Car advice every woman should know

Car expert Jody DeVere of AskPatty.com became a single mom over night. She always had been interested in cars, but never knew much about the mechanics until her husband passed away. Now that Jody didn’t have someone to call on anymore, it became her job to make sure my car was tuned up and trouble-free.

Because she likes to take her kids out camping alone, Jodi knew that having a breakdown could be really dangerous. “I wanted to still be independent and to take them on adventures, so I started gaining knowledge about how to take care of my car. I learned how to change a tire and more about how the engine works. Not I always have jumper cables, and I always keep spare oil in the car.”

he also learned that if you properly maintain your car, you can make it last for a really long time.

How to Maintain Your Car to Make it Last

A car manufacturer has a very large staff of engineers who design vehicles to run optimally for a very long time if they are serviced regularly. Those services must be performed in the interval that they recommend to keep you safe and to keep you from breakdowns.

1.  Tires

Tires are the only separating you from the pavement, so it’s important to make sure they are in good condition. Ensure that your tires have good tread and are inflated properly, and if you live in an area with harsh winters, make sure you have all-weather tires. You can find out the correct tire pressure for your car on the inside panel of the driver’s door.

2.  Fluids

Get regular oil changes, of course. But also regularly check your wiper fluid, transmission fluid and brake fluid and make sure they are still good and new. All the fluids are usually labeled under the hood and have visible fill lines on their containers, making it even easier to check them. Anytime you get your car serviced, go ahead and ask them to top off or check your fluids.

3.  Windshield Wipers

Wipers that are not operating properly cause visual problems in rainy, foggy or snowy weather. Check them at least every six months because most of them are made out of rubber, and they do crack and rot. Changing windshield wipers is easier than you may think and can be done in less than 10 minutes.

4.  Brakes

Brakes are a very important safety feature of the car, so check them regularly and have them maintained. If you hear any noises when you’re braking, schedule an appointment with your mechanic. It may just be a little bit of moisture on your breaks, but it could be something more serious, and in matters of brakes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

5.  Owner’s Manual

Most people don’t read their owner’s manual when they buy a car, and then don’t know what to do if they get locked out or set off the alarm. Learn about your cars features and make a note of specific service intervals. You’ll save yourself a lot of angst if you do.

How to Avoid Being Ripped off by a Mechanic

You know where you’re getting your hair done. You know where you’re getting your nails done. You know where you’re taking your children to the doctor. So in my eyes, you also need to know where you’re going to be taking your car for a repair, or if you have an emergency. If you do that in advance of a car emergency, you can avoid putting yourself in a vulnerable position and avoid being ripped off.

1. Is the shop certified?

Is the shop that you’re taking it to ASE or AAA Certified? This means that they have certified master automotive technicians working there. Find out how many master technicians they have working there. If you choose to go to an independent shop instead, make sure that they have no marks against them with the Better Business Bureau.

2. Are they showing you the problems, instead of just telling you?

If you’re at a shop and they want to change your rotors or break pads, and you don’t think they need to be changed, they should be bringing those out and showing them to you. They should give you all the parts that they changed if you ask for them, so you can see that they are worn down.

3. Have you gone to the best place for your car?

If you bought your car from a dealership, that’s probably the best place to take it. You’ve already established a relationship with them, may have met the service team and they know the most about your new car. If you bought the car from a private owner and are taking it to an independent shop, then really make sure you understand the skill set at that shop. You want to make sure the persons that you’re working with are specialists in your vehicle make and with that problem.

How to Get a Great Deal in a Car Lot

A lot of women have a feeling that they’ll be taken advantage of by a car dealer. And that can be the case, if you don’t do your homework. There is so much information available to us, especially on the internet. You can actually find out the invoice cost that the dealer has and even what the incentives that are being offered on your vehicle.

1.  Pay attention to the contract you are signing

Don’t rush when reading the contract. It’s okay to take your time to make sure you understand it. For example, make sure you’re not paying for a 100,000 mile extended warranty because it’s a waste of money.

2.  Know your credit status.

You may be surprised to hear this, but dealers don’t make a lot of profit on new cars. They make their money on financing. This is where you have to do some research in advance. Go to your bank, run your own credit, understand what your credit score is and what you can qualify for in advance. That way, when the dealer gives you a financing offer, you’ll know whether you can talk them down or not.

