Interview with Deanna Sclar of
"Auto Repair For Dummies"
Approved for Your BHPH loan before You Walk into the Car Dealership
What made you want to write "Auto Repair for Dummies"?
I was so impressed by the fact that by doing the basic maintenance
on your vehicle yourself you could
1.Save lots of money
2.Do your bit for the environment because a well-tuned car runs
more efficiently, which increases its fuel economy and decreases
air pollution. Also wanted to provide fuel-saving driving and
vehicle streamlining tips, data on recycling tires, batteries,
used oil and coolant, etc. And provide data on alternative fuels
and such alternative vehicles as hybrids and electric, natural
gas, biodiesels, etc.
Have you always had a passion for wanting to fix automobiles?
No. I've always loved cars since my parents bought their first
one when I was 7, but had no desire to fix them. In fact, I never
even drove until I was 25 and moved from NYC (where even if you
could survive the traffic it was impossible to find parking) to
California, where I had to drive the freeways to get to work.
I was worried that I was too ignorant to know if my vehicle was
about to break down or blow up so I took an evening adult ed auto
class, where I realized how easy it is to understand how vehicles
operate and fascinating it is to see how the various systems relate
to one another. Since it was a "hands-on" class, I found
that even "Thumbs Sclar (never had much faith in my manual
dexterity) could do basic maintenance and simple repairs, which
saved me lots of money, was good for the environment, made my
used car run better than ever and was extremely "empowering."
Besides "Auto Repair for Dummies" what other books
have you written?
"Buying a Car for Dummies" is the companion volume to
"Auto Repair for Dummies." The title is misleading (ah,
publishers....) because it covers everything one needs to know
about cars and money:
Buying new and used vehicles (with worksheets and checklists for
checking them out), selling your car, financing (leasing vs. owning),
warranties and guarantees, renting vehicles (you wouldn't believe
the opportunities to get ripped off!), insuring (finding the right
company and coverage, documenting accidents and getting satisfaction
on insurance claims, ), keeping the car from being stolen (and
yourself from being carjacked!), finding a good mechanic (and
communicating with them), and how to get satisfaction on any type
of complaint, etc. You can read the TOC on Amazon for more details.
I've written other books, including The Glove Compartment Guide,
and Housemates: A Practical Guide to Living with Other People,
but they are not currently available.
Do you plan on writing any more books in the future?
Yes, but probably not about cars, and definitely not another "Dummies"
book for reasons too sensitive to go into here.
According to autorepairfordummies.com
you didn't drive until you turned 25. Why is that?
As vehicles become more complex do you see a time when the
"do it yourself" auto mechanic will be obsolete?
No. There will always be basic maintenance to be done, troubleshooting
cuts time and labor costs with mechanics and prevents rip-offs,
and simple repairs will still be within the abilities of most
owners, and the ability to do a basic check-up of fluids, hoses,
belts, tires, leaks, etc. will still prevent what is currently
70% of the reasons you might break down on the road.
If you could own an car what vehicle would you want to own?
Right now, for aesthetic reasons, the "sexy Volvo" attracts
me and that high-priced Audi sports car makes me salivate. Both
are "pie in the sky" for economic reasons, and because
I've called for high-fuel economy vehicles since 1976 on over
700 radio and TV appearances, I bought a Prius in 2004 and will
continue to drive it. After close to 7 years I only have 13,500
miles on it because, as a writer who works from home I don't drive
much. But I did want to "put my money where my mouth is!"
I'm not up for electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids right now
because, for most of us, the only source of electricity comes
from plants fired by coal and petroleum. Once alternative sources
of electric energy are readily available I'll be very enthusiastic
about electric vehicles, but it ain't happened yet.
If you could fix any car in the world, which car would you
want to fix?
Don't want to fix any of them. I'm not a mechanic and most repairs
require specialized tools, perhaps a hoist, and mechanical and
electronic training. Do, please, make the distinction between
fixing cars and maintaining them. The title of "Auto Repair
for Dummies" is misleading. It should be "Autobiles
for Dummies" because it is not a repair manual. It is a basic
primer on how vehicles work and how to maintain them, troubleshoot,
and do simple repairs. Of course I suggested the title be changed
for the newest edition -- which, by the way, is the first "Green"
car book -- but, as usual, the publisher refused.
-Shane from Buy
Here Pay Here Car Lots