You Auto Know This!

At VroomGirls, we hate it when stereotypes get bandied about. Women are bad drivers. Women don’t know anything about cars. Well ladies, we are GREAT drivers, and as for the latter, there’s something we can do about that. Let’s all learn just a little bit about our cars. It’s easy. Give it a try.

By Holly Reich

As the owner of Great Bear Auto Repair and Auto Body Shop in Flushing, New York and founder of, Audra Fordin doesn’t believe in mincing words.
When we asked her how it’s like to be a woman in the automotive business, she quipped, “It’s just like being a man! At least, that’s my perspective. I get questioned from time to time, but once they smell a little motor oil on my breath, we get down to business with no problems.”
Fordin, who bought the shop from her father fifteen years ago, is continuing a long tradition. Great Bear has been a family business since 1933. And we just love it that a woman is the boss at this repair shop.

It’s obvious that Fordin knows her stuff. On a recent edition of AutoLab, a radio show based out of NYC that Fordin frequents, a listener called in about his car’s faulty electrical system. The novice was trying to fix the problem himself. She was quick to offer, “If you needed heart surgery, would you go to an expert or do it yourself? The same goes for your vehicle.”

We asked the business woman and mother of three young kids, who signs her emails “Mechanically yours,” some questions:

What are 5 questions that people ask most about their cars?

I’ve been in the business since I was a kid, and I’ve heard it all. The most asked: Why is my car making that sound? Did I pay too much for that repair? How do I know if there’s enough pressure in my tires? Did I even need that repair? Is it hard to change a tire?

How can we learn more about our vehicles without getting under the hood?

The first way is to have an understanding of the basics for your ride. Every car is different, that is why every car comes with its own manual with the specific language or dialect the fits your vehicle’s year, make, and model. I equate it to learning a different dialect. Once you learn to speak the same language as your car’s manual, you can be in control.

Reading a manual? Ugh!

If you want to be empowered, the manual is the way to go! You don’t have to read it page-by-page; just thumb through it. Most of your questions can be answered with a few flips of the pages. Sure, there’s a lot that’s not relevant, but you only need to find your specific problem.

What about minor repairs?

The manual lists repairs that can be taken care of by you. There are instructions for small problems like fuses, bulbs, or wipers in the book. But watch out, the stuff that’s more complex can lead to trouble. If you screw up with a fuse, put in the wrong head light, or put your wiper blades on backwards, you are not going to blow up your car. When it comes to something more intense, go to an expert.

So, what’s the best way to find a trustworthy mechanic?

If you’ve done your homework with the vehicle’s manual, it will be to your benefit. Walk into a mechanic with confidence. Let them know that you’ve paid attention to where the issue seems to be coming from or when it’s happening. Knowing that an owner is really in tune with their vehicle will freak out the shady mechanics. They don’t want a problem when they hand you the bill. If you walk into a shop and they don’t want to hear your thought process, that’s not the place for you!

Does women’s intuition work in this situation?

Yes. You can trust your instincts as far as feeling comfortable in an environment. But know that every body shop has different ways of practicing. For instance, you’ll want to know beforehand if there is a consultation charge or if they will give you a free appraisal. Think about it like dropping your computer off at a repair shop. You want to know upfront if there’s a fee for finding the problem.

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One Response to “You Auto Know This!”

  1. Judith Zawojewski says:

    Wheeling Auto Center is TERRIFIC! Talk about respect for women, clear explanations about work to be done, about helping one when on the road out of town to decide whether or not a car ailment needs immediate attention or to wait until one returns to the Chicago area, who doesn’t charge regular customers when you bring the car in for a complaint that turns out to be nothing, and the respect for women–I have to say again is the BIGGEST factor I go there. Wheeling Auto Center, 2430 E. Hintz Rd, Arlington Heights, IL (847) 259-3776

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