3.  A car is the second biggest purchase that most people make, so make it a good one.

When considering a car, I think it’s very important to take a good test drive, and I’m not talking about driving around the block. Take it on the highway and see how it does. Rent the car for a week to get a feel for it. Really do a walk around, sit in the backseat, sit in the passenger’s seat, open up all the compartments, open the trunk, use all the latches, see how everything looks and get a good feel for it.

4.  You can avoid buyer’s remorse by simply taking some time to do your homework.

Go to a lot of dealers over a weekend or over a couple weeks and check out similar models. Go through the internet sales department before you even come into the dealership. You will save money working with the fleet manager, and you will save time because you will have done a number of steps before you get there. All of these factors will help you have an easy, comfortable and positive experience.

At the end of the day, it’s all about educating yourself, empowering yourself, and staying in touch with what’s important. It takes a little bit of effort, but the money you’ll save and the peace of mind you’ll have will make it all worth it.

Are you ready to educate yourself? Check out the following resources to get started.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

It Never Hurts to Ask
Visit AskPatty, the one-stop source for women to learn the ins and outs of car buying, safety and repair.

Perfect Match
Find your “car soulmate” at CarTango, a handy site that helps you decide what you should and could be driving.
The Car Chicks
AskPatty’s panel of auto-savvy ladies will help you find an answer to any car issue you may have.

Real women, real secrets for staying in shape

Real women on the street share their secrets and practical tricks for staying in shape.

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Breaking the Tape
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Whole Grain Nation
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The New Pyramid Plan
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What’s Quinoa?
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23 Ways About It
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Get Physical
Featuring personalized programs and support, Women Fitness shares healthy recipes and gives you access to the weight loss experts.

Conquering my D.I.Y. fears

Heidi was scared to death when she bought her first drill.

“I thought I was going to lose a hand,” she said.

A lot of women feel the same way about tools, probably because of that little voice in the back of our heads telling us that we can’t do it. That little voice that then becomes big and booming when the guys at the home improvement stores say, “Maybe you should hire someone. Let me show you to our contracting department.”

Having just bought her first home, Heidi was too financially strapped to hire the recommended contractors. She decided to take on the projects on her own and pushed out of her comfort zone a little more each time.

By thinking of D.I.Y. as a learning process, Heidi took a stab at bigger and more involved projects over time. She remembers the first time she hung crown molding in her home, and how the threat of death that comes with a nail gun had her on a ladder pounding in each little nail for days on end. The second time she hung crown molding, she rented a nail gun and was done in a day.

“Tools are scary, but they can also be your best friend,” she said. “Power tools let you do anything the biggest, burliest contractor can do.”

Here are some of Heidi’s favorites:

1. The Power Drill

“My introduction to the drill came when I worked on my kitchen cabinets,” she said. “After sanding, repainting and adding molding to the cabinets, I made holes with my drill and used it to attach new knobs. It was a little intimidating – it is shaped like a gun, you know – but after one hole, I was using it like an old pro.”

2. The Power Sander

“A lot of women are really into refinishing furniture, but you can’t get started without a sander,” said Heidi. “You do not want to sand by hand if you don’t have to. It’s just not worth it.”

3. The Reciprocating Saw

“This tool still scares me because you can cut through some pretty major stuff with it, like studs, wallboard and paneling,” she said. “But if you really think about it, it’s just like a carving knife. If you’ve carved a turkey, you can use a reciprocating saw. The saw shakes a little more than the turkey carver, but it’s just about the same thing.”

4. The Power Stapler

“I’m meeting more and more women who are interested in upholstering—myself included,” Heidi said. “What’s great about a power stapler is that it sinks the staples deeper than you’re going to be able to do it by hand, and it will enable you to have more cushion on whatever you’re upholstering. When you use a manual stapler or even a staple gun, your hand starts hurting pretty quickly and the staples never go in the right way.”

5. The Power Nailer

“The first time I put up crown molding, I used a regular hammer and nails. The second time, I used one of these puppies,” she said. “I did it in a third of the time, and it came out gorgeous. Also, because it sinks the nails in deeper, they are easier to hide.”

6. The Compound Miter Saw

“A compound miter saw is really the thing that helps you finish off a room,” said Heidi. “With it, you can create all the extra added touches like crown molding, baseboard molding and chair rail molding.”

For home improvement help that speaks your language, check out BeJane, a community where eager do-it-herselfers connect, share advice and empower one another to tackle home improvement projects—no husbands necessary.

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