I first heard about this book when Patrice Banks was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast!
Here’s the link from the NPR archives:
I wanted to buy this book the minute I saw the podcast episode in my library.
I’m a bit biased, I think. Being the only child, my dad made sure that I was comfortable around cars from a very early age. Since he was an engineer, he wanted me to be as confident as possible with math and science, and anything related to it. Cars are complicated, don’t get me wrong, but being naturally curious, I learned quickly.
My dad taught me how to change the oil in our Volvo station wagon before I entered middle school. I also learned the essence of a gas and maintenance log, checking tire pressures, and having an emergency kit ready to go.
I also learned that my parents keep their cars for as long as possible. Our family only had/went through five cars by the time I graduated from college in 2011.
- White Volvo 240 station wagon, 1988-2016
- Gold/beige Saturn SL sedan, early 1990s
- Forest green Volvo S70 sedan, 1998-2011
- Gold/beige Ford Ranger truck, 2005-present
- Gold/beige Toyota Camry sedan, 2010-present
The only new cars my parents ever purchased, in my lifetime, were the Volvo station wagon, and possibly the Saturn sedan. Everything else was/has been used. I learned how to drive stick on the Ford Ranger when I was in high school, although the Saturn sedan was also a manual transmission. The Camry is my baby, whom I call “Sandy.”
I really appreciate Banks writing this type of guide. It’s important for everyone to know the basics about the car you drive, but especially women. Banks has said this book arose out of her own experiences, and shame, with being incredibly intimidated by mechanics, car repairs, dealerships, and more.
Although I was fortunate to have a wonderful dad who taught me many things about cars early on, I know many women aren’t so lucky. Even some men I know aren’t handy with their cars, and trust their mechanics to fix whatever is wrong.
Banks does a great job with breaking a car down into its basic components, and making everything less intimidating right off the bat. She founded Girls Auto Clinic as a series of workshops, where women were encouraged to bring their cars and be prepared to get their hands dirty. She’s learned from her mistakes, and tries hard to educate others. When she was younger, Banks found she was getting a new car every three-four years, dropping a ton of extra money on repairs because she was ignoring or was intimidated by routine maintenance, and zoning out when mechanics were explaining the work that was being done.
She encourages, implores women (and men) to learn the basics first, then to become very intimate with your vehicle, and to continue a similar relationship with every vehicle after that. Once you’re armed with knowledge, everything becomes easier.
Here are a few basics Banks encourages everyone to learn:
- How to pop and raise your vehicle’s hood
- What the lights on your dashboard or instrument panel mean
- How to check your tire pressure
- How to add air to your tires
- How to measure your tire tread
- How to check your fluids under the hood
- How to change a tire
- Finding and keeping a great PCT
Banks doesn’t encourage the common driver to change their own oil, although Al and I do that with our own cars. We know how, and the amount of money spent is a little less than the traditional oil change services.
The biggest tip to keep in mind: Beware of cheap car services. Oil changes aren’t normally $5.00 flat. Your car is a big part of your life – Don’t automatically spring for something cheap to save money.
Now that I’ve read the book, I plan to keep this in my glove box. It’s chock-full of valuable tips, tricks, diagrams, and recommendations.
I hope that she expands the Girls Auto Clinic across the country, too. It’s a valuable organization that empowers women in a male-dominated profession.
For more information, check out https://girlsautoclinic.com/.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂
This is awesome! Thank you for sharing!!
You’re so welcome! It’s such a cool, fascinating book!
What a great idea! I’m sure a lot of women have horror stories about dealing with mechanics or salespeople while buying cars. I know I do!
Same here. I feel a bit more confident about buying my next car now that I’ve read the book, haha!
Honestly, I got spoiled (after going through a couple of real clunker used cars & unscrupulous car-related employees) & purchased my last car brand-spankin’-new. I don’t know that I would buy another used vehicle. I feel there’s less to know about buying new, because you don’t have to worry about problems for a while.
