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Would you fix your own car?

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  • #212110

    How much could you do?

    When I was younger my dad was an avid car repair fella. We didn’t have a lot of money but had a car that was needed to get to work and back. My dad was determined to repair all of it himself. Needless to say. I picked up a lot of knowledge from watching him and holding the spanners and such like.

    Fast forward to now.

    My OH is pretty useless with car repairs. His idea of a service is putting an air freshener in it. In fact, he asks me if his car starts to make a strange noise or rattle. Strange for a guy but I suppose he had interests in other areas. Not all guys are mechanically minded.

    But now my car has got a problem. Its leaking water from somewhere underneath. maybe a pipe is on its way out or something like that.
    because of all this know-how, I picked up from when I was young, I could maybe repair it or at least know if its something that a novice like me could do. What with youtube videos and such like. Most information is out there on the internet. In fact, I amaze some with my knowledge on this subject. Not that I talk about it but if the need arises then Rowena always gets asked. I mean at the very least I will know if its something that could be done with a run to the parts store to buy the pipe if it is just that.

    But and here’s the but. Because I’m a woman I almost feel that doing something like this is almost paramount to giving up all my feminity as I climb underneath to loosen a few screws and take a peek. Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have cared. But now I almost feel I am belittling myself or stepping far too deep into man territory

    Am I wrong thinking this? I know in this world we are all supposed to be equal. But for real some jobs are for men and some for women. Yes, you do get female car mechanics but not many.

    I mean I could always take it to the garage. But even if it’s just a pipe with the labour charges it’s going to amount to about 70 pounds or more for perhaps something that could be done for a quarter of that price.

    Would you if you were thinking you could repair it yourself? If it involved getting under the bonnet (or hood if your American) and getting the spanners out.


    Just wondered if it was just my own personal hang-ups?


    Im lucky that my husband is a very talented man….and he is a good mechanic.

    So Ive never really had to repair my own car but because Im nosey and he is a good teacher Ive watched and helped (passing spanners) so I know that if I had to I could change oil and filter, air filter at a push a fan belt but not a timing belt ( I know enough to know one tooth off and the car wont run) When cars had spark plugs I could change those too..

    Water pumps are tricky things get it wrong and you could seize the engine. But knowing whats wrong makes you a powerful woman when it comes to dealing with a garage..

    Not a mans world any longer and I actually think that basic car repairs or car knowledge should be included in the driving test. After all if we are driving the thing we should know the basics about keeping it running..


    My father was also mechanically inclined.  The military posts/bases have an auto hobby shop, where soldiers and their families can work on their cars.  He taught me how to change brake pads and shoes…and bleed the brakes.  (We had an older car which had front disc brakes and rear drum brakes.)  He also taught me how to top off the fluids, change the oil, and rotate/balance wheels.  He figured that these were basic car maintenance items on which I could save a lot of money doing myself once I moved out on my own.

    As it turned out, I married an excellent mechanic.  He’s an ASE-certified Master Medium/Heavy Duty Truck Technician, but also has some ASE certifications for auto body and repair.  I helped him with preparing his truck (and later my car) for paint.  He’s taught me a lot as well.  Mechanics in the US buy their own tools (the company doesn’t pay for them), so he had a bunch of pneumatic tools that he brought home when we needed to do car repairs. Because of that, we outfitted the garage with a large air compressor (no sense in buying everything electric).  When we divorced 15 years later, he left me a few necessary tools, but took the bulk with him…along with the air compressor…which was fine with me.

    I had always bought used cars.  I acquired a 1999 Avalon in 2008.  I purchased my very first new car in 2017, and it’s a hybrid.  I won’t even begin to try working on that!  I’m at an age/place now that I can afford to have someone else do the maintenance.  I just purchased a set of all-season tires online and had them sent to a shop to be installed (5/14).  On 5/16, I had a scheduled service in Denver, and the guy checking my tire tread asked me when I was going to change the tires out.  (WTF?!)  I told him that I had just put them on two days ago!  He proceeded to tell me that those were winter tires.  I said that they were most certainly not!  (I have winter tires on a different set of wheels.)  It took him about five minutes to look them up on Michelin’s web site, and he finally conceded that I was right.

    I knew there was something familiar about that guy.  It dawned on me when I returned home.  Shortly before selling my previous car, I took it in to a Jiffy Lube (a national oil change chain) for a regular oil change here in Colorado Springs.  He noticed the radiator had a leak, and that I should get it repaired right away.  He showed me the moisture at the top, and I said that I would take it to my regular mechanic.  He then proceeded to ask me why I would want to take it to the guy who didn’t notice the leak as opposed to the guy who did (him)…all while being flirtatious.  I told him that the leak was new, and it wasn’t leaking on the garage floor.  He didn’t realize that I knew old fluid turns white (like that on the mouth of the overflow tank).  At that time, I was shopping for a new car.  Knowing that I was soon going to put the old one up for sale, I decided to ask my usual mechanic to replace the radiator.

    I must have “sucker” tattooed on my forehead.


