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Car Maintenance Every Woman Can Do

You’ve probably seen that joke doing the rounds about the male way of changing the oil versus the female way of changing the oil, where the guy does it himself – with the “help” of a crate of beer or so – while the woman just heads down to the local service station and enjoys a paper and a coffee while someone else does it for her.  This wee script is a good laugh, but it is, of course an exaggeration.  Women can and do car maintenance for themselves, so don’t let any jerk of a mechanic tell you that you can’t.  What’s more, if you know your way around the inside of a car, you’re less likely to be ripped off by said jerky mechanic who thinks “Here’s a woman who knows nothing about cars, so we’ll see what we can get away with telling her needs doing and charge her the earth for it.”

Any woman can benefit from knowing how to do a bit of basic car maintenance, ranging from the penny-pinching mother who wants to save a buck or so by doing everything she can rather than paying for somebody else to do it, through to a professional single woman who wants to prove to her male colleagues that she’s no dumb bimbo, not to mention the country women who are located miles from the nearest service station and don’t have much choice.  You’ve got good authority for working on your car, too.  Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II once trained as a mechanic when she was Princess Elizabeth during World War II (to set a good example to all the other women of England at the time), and a rumour is circulating that once, when the royal Daimler broke down, she had a rummage under the hood for herself, presumably having removed her white kid gloves first.

So what are the basic car maintenance tasks that every woman can do?  In a nutshell, you can do everything the guys can do – except that the average woman probably will find it a little harder to get a big Land Rover or other 4×4 up on the jack to get the tyre off.

  • Change the oil.  If you can unscrew a cap and pour a liquid from a bottle, you can do this one for yourself.
  • Top up the fluids.  Again, this is a case of checking levels, unscrewing lids and pouring the right liquids into the right places.  Not hard and doesn’t require brute strength.  All you have to do is remember to do it.
  • Changing the air filter.  Again, this isn’t hard to do – remembering to do it is the hard part.
  • Changing (and rotating) the tyres.  While getting a flattie in the rain and not knowing what to do turns you into a damsel in distress that might bring along a knight in shining armour on a white horse (probably a Mitsubishi Colt these days or a car with a horse in the logo if you’re very, very lucky), it also makes you vulnerable to jerks who might try claiming a form of compensation for helping you that you really don’t want to give.  You might still get offers of help even if you know what you’re doing, but a cheery “Cheers, mate; I’m all right, thanks,” is a lot more satisfying, and a firm grip on a hefty adjustable spanner is a good deterrent to potential marauders.  Practice changing the tyres by rotating them when you should.  To be on the safe side, limp to a moderately busy road when you pull over to change a flat tyre rather than doing it down an obscure side alley.

The thing that most people find hard about car maintenance is remembering to do it.  But if you’re already managing to schedule kids’ school trips, work deadlines, hairdresser appointments, pet vaccinations and a social life, you already have the systems in place for remembering it – it’s a case of scribbling in “oil change for Suzuki Swift” alongside “Damien’s birthday” or “Worm cats” on your calendar.