When it comes to car maintenance, having even a small bit of knowledge can go a long way. Whether you're learning how to change a tire in a pinch or when to diagnose the need for a fuel injection cleaning, this effort can pay off by saving you time and money. You don't even have to do all of the maintenance work yourself - simply learning the basics and common symptoms could have significant benefits.
The gender divide
A recent study from PEMCO Insurance examined how men and women approach vehicle maintenance and repairs. According to the research, most people - specifically those in the Northwest region of the U.S. - are familiar with basic auto repair tasks, but men tend to take on a bit more responsibility than women.
The survey found that about 74 percent of men have completed auto oil changes themselves, compared to only 30 percent of women. However, both groups know to at least check their oil, with 79 percent of women and 91 percent of men reporting that they monitor the fluid level.
"Gender shouldn't be a barrier to maintaining the car you drive," said Jon Osterberg, a PEMCO spokesperson. "Even if you prefer to hire roadside assistance for breakdowns, all drivers should know how to remedy basic disruptions like flat tires or dead batteries, so that you're not stranded in unsafe circumstances."
Regardless of how interested a driver is in learning some auto basics, he or she should know that having some knowledge is good for the wallet.
Seeking professional help
A 2013 report from Northwestern University found that there were some differences between how car repair shops treat men and women. The research noted that female drivers are often quoted higher price estimates than their male counterparts, according to the U.S. News & World Report. However, those women who sounded "well informed" often received price estimates that were similar to knowledgeable men.
While these results highlight the importance of being informed about car repair, it also emphasizes the need for an honest auto repair franchise. Finding the right local spot can put your mind at ease, as you'll know you're being charged a fair amount for any work that needs to be done. You can also build a relationship with the facility, which will make it easier for technicians to recognize problems and remind you of a maintenance schedule.