    My father was not very mechanically minded and very ‘ham fisted’. I was completely different and always wondering how things worked, although can be ham-fisted mself. I preferred theory rather than practice but, having a father who couldn’t, I learnt how to dissassemble and re-assemble things just to learn.

    With cars I can do things but hate to get my hands dirty. I did do some service in earlier times. With regard to water pumps I even remember finding a cracked top cover leaking (where the thermostat sits) and replacing it with a later part which I found in a scrapyard as the original part was no longer available at the dealer. It looked like it would fit even though the sensor connection was different. I just had to swop the sensor. That made me feel good! I too have a hybrid these days. I am technically trained (in other fields) but would not want to get too engrossed in that. Two engines under the bonnet! Too many sensors and feedbacks to the computers to understand, I think even for many car mechanics.  My suspicion is that they plug a computer in and do what it tells them. I have changed a wheel before but with my current one I think the flat tyre warning system even needs resetting at that point, although I got confused even reading the book. Luckily they tend to be reliable, but, for the uninitiated, hybrids can have very strange faults, although I suspect they are more down to the electronics and present with all newer cars of all types.

    I had a friend closeby, who has moved away. I miss her as she is very knowledgeable with cars. She always had hints and tips and was not shy of coming across if she saw me looking under the bonnet. I am the one who is technical in the family. Even both of my son and stepson know little about cars, although will try to tell me what is wrong or where to go. My son, although clever, went one stage further and only gets his hands dirty if really pushed, ie an emergency. I remember my stepson usually had friends to help. My OH is not technical at all, even having issues with computers.

    Thinking about it, I think things have changed. It’s not that it’s not feminine to work on cars, more that it’s too complex a task for anyone to do too much more than check / change the oil and other fluids. Even with Cassandra’s timing belt. It’s perhaps almost irrelevant to most now whether or not a car has one as, looking under the bonnet, I wouldn’t even know how to get to it, even knowing where it sits in the engine. In previous times, with male friends, when they changed the belt it was easy to see and although some parts often needed to be got out the way, fairly easy to change. Looking at my engine I would be very impressed with any man who could get to that point, or maybe even access the spark plugs as I think they are in there somewhere lol.

    Yes the garage does push things. I think they all do. They tend to accept now that they say things but I make my own mind up. I have, in recent years, always used main dealer. Not always the cheapest but I need high reliability which they usually provide, usually able to provide almost instant service in a sticky situation. With work, I used to travel all over, in all weathers so good service was essential.


    I don’t even own a car: let alone know how to fix one!

    Still, my dad is excellent with cars: as is my sister. They both have cars and both are mechanically aware. In fact, my dad’s car isn’t working: my dad has had to walk me home instead. It’s sod’s law that my dad’s car breaks down during lockdown.

    Anyhow, it is interesting to read that you all [mostly] are able to deal with car issues. I am clueless when it comes to cars! I know a lot about computers, but not cars. Plus, the fact that your fathers are/were good with cars is fitting. I definitely think mechanical matters are considered more of a man’s thing. However, there are most certainly many female car mechanics out there! Who needs a stereotype?

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by KitKatKitty.

    Hi,  .

    To lose your feminity  because you do guys work or have interests in, I quess for some women and males will look at me and say what the heck …. okay I,m a machinist both in Metal and timber, = wood . okay my Feminity is not in my look,s or how a guy would look at myself like most men do at other women. or have they forgot about the War years, .

    car,s  na  I prefer heavy truck ,s 4×4,s and tractors and gear like that  so have done welding  gas cutting and straighten front ends re welded  main and sub frames , redone rear ends – dif,s  gearbox,s and motor,s complete wiring and complety built 3  bus,s  and other gear,

    one job was in a yard and I was going to buy  a 15 ton truck  1000 $  so he said just one thing it needs a new piston  the bottom oil pan is off and the old piston is gone so no oil and no drive  okay , so I sat on the ground underneath put the new piston up the bore did all the work oiled up battery got it going and drove 15 miles over the hill,s ,,,oh just one miner detail no brake,s  no prob,s  done this a good few times so I,m used to it, later I striped it down and reworked the cab and did the paint job and relined in side so when done was just like new, checked every thing , and did many 100,s of miles   with two of our kids when we shifted house   fully laden a good few trips ,

    and I have done many others ,

    This is the thing  yes I can put my hand to most things and do it, ,I learnt how  or was told  bloody well get on and sort it out….why cant women do as good as men  fact is we can do better, advice get a manual get info ask the guy,s look up on the computer go to a book shop  what ever it takes  do it,  if you mess up  think about it and redo it till you get it,   truck gear box,s  yes get a host and lift it out  strip it down and with the info and spec,s  youll have fun learning  brake,s shoe,s or pad,s  no prob,s make sure you have the right gear for it socket,s  puller,s a heavy jack, and stands ,

    Some times they have couse,s for learning , the …How To… at a Poly Tech , or some thing like that. .

