Numbers show more women making own auto repairs

Most everyone has seen it before, a pair of legs protruding from under a car as a do-it-yourself mechanic makes a repair in the parking lot of parts store.
Aug. 14, 2011 - PRLog -- Most everyone has seen it before, a pair of legs protruding from under a car as a do-it-yourself mechanic makes a repair in the parking lot of parts store.

The legs sway back and forth as the person tugs on bolts that likely have not been touched in several years.

Such was the scene at a mechanics last week as patrons took note of a person, most likely a teenage boy they thought, reaching for tools working to replace a part on the underside of a 1990 Ford Probe.

Imagine their surprise when the car owner emerged, hands covered in grease and grime, to wipe the sweat off her face.

Elle Hart waited a week for a friend to swap out the starter on her car that had been sitting in the business' parking lot along Palm Coast Parkway. When that promise fell through, she decided to do it herself.

"The garage has been very good to me to let my car sit here that long," Hart said. "I thought, 'Let me get it out of here today.' "

Hart bought the car for $500 about a year ago. A new starter cost $117 and the store rebates $30 if the old starter is returned at the counter.

In order to dodge the cost of mechanic labor, Hart decided to make this repair herself. She was dropped off at the auto parts store with a large tool chest, a blanket and a cup of coffee.

This was no shade tree mechanic job. Hart worked in the sun in 90-plus degree heat.

"I'm doing it out of desperation, but I have worked my cars in the past," she said.

Over the years, the 39-year-old substance abuse counselor has replaced head gaskets, valve covers, water pumps and brakes. She has received no formal training.

"I buy illustrated manuals," she said. "I couldn't find one for a 1990 Ford Probe so I'm winging it a little bit.

"I have been given a lot of advice, for example, to be sure to disconnect the negative battery cable before I started doing anything with the starter."

According to, the number of do-it-yourself-ers, or DIYers for short, among women is on the rise. Females are now responsible for performing maintenance in one-third of all DIY households, according to the website, citing a report by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association.

"Since 1994, the percentage of DIY households with female DIYers has increased from 27 percent to 34 percent," says in a feature on the subject.

Jason Allen, Advance Auto Parts general manager, backs up those stats with the growing number of female customers in his store.

"I wasn't surprised at all," Allen said. "I don't stereotype females and males. We have tons of females who shop here and do just as much, if not more, work on their own cars."

It took Hart about 1 1/2 hours to remove the old starter from her car. One bolt was so difficult to remove, Hart said she had to use her foot to push on the wrench.

Once the defective part was extracted, it took Hart less than an hour to install the new starter.

Allen and his employees offered advice and would have assisted if Hart had needed more help.

"We are here to go above and beyond, do whatever we can, to help out our customers," he said. "If she asked, we would do the best we could do to help her in whatever way we could."

Hart is the consummate DIY mechanic.

"I don't think I'm like most women -- I like the challenge," she said. "I had to go into the parts store and ask them about it and found out I had to splice some wires to get the new starter in.

"I asked them, 'Will I be electrocuted?' And they told me, 'No, that shouldn't happen.' As long as I have no fear of being harmed, I'll try anything like this."

Hart, the counselor, teacher and go-getter, then offered these words of advice to women tempted to get their hands dirty.

"I would tell other women, 'Just do it,' " she said. "Don't be afraid. Fear is what keeps us from accomplishing anything."

Less than three hours after arriving at the parking lot, Hart was back on the road.

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Stephens Gaskets Ltd based in Oldbury, Birmingham manufactures Gaskets, Exhaust Gaskets, Cylinder Head Gaskets, Ring Shims, Precision Washers, Shims in Brass, Steel, CS4, Stainless Steel, Plastic, Copper and many others.
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