Mechanic Shop Femme’s Guide to Car Ownership

Chaya Milchtein takes her decade of automotive knowledge and experience and packages it into one paperback book written with the average car owner in mind.

What You’ll Learn

Mechanic Shop Femme’s Guide to Car Ownership covers everything you wish your dad taught you. It explains things your mechanic tried to explain, but in a way that you can actually understand, and answers questions you probably didn’t even think to ask. It’s for US.


  • What you need to budget for when buying a car besides the car itself
  • How to figure out which car is best for your needs and budget
  • Where (and what) to research before going shopping
  • Drawbacks to buying a car entirely online
  • When leasing might be a good idea and when it’s just not right
  • Leasing pitfalls
  • Red and yellow flags when buying a car from a private seller
  • What to know before you visit the dealership
  • How to properly test drive and inspect a car before purchase
  • Negotiating and fees to watch out for
  • and so much more…


  • How to determine how much your car is worth
  • Pros and cons of selling your car to the dealership versus a private seller
  • What steps to take before you sell a car privately
  • How to create an online car sales listing that will deliver
  • Negotiating with a buyer
  • What to know about your car before trading it in at a dealership
  • and more!

Car Insurance

  • A breakdown of what makes up an insurance policy
  • Detailed explanations of liability, comprehensive, and collision coverages
  • How much car insurance you actually need
  • Insurance requirements when financing or leasing a car
  • How to save money on insurance without compromising coverage
  • When and why gap insurance may be needed

Extended Warranties

  • Who could benefit from an extended warranty
  • What to look for in a quality extended warranty
  • Things an extended warranty agreement won’t cover
  • Whether to buy an extended warranty from a dealership
  • Mechanical breakdown insurance as an alternative to extended warranties
  • When to skip an extended warranty
  • Why independent repair shops get a bad rap
  • Where the communication breakdown occurs at the mechanic
  • What the different types of repair shops are and their pros and cons
  • Right to Repair and your right to get your car repaired at the mechanic of your choice
  • Where to start looking for a repair shop
  • How to interview a mechanic
  • Questions to ask your mechanic when repairs are needed
  • How (and why) to say no to repairs when you’re being pressured
  • Mechanic Shop Etiquette: How you can be a great customer
  • How (and when) to review a mechanic shop

Preventive Maintenance

  • Why your owner’s manual is a critical part of car ownership
  • What’s the difference between preventive maintenance and an upsell
  • Why have a professional do your oil change
  • The difference between organic and synthetic oil
  • How to check your engine oil, coolant, tire pressure, etc.
  • What preventive maintenance you should do between visits to the mechanic
  • What’s the difference between a serviceable and non-serviceable transmission
  • Why an AC Recharge isn’t preventive maintenance
  • What’s coolant
  • If all cars have power steering fluid
  • What your engine and cabin air filters do and why you should replace them yourself
  • What your belts and hoses do
  • When to replace your belts and hoses
  • Why you shouldn’t wait to replace your timing belt
  • How skipping preventive maintenance can void your warranty
  • Headlight restoration: the dos and don’ts
  • When to replace your wiper blades
  • How to clean your battery terminals
  • Why paying attention to your car can save you loads of money
  • How to reset your maintenance required light


  • What parts make up the brake system
  • What happens when you press the brake pedal
  • What’s regenerative braking
  • Why brake fluid is the lifeblood of your brake system
  • What brake noises mean
  • Myth about replacing rotors
  • Why putting off brake repairs will quickly increase your bill


  • What tires are made of
  • When tires need to be replaced
  • Why you might need tires even though they’re not worn
  • How to find out when your tires were manufactured
  • Why tires get bubbles
  • When tire shaving should be considered
  • Why all/four-wheel drive cars need four identical tires
  • The penny and quarter test
  • How to find and understand a tire size
  • How to find the best tires for your needs and budget
  • Winter tires and who needs them
  • How to get the best deal on tires
  • Where to shop for tires
  • How to maintain your tires
  • All about your spare tire