    Oh and by the way get a pair of overall,s or two l  roll your sleeves up and get muck on ya,

    I may not be hot on the way I write or spell or compose my writing  I am good at other hand,s on stuff,and muck up to my arm pit,s   my friends all know what I,m like and they are used to me,


    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by noeleena.

    My husband is a pretty good mechanic and builder in general, me not so much. My husband can fix the tractor or the mower and years ago when cars and trucks were simply made he always kept the vehicles running in tip top shape. The truck we have now is new and has loads of electronics that make it almost impossible to maintain on your own vehicle.


    When I was younger and cars were simpler I did do a spot of maintenance and of course my cars were older then as well so they always going wrong. Today cars are well made a pretty reliable, like most ladies I do not like getting hands dirty now or breaking nails, I hate it if a man has dirty hands and nails let alone a woman. I keep a pair of gloves in the car and something to put on the ground if I get stuck with a puncture but I have a sealer spray and a foot pump that will re-inflate the tyre in an emergency.


    Yes, cars are so much more complicated now. I can remember the time, (Listen to me like I’m old or something lol) When it was really basic. In fact, dads friend had a car. that had only 2 fuses in it. I think mine has 3 fuses boxes with maybe about 15 to 20 fuses in each. I only know where one of these boxes is and that’s because one of them had to be changed and I looked on youtube. But in saying that look what we have now compared to then. Automatic this and self adjusting that. Even mine tells me, Quite annoyingly I might add. That the passenger hasn’t put their seat belt on. However, it can also tell me that my handbag is too heavy. I put it on the passenger seat and it assumes its a person sitting there and just makes an annoying beep until I take it off.

    But regarding my car, I have taken it to a mechanic to at least see what it is that’s wrong. I couldn’t bring myself to look at it. I really would have felt like I was no longer being seen as feminine if I had done so. That sounds really stupid I know but as I said in my first post. I do think its man’s territory now. Somewhere I do not want to be in this day and age. I think even with how complicated they are some men would struggle.

    I actually like my status as being seen as the sex that looks after the house and provides a caring environment. Not the one that’s is up to her elbows in grease and cleaning my fingernails of oil. You can keep your feminism I like my box and have no wish to come out of it. I’m sorry, but I will not be throwing my dress to the floor and replacing it with a pair of overalls anytime soon. Not that I have anything against feminists but it’s not really how I would like to live my life. ( I’m sure if I say anymore on that subject it would be like opening a can of worms) If it’s a fuse ill fix it. If the water needs topping up ill top it up. If I need to change a tyre. Well, I could but that’s what I pay my yearly subscription to a breakdown service for. So I can make a call and they come and do it. but after that, I would like a fella to look at it. Maybe if I was Thirty years younger then perhaps it wouldn’t matter. But at my age I think I’m far to set in my ways and what men do and what woman do. particularly when it comes to the internal workings of the modern motor car.

    However what I picked up from my dad still comes in handy. At least I can have a rough estimate of what the problem is. So all that knowledge he bestowed on me hasn’t gone to waste.


    I know absolutely nothing about cars: I feel I’ve rather missed out there! LOL.


    [quote quote=212244] Even mine tells me, Quite annoyingly I might add. That the passenger hasn’t put their seat belt on. However, it can also tell me that my handbag is too heavy. I put it on the passenger seat and it assumes its a person sitting there and just makes an annoying beep until I take it off.

    Don’t I know that! I often had to carry equipment  at work and placing things on the passenger seat was useful. The one I have now has lane following which can usefully be turned off. I think it will be more useful on motorways and things on which you follow a lane for mile after mile rather than constant weaving (and hence warning beeps) to avoid potholes which is more typical. They could develop pothole detection which would be useful for night driving. More annoyingly it has collision avaoidance, which may be useful, but tends to beep falsely when negotiating a complex situation. It is very off-putting and I have yet to find a way of turning it off. It too may be more useful on the faster roads.


    My car is quite old now but from time to time I get audible warnings about things usually when I am driving and go into panic mode as the sun is shining on my speedo and cannot see the warnings lights that go with the sound. It is usually something minor that goes away when you turn the ignition off and back on again. Sometimes cars are just to overcomplicated for simple me.


    I know what you mean Mikki. Having worked with technology though I can relate that some very strange faults have come along with electronic equipment over the years that have confused even the experts. A common first step with a fault with a computer system is to turn it off, wait 10 seconds, then turn it back on again which resets it (hopefully). A car now is a computer system, which says it all.


    Well I have found out the problem.


    The radiator has a hole in it. It will have to be replaced.

    Yes, I could do that myself. But there is so much involved in cars of this day and age. for mine, I would have to take the front off to get to it practically. So yes I could do it in my dream world. I say dream as its a lot of work and I’m no spring chicken. Maybe if I had a garage and a couple of days to spare then I would roll my sleeves up but I have neither so it’s going to go off to get repaired. Serves me right for buying a car less than 10 years old lol.


    I had forgotton that from your original post. Keep a close eye on them. I hope it does not cost you too much.


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