According to surveys and personal anecdotes on social media posts, mechanics have often been found to upcharge women on auto service. Whether it’s for “unnecessary repairs” or simply attaching higher price points for certain tasks, mechanics often see women as prime targets for a quick and easy buck.
It’s something that a Los Angeles-based TikToker named Saika (@saika_delic) said she experienced after bringing in her car for an oil change and seeing that the mechanic made service recommendations she believed were exorbitantly priced.
According to Saika, the auto repair shop attempted to charge her over $300 in labor, parts, taxes, and fees to swap out her cabin and engine air filters.
@saika_delic I’m Saika the mechanic today 🚘 🔧 Don’t get played out in these streets #carairfilter #cabinairfilter #airfilterchange #auto #mechanic #diyautorepair #mercedes #mercedesbenz #airfilter #diycarservice ♬ DND – Saika
“Um, you got me all the way messed up if you think I’m gonna pay over $300 just for you to change my air filter,” Saika says to start her video.
She explains that she recently went to get an oil change, which typically costs her about $180. However, she says her estimate suddenly went from $184 to $545.57. When she questioned the new price, she was told the change reflected the cost of changing her engine and cabin air filters.
Upon hearing the explanation, Saika told the mechanic only to change her oil. She decided to change the filters herself since it was “pretty simple to do,” based on what she’d heard. She says she found a YouTube tutorial and sourced the materials from AutoZone because the mechanic also “tried to jack up the price of the parts.”
The camera then cuts to Saika showing off her AutoZone haul.
“We got the cabin air filter and the regular air filter,” she says, showing off two STP products before tying her hair behind her head and readying herself to perform the air filter changes.
“OK, let’s get into it. We’re gonna be Saika the auto mechanic today.” The video then transitions to her looking into the open hood of her vehicle; a Mercedes-Benz badge can be seen emblazoned on the plastic engine block cover.
“Now, how do I get this cover off? Yikes,” she says as she feels around the cover with her hand. “OK, after viewing a video, I don’t actually have to take that off. That’s optional. I just gotta take this boy off,” she says, pointing to another plastic piece beside the engine block cover.
The piece Saika needed to take off was secured with screws that couldn’t be removed with her manual screwdriver, but she had a box of different drill bits and screwdriver head tips. After finding the correct bit, she realized the screw was “too tight to do by hand,” so she would need the power drill to remove it. However, since the drill was dead, she had to recharge it and wait until it had enough juice to complete the engine filter change.
So in the meantime, she decided to swap out the cabin air filter.
“Supposedly, [it’s] under here,” Saika says as she pulls back a section of flooring beneath the glove box. Doing so exposes wires and plastic cases, including a rectangular one designed to house the vehicle’s cabin air filter.
It appears to come off with relative ease, and Saika then uses a screwdriver to help her pry the filter from its plastic casing. Bits of dust and dirt fall off the old cabin air filter before the camera transitions to her using two hands to finally extricate it from its housing.
“Oh yeah, baby girl needs to be changed ’cause look at this one and look at the brand new one,” she says, comparing the cleanliness of the air filters.
It takes her a bit of finessing, but she’s able to get the new filter into the housing. With a bit of trial, error, and more finessing, she successfully latches the cabin air filter housing cover onto its plastic case, then places her floor and floor mat back in their original positions.
“This is for my girlies,” she says at the end of the video. “And my nails good,” she adds, showing off her hands to demonstrate that she didn’t crack or chip her nails in the process.
She also posted a follow-up video where, with her freshly charged drill, she was able to remove the screws holding the cover of the engine air filter.
@saika_delic #stitch with @saika_delic saved over $300, learned something new AND didn’t even mess up my nails. I’m feelin like a boss #diyautorepair #airfilterchange #airfilter #carairfilter #autoservice #formyladies ♬ DND – Saika
Like the cabin one, the old engine air filter was riddled with dust that puffed up after she tossed it to the ground. Initially, she was worried that the air filter she purchased wasn’t the same as the one she removed from her car, but upon opening the box, she was relieved to see it had the same dimensions.
“Wow, I’m really killing it today,” she says as she returns to the front of her car to drop in the new engine air filter.
Upon seeing the inside of the housing, however, she noticed it was extremely dusty, so she decided to get a compressed air canister from inside her home to clear the extra dust and dirt.
“The fact that they were gonna charge me $300 for this is beyond me,” she says as she finesses the engine air filter into the plastic casing. Once inside, she screws the filter cover back into place and closes the hood of her car.
“And we’re done. And that, ladies, is how you can save yourselves some money. For you men, too,” she concludes.
In the comments section, one viewer suggested that if she didn’t want to do the work herself in the future, Saika should try Valvoline, an automotive oil manufacturer that provides Instant Oil Change services.
“Girl if you go to Valvoline, they give you discounts through emails,” they wrote. “Especially during holidays. it’s usually 10-20% or $10 off.”
Another commenter thought the air filter change was not the only service Saika’s mechanic attempted to overcharge for.
“It should only cost $24 to get an air filter changed an oil change should never be that much either,” the viewer said.
A cabin air filter change should cost anywhere from $63-$85 for parts and labor, with engine air filters costing anywhere from $57-$73, according to RepairPal. On the higher end of those estimates, that still costs about half of what Saika was being quoted by the auto mechanic she initially brought her car to.