Category Archives: women

Usually about women and for women

BBC Watchdog recommends Mini car checks

I have caught the BBC Watchdog programme a couple of times now and was surprised to see Mini in the docks both times. So many women drivers love this car and have paid a premium price to buy it. There is now a serious safety concern so they need to get their car checked to see if there are problems with the power steering system.

The problem affects petrol-engined Minis produced between 2001-07 although a modification was made in January 2005 which they claim has ‘virtually eradicated the problem’ but not completely I see.

BBC Watchdog showed driving examples of how the power assisted steering (PAS) could fail and how heavy the car steering would be afterwards. Yes I can vouch for that – I once owned a Porsche 924S without PAS and it was heavy to drive but by no means impossible or unsafe for that matter.

But the more worrying incident was if that same PAS system then overheated and caused a fire as several had done. It’ll be interesting to see how widespread this problem is as word spreads and more women drivers contact the Watchdog team.

If you have concerns as a result of reading this OR you have experienced a problem to do with your Mini’s steering OR have paid for a replacement power steering pump, you should contact Mini’s Customer Service line on 0800 777129.

Worryingly many motorists may then be told to pay to have their car checked. If that means main dealers rates that could be quite expensive and probably close to £100. Alternatively, you could join FOXY Lady Drivers Club for £20 per annum and claim free quarterly Car Fitness Checks carried out by some of the best and female friendly UK garages; this will allow you to keep an eye on this instance alongside other safety related items and your car’s CO2 motoring emissions.

No matter – get your car checked if you have a petrol Mini registered between 2001 to 2007 – what price your peace of mind.


What is a Car Club?

According to there are 42 UK car clubs, running in 37 towns and cities representing over 64,177 members using around 1,402 cars. This from a start of just 250 car club members in 2000.

I find the use of the term ‘car club’ very confusing because in my book, ‘car club’ has been stolen from the many classic and owners car clubs that have been in existence for 50+ years.

Now we have a situation where a ‘club’ that wants us to sell our cars and use theirs also wants to call themselves a car club!

I’d have imagined that these timeshare cum car rental businesses would have wanted their own generic name more in keeping with their green and ‘as and when’ credentials.

I run a car club for women drivers, FOXY Lady Drivers Club, and our members are entitled to a unique package of membership services that is worth considerably more than our annual subscription of £20 – these help them run safer, greener and more reliable cars for less money. Our female friendly club benefits are available across the UK, not just in 37 locations by the way.

Whilst I accept that there may be a good following for the timeshare cum rental principle within green-minded communities with a good public transport system, this simply doesn’t fit the bill in rural economies for example or for many other considerations I can relate to do with female drivers lifestyle, safety, mobility and/or driving confidence.

Which is presumably why, when asked ‘In the current economic climate, would you consider giving up your car and joining a car club instead to save money?’ in a recent survey, an overwhelming 68 per cent majority voted ‘No’.

Even so, I’d like to read more about this alleged moneysaving deal for Mums to use these timeshare cum rental schemes on a regular business commute, with multiple children in tow for school collections, caring for elderly relatives in the community and wanting to feel safe visiting friends at nights.


The important thing is not what they think of me, but what I think of them’
– Queen Victoria

Refresher driving courses for women

Last night I attended a local NWR (National Womens Register) meeting. The topic was ‘The Perfect Weekend’ and this encouraged fantasy destinations, fancied partners and much female frivolity.

I can’t remember how but at one stage the conversation veered from Tom Hanks (on a romantic Isle of Scilly no less) to the fantastic freedom that our cars give us, especially when going out on our own at nights and to get to evening get togethers like this one.

No it wasn’t a topic introduced by me as few know what I do but yes I was interested to hear what was said…

One of the ladies explained that her partner now did all the driving because she had lost her nerve recently, completely out of the blue. She had moved house and area and simply couldn’t cope with driving on unfamiliar roads… even though this is a rural area and the roads aren’t exactly overcrowded. She wasn’t sure what to do about this.

Another woman suggested, in fairly blunt terms, that she shouldn’t delay, she had to get on with it and overcome her fears otherwise she could be stranded in the middle of nowhere (we’re talking about a mid-Sussex village here with poor rural bus connections). She explained that this had happened to her sister who lived in Scotland; she was effectively stranded after her husband had died unexpectedly after doing all the driving for years.

Of course I made a few constructive suggestions, like taking a refresher driving course with a local instructor, investigating the IAM’s Skills for Life package or starting off with a few local journeys early in the morning, with a girl friend perhaps and when traffic would be light. I also mentioned the Driving Standards Agency’s Arrive Alive Classic presentation, knowing that this is designed for groups of drivers over 50 years old. I have often thought about organising one for ladies in this area.

But I don’t think that these are exactly what were required on this occasion and I wonder if there might be more that could be done to make women more confident drivers (this is a critical gender difference) recognising some significant female life-style factors.

For example, more women than ever live alone and get divorced. There are and will continue to be more elderly women drivers as today’s baby boomers age and replace older women drivers who were less likely to drive then. Chances are we will continue to live and want to drive for longer and women will outlive their male partners. We are often distracted by children, we do much of the local caring work and, when we are older, we are known for having minor accidents, often in car parks. I think this is all to do with a lack of concentration and perhaps this is caused by having our mind on too many things at once.

So how about some refresher driving courses for women drivers who feel the need? Rather than a 1:1 driving instruction which is a little intimidating for most women, perhaps an innovative, low cost, confidence building and fun way for females to refresh their motoring knowledge, become better drivers (where possible ahem) and maintain their freedom to carry out their community caring roles as safely as possible.

Perhaps an insurance company would sponsor FOXY Lady Drivers Club to organise these across the country? We could add in our road safety information and car maintenance advice for women when it comes to running safer, greener and more reliable cars.

And maybe we’d be able to enjoy the equivalent of PassPlus insurance discounts, gifted by participating insurance providers. Just a thought.


Women and UK garage services

A recent survey carried out by Experian looked at the perceived differences to do with garages and dealerships carrying out car servicing on new and used cars.

Whilst the survey didn’t say whether the sample included women drivers, the two most important concerns recorded were quality of workmanship and price/value for money which ties in with FOXY findings.

Sixty four per cent of used car owners would go to a local garage to get their car serviced, compared to just 23% of new car owners.

Meanwhile, just over half (51%) of new car owners would prefer to use the dealer they bought their car from, compared to 13% of used car owners.

Understandably the older the car the more budget conscious the motorist and perhaps some still question whether they can use an independent garage whilst their nearly new car is still under manufacturer warranty.

However a cheap price will be a false economy if corners have been cut although, at the opposite end of the perceived price scale, the new Motor Industry Service and Repair Code is actively albeit inadvertently promoting franchised dealers because so few independents have signed up to the minimum standard.

The perception is that franchised dealers are always more expensive than independents; most are but some aren’t depending on the job in hand.

On reflection the industry should do more to help motorists understand their garage choices because a recession is when women, in particular, are more likely to shop around for big ticket expenses like garage services. They are looking for a value for money formula calculating the likes of price, quality of workmanship, cleanliness, welcome and customer services.

In future years I imagine that women will factor in female friendly garages to their decision making, knowing that FOXY-listed businesses observe the female friendly FOXY Promise.