Electric Cars

  • A brief history of electric cars
  • Myths about electric cars
  • Things to keep in mind before buying an electric vehicle
  • Range anxiety and the statistics to set your mind at ease
  • The impact of weather on EV range
  • Why planning ahead when buying an EV is critical
  • Questions to ask yourself before buying an EV
  • Why renting an EV might be a good first step
  • Electric vehicle maintenance requirements
  • Public charging station networks
  • Electric vehicle tax credits and incentives
  • How to extend the life of your EV battery
  • How to find community to ask questions


  • Why a hybrid car can be a great alternative to electric
  • History of hybrid vehicles
  • Why hybrids haven’t been popular
  • What’s a hybrid anyway
  • Cost to replace a hybrid battery
  • Downsides of buying a hybrid car
  • How to prevent catalytic converter theft
  • How to prevent your car from being stolen
  • What you should have in your emergency kit
  • A deep dive into the benefits of consulting your owner’s manual
  • Why download your car manufacturer’s app
  • Jumper cables versus a jump starter
  • How to prevent rust
  • Winter car care myths
  • How to make deicer at home
  • How to save money on gas
  • Why premium fuel is a waste of money for most cars
  • What your dash lights are actually trying to tell you
  • How to spot a car emergency
  • What to do if your check engine light starts flashing
  • Why your tire pressure light isn’t on for no reason
  • What to do if your car is overheating
  • What to do if your oil pressure light comes on
  • The difference between your oil pressure and maintenance required light
  • When to tow your car
  • What is defensive driving and the benefits of it
  • Why every car owner should have roadside assistance
  • When it’s time to let your older car go
  • and more…..

Reviews & Accolades

Hey, don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what reviewers think.

Auto Journalist Review

“Chaya is your friend who knows a ton about cars—the one who will teach you how to check your tires and put on jumper cables, and who will go with you to the dealership to make sure you aren’t getting scammed. Once you read this book, you’ll be that friend, too.”

Keith Barry,
Automotive Journalist
Critic Review

“Her first book reflects that ethos, and in 14 common-sense chapters, she breaks down the necessities… Affably written, Mechanic Shop Femme’s Guide to Car Ownership should find a large audience …especially among those traditionally left out of the car-buying and maintenance process.”

Susan Maguire,

Mechanic Review

“Mechanic Shop Femme’s Guide to Car Ownership provides a world of benefit, not only to novice vehicle purchasers but to seasoned ones as well. Chaya has covered car ownership from start to finish. To anyone that is hesitant to plunk down a few bucks for Chaya’s book, don’t be: it will be money well spent and can be passed on to others when you’re finished.”

Eric Carlson,
Master Hybrid Technician and owner of Grand Rapids Hybrids

About Chaya

Automotive educator, journalist, and social media influencer Chaya M. Milchtein is a queer woman who has spent the last decade deeply entrenched in the automotive industry.

car classes with chaya milchtein

Chaya Milchtein takes her decade of automotive knowledge and experience and packages it into one paperback book, written with the average car owner in mind. There’s no jargon, no BS, and no patronizing attitude. In Mechanic Shop Femme’s Guide to Car Ownership, you’ll learn how to buy, insure, maintain, and sell a car, along with deep dives into finding a mechanic, electric cars, emergencies, and more.

With over 790,000 followers across platforms, people look to Chaya to understand what products they need, which services are necessary, and everything else car-related. 

Chaya has made it her life’s mission to educate women and queer people about their cars. She’s dedicated her career to educating the average car owner, not automotive enthusiasts, about their cars – a career she found and built after aging out of the foster care system. She’s taught her popular car classes at libraries, universities, non-profits, and businesses, including John Jay Criminal College, BMO Bank, and Vanderbilt University. 

She unapologetically stands out in a crowd, flaunting her fashion sense while teaching about cars, traveling the world, and breaking all kinds of norms.