If you’re anything like me, you lack the most basic information regarding cars, especially yours. Growing up in a single-parent household did not help because I had no one to teach me. Since cars are how we get from point A to point B, knowing about their parts and functions can be imperative. For example, what do you do if a symbol on your dash signals that your tire pressure is low? And if the unthinkable happens where you get a flat tire? Would you put on your hazard lights?
The stigma surrounding women learning about vehicles of any kind can be why so many of us don’t. And yes, while I don’t find the subject fascinating, I feel it is necessary to learn more in order to become a self-sufficient adult. As a college-educated woman, I can balance a checkbook, cook myself dinner and pay my bills on time. So why does the thought of changing my own tire scare me so much?
Having a twin-brother growing up only made the divide that much more apparent to me. He was taught how to change a tire and drive a stick-shift while I was consistently put in the passenger seat. Men do like their cars…. and we can only look under the hood if we look like Megan Fox.
For me especially, I only notice anything is wrong with my car when a symbol lights up on my dash. Yet, I seldom know what they mean, so here is a helpful list. While some symbols are the same throughout all models, there may be differences between the symbols that can prove to be very important. Although, you should routinely check your car. ‘Dad, How do I?’ is a YouTube channel run by Rob Kenney, who wants to teach people around the country how to do tasks that a father might ordinarily teach you. Luckily, there are videos on checking your car for anomalies.
Now comes the dreaded flat tire. It’s a situation almost every experienced driver has experienced. But many don’t know what to do ahead of time. You’re not the only one, I promise. But that is why people created AAA, and thankfully they did for people like me. But if you don’t have AAA, there are people out there who have taken the time to teach us! Many articles mention securing the vehicle by moving to flat ground, prying the wheel cover off and jacking the car up six inches, and changing the tire. While simplified, the hope is that it will help.
Another common mishap is regarding your car’s oil. Around every six months, you are supposed to go and get it changed, which is usually the easiest way to do it, but if you notice a leak under your car, you should do it sooner. Most cars have a sticker in the top left corner of your windshield that will give you two pieces of information: a gas mileage or a date. The gas mileage is the estimate of when you should get it checked. However, if you don’t regularly think about your oil change, it doesn’t hurt to put in your planner or phone the date because it will give you a plan to follow.
Jumping a car is a vital tool for both you or anyone you may come across. You’ll see this more often than not in a parking lot with peoples’ heads under their car hoods. Due to this, you should always keep a pair of jumper cables in your car. Relatively inexpensive, you can find a pair in most auto shops or on Amazon for around $20.
Gender bias within the automotive industry is impossible to ignore. There are more female drivers than men—there are 1.4 million more licensed women than men. Yet, men are charged $15,000 more for car insurance on average over their lives. The reason cited for that disparity is because more men are charged with DUI’s and reckless driving incidents than women are. I can’t help but wonder why men are, on average, more daring in their four-wheeled escapades than we are.
Women have done the same thing throughout the country over the last few decades. According to Auto Mechanics School, in 2013, two percent of mechanics were women. However, that is a considerable jump from 1989, where only 6,000 out of 880,000 mechanics were women.
These are only the most essential things you should know about your car. But this is a good starting point. Who knows, you may find that you like car mechanics or gain a new understanding of yourself now that you’ve learned one more thing in an overly masculine world.