By Amy Antenora Editor
SAVANNAH, GA – During the annual winter meeting of the Car Care Council Women’s Board held last week in Savannah, GA, Van Kirk, of Kirk’s Auto Repair, told the board that today approximately 72 percent of his customers are female. This number is in line with industry statistics that show females are becoming more actively involved in vehicle maintenance for their households.
According to the 2004 “Vehicle Maintenance and the Female Motorist” report produced by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), roughly 89 percent of female motorists are at least somewhat involved in the decision making process for their vehicles’ maintenance and repairs. About 45 percent are solely responsible for this.
We asked several members of the Car Care Council Women’s Board how their habits compared to the numbers. We asked them: Who is the primary vehicle maintainer in their households, and how do they decide where to take their cars when it’s time for maintenance or repair?
Karen Dee, national program director for the Automotive Training Institute in Savage, MD, is passionate about keeping her car well-maintained.
“I love my car. Everybody is on me to get a new one,” joked Dee. “It’s a 93 Honda Civic and it has 265,000 miles on it. I just love it. It’s always gone to the dealership. However, the only reason it’s always gone to the dealership is because I know the technician there very well. I drive to Maryland from my home in West Virginia so that I can have him work on my car.”
However, for regular maintenance work, like oil changes, Dee says she’ll go anywhere locally.
Several of the women we spoke with, a few of whom asked to remain anonymous, say that they go strictly to the dealership, but were quick to point out that it’s because their vehicles are new and under warranty.
Margaret Beck, senior director of communications, for the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, is among those women who currently rely on the dealership for maintenance and repair.
“[I take it to] the dealership. I have a new Hyundai and it’s got a 100,000-mile warranty. It’s free if I take it to the dealer,” said Beck.
Again, this falls in line with stats reported by AAIA. In the “Vehicle Maintenance and the Female Motorist” report, 59 percent of the women surveyed said they take their vehicles to the dealer because their cars were under warranty. Believing dealerships were a reliable or trustworthy source came in second with 49 percent of the votes.
For the women we spoke with, being able to find a technician they could trust was of high importance, whether they go to the dealership or an independent facility.
Beck added that when she was married, she was the primary vehicle maintainer for both vehicles in her household. “When I was married, I was the primary [vehicle] maintainer. I would find a local shop, somebody that I trusted.”