities and friends, well, that would be a different story. I don't work on my own vehicle but I have educated myself to the point to know when they're pulling my leg. That's your best defense, IMHO.

Hi ladies. Hope it's not a crime for a male to post here but I felt compelled to share my personal experiences with you. As the the owner of a VW repair shop for over 3 decades I had a total of 2 females turning wrenches for me.

The first one was a very ambitious and determined young lady at the age of 16. She was the only daughter in the family and had 5 brothers. She went by the name of Patches a moniker that stuck with her after an eye injury she suffered as a child. In her tomboy style of upbringing she became very mechanically inclined and knew a great deal more than many of the guys I had on the payroll. I was a little reluctant at hiring her at first but her persistence impressed me.

She was already familiar with VW's and had a nice Squareback that she put together, modified, and kept up herself. Her presence brought along a much needed breath of fresh air. The shop took on a higher level of organization and cleanliness. She was a big hit with our female patrons and was the consummate hard worker. I assigned her the lighter, routine stuff like tune ups and services. She did not do much diagnosing. Ultimately she went on to bigger and better things including going to an automotive trade school. She was one of the best employees I ever had. I wonder what ever became of her.



Later on I hired LC, short for Little Channing. She was named after her aunt. Although she was not very familiar with VW's, she could wrench on just about anything. LC was in her early twenties and was another hard working individual. She was not scared one bit to get a little grease under her fingernails and was often up to her elbows in it. She was more of a heavy repair type mechanic and was a little rough around the edges. Although she took instruction very well, she could get a little testy at times and was not real good talking with customers. It was real easy for her the tell the customer their brakes were "fucked up", it's just the way she talked. A bit of a potty mouth but everyone understood her. She worked for me for about a year but ended up making a move to Southern California.


Female mechanics are far and few inbetween, but they are out there.


Thanks, Greg! Great post and most welcome-we are glad to have your story. I'm going to date myself, but when I was in high school, I wasn't allowed to take automotive shop classes because I was girl. Now, they don't even offer vocational training in high school. So, who knows, is it the chicken or the egg?

Love this thread!

I know of 2 female Vw mechanics, one is in the Southern Cal/AZ crowd, although I think she is up in Washington somewhere. Apparantly a genious when it comes to fixin VWs. The other works at the shop I take my bus to, she is great. She works mostly on the newer VWs. And of course my friend Dawn, I think she knows VWs inside out.


I do my routine stuff, oil, valves, greasing points, adjust carburetor, tires. Have not bled brakes yet, don't have the little mechanism for that but will get/do sooner or later. I get my husband to turn the nuts and bolts I can't get. :-)


My husband has a story he tells people, about when I was about 12 months (!) pregnant w/ my son, my neighbors came by and caught me slightly under the back of my Karmann Ghia. I didn't trust the mechanics w/ my precious little oil pan nuts and screws and the valves on the car so I didi it myself even while prego. I wish I had a pic of that now, would be funny to see!


I think all people have been had by mechanics, but some of it is just bad luck. My mechanic has a saying, "Fixing a old VW is like doing heart surgery on a 100 year old man" Where do you stop fixing things!?!

I love these stories! Will let you know if I meet any when I drive across America again later this year. I keep forgetting the name of that list of VW people who come out to rescue you free of charge - anyone recall the name?


© 2024   Created by Big Blue's Driver.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service