Basic Car Maintenance for Women

I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author Winona Kent. Today, Winona shares a successful and empowering repair job and her new release, Lost Time.

Here’s Winona!

The other day I did a little work on my car. No big deal, I hear you say. We all know how to top up the coolant and add oil and windshield washer fluid. Some of us know how to change a flat tire, though I’ve never actually had to put that theory into practice.

Decades ago, I took a course called Basic Car Maintenance for Women. To be fair, it was the 1980s. It really wouldn’t be called that today. The course was, however, incredibly useful and it accomplished one thing above everything else: it gave me the confidence to tackle tasks which I’d grown up believing I couldn’t—and shouldn’t—accomplish.

I was born in 1954. My mother had very firm ideas about what men’s and women’s roles were. Men went out to work. Women stayed home and cooked and did housework and had children and raised them. Husbands gave their wives housekeeping money and complained when those same wives spent some of that money on personal items and the chequing account went into the red. If something broke, a husband was expected to be a handyman and fix it. And if they couldn’t fix it, they paid for someone who could. Women, of course, were helpless.

Case in point: my driver’s side rear view mirror. I parked very close to a concrete pillar in a narrow stall, I was focused on checking for other cars behind me as I backed out, and I sheared the mirror off.

I really didn’t want to pay Acura dealership prices (labour, parts and paint) to replace it.

It seemed a simple fix. It was a simple fix. I went online and looked up what a replacement part would cost. I checked out YouTube to see if there were any instructional videos. There were.

I ordered the part and it arrived a few days later. I watched the video three more times and then went down to the parkade. I removed the old bits of the mirror. Super easy!

I went back upstairs and watched the video a fourth time. Then I went downstairs again, armed with an array of little tools, and proceeded to attach the new mirror. On the video, it took about five minutes. In reality, it took about half an hour to attach the electrical power/heat plug and screw the nuts to the four bolts and make sure they were all tight.

My installation was perfect. It cost me about $40 total for the new part. The housing for the mirror is black and my car is a light metallic tan colour. But the trim on the rest of the car is black and the mirror matches it so it looks very sporty. I won’t be painting it.

I told my mother (who is 95) what I’d done. She reacted as I thought she would. She was worried whether it would be “all right” – immediately assuming that because I was a woman, and not a proper mechanic, I was incapable of a) learning how to do it and b) performing the task at all. Mind you, she kept calling it a “lamp” instead of a “mirror” …so I really did have to forgive her ancient brain for being a bit foggy.

She also wanted to know why my husband couldn’t have fixed it instead of me. I reminded her, patiently, that my husband is not a handyman (he missed that requirement in the pre-req’s for spouseship when we got married). And that I really truly actually wanted to do it myself – I hadn’t even asked him.

I know it’s a small thing and women who are younger than me might think nothing of it (I’m 66), but I am rather proud of this accomplishment. And I owe much of it to the confidence I gained 40 years ago in Basic Car Maintenance for Women.


In 1974, top UK band Figgis Green was riding high in the charts with their blend of traditional Celtic ballads mixed with catchy, folky pop. One of their biggest fans was sixteen-year old Pippa Gladstone, who mysteriously vanished while she was on holiday with her parents in Spain in March that same year.

Now it’s 2018, and founding member Mandy Green has reunited the Figs for their last-ever Lost Time Tour. Her partner, Tony Figgis, passed away in 1995, so his place has been taken by their son, professional jazz guitarist (and amateur sleuth) Jason Davey.

As the band meets in a small village on the south coast of England for pre-tour rehearsals, Jason’s approached by Duncan Stopher, a diehard Figs fan, who brings him a photo of the band performing at the Wiltshire Folk Festival. Standing in the foreground is Pippa Gladstone. The only problem is the Wiltshire Folk Festival was held in August 1974, five months after Pippa disappeared. Duncan offers Jason a substantial sum of money to try and find out what really happened to the young woman, whose mother had her declared officially dead in 1981.

When Duncan is murdered, it becomes increasingly clear to Jason that his investigation into Pippa’s disappearance is not welcome, especially after he follows a series of clues which lead him straight back to the girl’s immediate family.

But nothing can prepare Jason for the truth about Pippa, which he discovers just as Figgis Green is about to take to the stage on opening night—with or without him.

Read the first two chapters here.


Where to find Winona…

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Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Notes on a Missing G-String (Book 1 in the series), I looked forward to this second installment. But I did wonder if Ms. Kent could possibly surpass the tension and pace of her previous work. I needn’t have worried. The storyline is an intriguing one filled with musical stage drama, subterfuge, crisp dialogue, and unexpected plot twists. I strongly recommend setting aside large uninterrupted blocks of time to read this unputdownable novel.