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Many people believe that the only way to have an enjoyable car is by getting it brand-new from a dealership or by spending a lot on maintenance and upkeep, which are both options that many might not see as practical. And unfortunately, this is common thinking amongst many women. I wish I could get on national television and yell, “this is so wrong!”
It’s true, owning a vehicle you’re proud of requires more care and maintenance, but that doesn’t mean that you should see high-value cars as money pits. Instead of wasting money at your local dealership for maintenance, why not try to learn how to do some of it yourself? Even the simplest of maintenance work like changing your oil can save you tons of money if you do it at home.
Some women don’t have the time or energy to learn how to work on their own car or have the confidence to work on a vehicle because of the liability involved. However, what would you do if you break down in the middle of nowhere with no reception? Could you change a tire by yourself? If your car was overheating, would you know that you’re probably having a coolant problem? Emergency situations still require you to have some sort of knowledge about what’s going on under the hood. So why would you wait until it’s too late?
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I have a deep love and respect for cars that started at 16 when my dad taught me how to drive his little 4-cylinder manual transmission Honda Civic. And while that doesn’t sound like a big deal, it is. I was a young Asian female who barely got her license, meaning the “bad Asian driver” and “bad female driver” stereotypes were both counted against me. Having to constantly break these barriers and prove this assumption wrong has always been a recurring theme throughout my life.
I used to work at a car dealership – more so, I worked in the service department. I was the front line of dealing with customers over the phone and had to explain to people things about their car that not even they understood. This usually meant having to diffuse panic in uninformed female customers and also deal with asshole men who refused to speak to me simply because I was a woman.
Aside from receiving this verbal abuse, my male coworkers also didn’t believe my interest in cars. When I’d tell them about the cars I liked or what we had in our garage, they wouldn’t believe me. Some guys even went to the extent to quiz me about my knowledge on motors and specifications, and if I didn’t answer correctly they would slap that “you-don’t-know-anything” remark in my face. Some of them even had the nerve to say I pretended to like cars only to attract men because apparently women who like cars are practically unicorns.
It’s funny how whenever a woman is knowledgeable in a male-dominated hobby or field, she’s discredited and her ulterior motive always appears to have something to do with sexuality. That’s all we are perceived to be: sexual objects. Why is it that many men feel so threatened when women are on equal footing? Is it because they realize that aside from having boobs, a butt and a vagina, we also have… gasp, a brain?!
Maybe it’s a masculine thing that’s been hard-wired into culture over time, but why is it that men take more interest in cars and motors over women, and women can only like things like shoes and makeup? I love both, but the stereotype that women should spend all of their time on beautification is such a demoralizing and anti-feminist mindset that really needs to end.
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Because of this widely accepted culture, all too often women are bullied into paying for overpriced services at repair shops and dealerships. Mechanics take advantage of this ignorance and prey on women’s wallets by scaring them with big words and feeding them nightmare scenarios of what would happen to their car, should they decline the recommended services.
When I was 18 and much-less informed, I took my mom’s Prius to the local Toyota dealership for a simple oil change, where I was then told upon inspection that I needed 4 brand-new tires because my tire tread was “dangerously low.” The price was $250 per tire, a total of $1,000 for a full set, but I was afraid that my mom would see the tire recommendation on the bill and kill me for wearing her tires down so low.
Around that time I was only working 8 hours a week as a part-time tutor, and I only had a credit card that would be able to cover that $1,000 bill. I told myself I was being responsible and that car maintenance was just another stepping stone into adulthood, so I bought all four tires and charged it to my credit card.
When I got home, my dad noticed the new tires and was upset that I was bullied into buying them because he had just checked the tires a week ago and said they still had a good 6-8 months worth of driving. And I couldn’t just return the tires since I already drove on them. So I made my $200 credit card payments every month for 5 months.
After this incident, I decided to learn more about cars so I wouldn’t be taken advantage of again. I started driving stick-shift at all times and picked up driving and maintenance tips from my male friends. Then at 22 when I started dating Jun he taught me more and started making me work on my own car.
By learning hands-on I feel much more self-sufficient and confident to drive alone with no fear of being stranded. I don’t get taken advantage of at automotive shops anymore because all my maintenance is done in my own garage (and even if I had to go to a shop, I don’t get ripped off because I know the lies and underhanded tactics salespeople use).
But the best thing about it all? I’ve become a strong, knowledgeable and confident woman who can take care of a high-maintenance car without needing a man to do it for me. I think that type of confidence and independence is pretty sexy if you ask me, and much sexier than the average woman who runs to a man to fix her problems because she’s too complacent to do it herself.
Women are conditioned to rely on men for everything. Although it’s great to have your own personal knight in shining armor, being able to handle your own business is a trait that all women should adapt. Learning more about car maintenance and automotive mechanics not only allows you to avoid deceitful tactics and save money, but it’ll empower you to be a one-woman show who won’t crumble without help – this is the most valuable lesson as a woman living in a male-dominated world.
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