I wish I had had this book the day I decided to buy a car.
Thankfully I was lucky – the salesperson who took care of me was wonderful and helped me navigate through the entire process at my advantage, even telling me I had bargaining power and helping me decrease the price of the car. But things could have easily gone wrong, and I am (unfortunately) the exception and not the rule.
My luck also held in the couple of years since my big purchase; I have had (touching wood) no breakdowns or mysterious smoke coming out of anywhere. It’s a good thing, since I had nothing in lieu of an easy reference book to figure out what was going on. It’s probably a good thing that I now own this book, since I probably just jinxed myself with the above paragraphs.
Even if you aren’t a teenage girl – the main audience targeted – this book will come in handy if you don’t know much (if anything) about owning a car. The same applies if you already own a car and don’t know anything about how to maintain it – and it’s not because you haven’t had trouble yet that you aren’t going to have some in the future, trust me.
In the Driver’s Seat is also a great book for those of us who do know some things about owning a car but would like to consolidate our learnings into a cohesive whole that would come in handy when the tire punctures on a cold, rainy night. Because, as you would have it, tires never puncture on a warm sunny day. It’s a law of physics or something; punctures always happen during the worse kind of weather.
I’d recommend In the Driver’s Seat as a gift to any teenage girl thinking of purchasing her first of wheels. It would even be a great Christmas stocking stuffer (yup, it’s almost that time of the year again). Written in simple, layman terms yet not condescending, In the Driver’s Seat emphasizes the responsibility that comes with owning a car without making it seem impossible to master, which is exactly the kind of attitude a new car owner should have.
There are nine sections to the book, starting with what should be done before the purchase all the way to styling a car. We get a great overview of all the basics from what to look for in a car, how to make sure the car is good for you (including where to look for information on the car and assess future expenses), to the importance of reading the owner’s manual, even if you are in the habit of never reading those, to knowing you car’s anatomy, to stocking your car with must haves. Reading and following the basics presented in this surprisingly thin book (121 pages, 6 inches by 8 inches) will help you enjoy your car with a lot less stress.
I have the impression that this book is also going to be a great ice-breaker of sorts, making the world of mechanics a whole lot accessible to teenage girls and young women everywhere. Who knows – they might even consider buying a more complete book about cars after realising how relatively simple it all is.
There are a couple of slightly awkward attempts to be hip by referring to teenage culture, and I think future editions should just get rid of them all. But they aren’t that bad. However, the one thing that an adult or a teenager who doesn’t like that colour might not be able to get over is the overuse of the colour pink. Seriously – it’s everywhere. I would also have preferred a more gender neutral colour palette – green would have been a great colour, or purple. But if one can get over it, the wealth of information inside is definitely worth it. And if you can’t get over it, just cover it or something, then stick pictures of cars or just write Car Manual on it with a Sharpie. Preferably not a pink one.
Hopefully, I won’t have to prove the book’s usefulness by ever having to refer to it. But just in case, I’m going to stock my car up just like it recommends and keep it in my glove compartment.
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