If I were to buy a used vehicle, however, I’d read this book, bring a knowledgeable friend, & insist on having a mechanic look at it before considering the purchase. Oh, & check the asking price against Kelly Blue Book. LOL
But, that’s just useless knowledge from watching too many “used car” cases on court TV shows. 😀
I understand. After reading this book, she offers pros and cons about both new and used cars. I’m considering buying a more recent car, like a year or two old, instead of five.
Hmm. That would be helpful information. The high cost of new cars is a real sticking point, in my opinion, but it’s far less likely anything would go wrong for at least 5 years. I’m sure she has far more pros & cons, however.
I think that a slightly older car is a good way to go, especially if it’s after January when the car dealers are trying to move old stock to make way for the new year’s cars. The only concern there is that some of them are used as “test drive” vehicles & some drivers can be a bit hard on them.
I had a dealer try to sell me a “test drive” 2006 Honda (in 2006) for well over $3,000 more than a dealer down the road sold me a 2006 Honda. The former had over 1,500 miles on it, while the latter had 34 miles. They also wouldn’t talk to me directly, since I brought my Dad & (at the time) boyfriend. They’d only speak to the men!
We couldn’t get out of there fast enough. LOL
No wonder women are still intimidated by the car-buying process, given your experience from 2006. When I went in 2010, I asked my dad to go with me, but he let me do most of the talking.
It sounds like your experience in 2010 was better, so I hope we’re moving in the right direction!
My Dad & (ex) boyfriend let me do the talking while we were at the dealership too, but the salesperson wouldn’t speak to me. He directed his questions to the menfolk, which was a driving factor (besides him trying to overcharge me for a “tester” car) for us leaving without buying anything that day.
Still, when my Dad’s mechanic of over 25 years retired, he found a new one local to where we moved in 2002. They are the most fantastic group of people I’ve ever met. I expressed my distress about how mechanics/car salespeople treat women, & how much we appreciated that their garage didn’t talk down to us. He said he knew of mechanics who mistreated women, thinking they didn’t know any better, & he couldn’t do it – he imagined someone treating his wife so poorly & it made him mad.
We’ll never go to another mechanic (unless they retire or sell the business, of course)!
I love his way of thinking!
Agreed! We brought them coffee & doughnuts over the holidays. 🙂
That’s so sweet!
It’s funny that I’m getting around to reading this comment today – we just brought them more doughnuts & coffee today! Apparently, they had one guy walk off & one guy call off work today, so there were 2 guys at the shop who were swamped!!
Dad mentioned today is “National Doughnut Day,” then told me to pick up some for the guys who were working their tails off to get his – & other owners’ – car fixed. Dunkin’ Donuts was actually giving away free doughnuts!
I bought a “Box o’Joe” & they gave me a dozen doughnuts for free!! I gave them the money for the doughnuts as a tip. 🙂
I’m sorry they’ve been swamped! I’m sure they appreciated the free grub!
They sure did appreciate it! I’m pretty sure, with the way he looked at it, they appreciated the coffee a little more than the doughnuts! LOL 😀
Coffee is absolutely necessary sometimes!
I don’t even drink coffee (unless absolutely necessary; I prefer a diet soda every once in a while, but usually it’s just water, water, & more water) & I completely agree. 🙂
I drink at least 75 ounces of water per day.
Same! I’m not 100% sure how big my water bottle is, but I think it’s at least a gallon. Plus, you can put a frozen element in it, so I get a lot of compliments on it. I can’t remember where I got it, but I’d be lost without it! LOL
My friend made a great suggestion the other day – using frozen fruit as ice cubes. Have you ever heard of doing that?
I have heard of it, but never tried it. The only time I’ve seen it is my mom froze grapes to put in wine and other beverages. Delicious!
I don’t know why, but I thought about strawberries & raspberries. I’ll admit, I didn’t even think of grapes. Now that you mention it, I’m going to have to try that immediately!
My friend (a different one) mentioned to me putting maple syrup on frozen fruits & eating it like ice cream. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but it’s delicious. Highly recommend!
I like the maple syrup idea. Yum!
Do let me know if you decide to try it! 🙂
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