Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Review: Essential Car Care for Women

I was very pleased to see this new title, Essential Car Care for Women, from Seal Press; far too often, women are dismissed or ridiculed for not being knowledgeable about cars and their inner workings. I've watched as many female friends are outright lied to by mechanics who have no respect for the paying customer, regardless of gender.

The manual is a great first step for women who would like to be more knowledge, either for their own sake or who are tired of getting hassled by unprofessional mechanics. I do find the dichotomy this book presents frustrating ; by presenting a car care book for women, do we run the risk of feminizing products just for a genderized consumption? Do we think so little of women that we have to present a beginners guide, as though they couldn't read a more technical presentation of a car's engine? But on the flip side, it is essential that women know how to operate a car, in any type of situation and a beginner's guide, for some, is very helpful.

And this book delivers. The book is broken down into several sections; beginning with a beginner's guide to the guide and how it breaks down, car maintenance  when to call the mechanic, special conditions and buying and selling a car. The authors include lots of color photos that accompany step by step instructions on how to change a tire, dealing with an overheated engine, putting on snow chains and a checklist on what to check for when buying a car.

But as helpful as the book was, there were several comments that made me pause and eventually get angry. On page 17, the authors talk about keeping a watchful eye on fluid levels:

"Keeping a constant watch on your oil and coolant levels will help prevent these situations from happening. This is why our dads/boyfriends/brothers keep nagging us to do these seemingly unimportant little things. Now we know why there is actually a good reason why we should listen to them!"

Or on page 53, talking about tires:

"Having an underinflated tire shortens the life of the tire and means your car has to work harder. This ultimately uses more fuel unnecessarily-more money = less shopping!"

It's disheartening that the authors had to resort to cliches and stereotypes to get their points across. Because all men are fully equipped and knowledgeable about cars. And all women care about is having money to shop. They are lazy metaphors that soured my enthusiasm for this book.

I believe the book is worthwhile for anyone, regardless of gender, who want to start learning about cars, but would encourage new car enthusiast focus on the information provided.

(Photo credit: Seal Press/I received a review copy of this book, but all opinions are my own.)

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