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Gurnee event speakers offer women advice on buying, repairing car

Cupcakes by Stacie were offered to women attending Gurnee Mills' Chicks, Cars and 
Cupcakes event. (Sue Roberts)
Cupcakes by Stacie were offered to women attending Gurnee Mills' Chicks, Cars and Cupcakes event. (Sue Roberts)

Women-focused Web sites provide mostly fashion and beauty advice, but nothing about caring for their cars, says Jody DeVere, founder of, which champions women in the auto industry. Yet, she says 73 percent of women bring cars in for service, and 60 percent buy their own cars and tries.

 DeVere cited these statistics several dozen women at Chicks, Cars and Cupcakes, which recently was held at Gurnee Mills. The free event, held at the end of National Breast Cancer Awreneses Month in October, offered women information on responsible automobile purchasing and repair decisions.

Sue Malo, assistant vice president of business development at Great Lakes Credit Union, said she discussed the idea for the event with Michelle Rice, Gurnee Mills director of marketing, who offered the venue.  “Michelle went to Julie Scroggins, vice president of Waukegan Tire, and Julie invited Jody DeVere, who is on her board of women advisers, to be the keynote speaker," Malo said.

DeVere told the audience, and take note automobile sellers and repair services, women are  becoming more and more involved in caring for their cars and are more brand loyal than men.

She advised women to do their homework and look for automobile manufacturers that are female-friendly or employ women. "Read women bloggers and dealer reviews," she added.

DeVere also advised women to  always carry an air pressure gauge and, if the light goes on, get to a repair shop immediately. Plus, she said, “Keep a pair of old tennis shoes in the car in case you need to change a tire or walk to get assistance. 

Although short in stature and a female, Chris Parker, a 35-year veteran of the automobile business, serves as general manager of Bob Rohrman’s Gurnee Volkswagen.  She provided advice on making car choices.

If you plan to keep a car for more than four to five years,  you should purchase it either with cash or financing, she said.  If you'll keep a car for less than that time, you might want to consider leasing.  The idea works well especially for college graduates and first time car buyers, Parker said. “All you need is a diploma and a job letter, as well as being over 18 years old." Leasing provides an opportunity for lower payments for a short term depending on the terms of the agreement and when you lease, all the maintenance, like oil changes and tire rotations are included. 

 The price of a used car depends its age and its mileage.  Used vehicles should be certified pre-owned. These cars may have a transferable remaining manufacturer warranty. If there is none, Parker suggested, “You may want to secure an extended warranty.”  She added to obtain a Carfax, which details ownership, accidents and repairs. 

As Great Lakes Credit Union assistant vice president of consumer loans, Lisa Anderson advised women to “know what you can afford. Also consider the cost of insurance, maintenance and the kind of vehicle you want.”

She explained that used car values can be found in a variety of sources like NADA, the Kelley Blue Book and  “Find the MSRP [manufacturer's suggested retail price], which is based on the retail value for used cars and the value of the actual vehicle when considering trade-in vehicles. Go into a dealership informed. Shop around, compare lenders, and – if your credit is not great, consider a co-signer.” She added women should read the fine print on any special financing offer online. 

Anderson said women should know their credit scores and monitor credit reports reviewing them for fraud and inaccurate information. She noted that credit scores help lenders evaluate the likelihood of loan repayment and influence the rate of your car loan. “These scores range from 300 to 850, with the higher scores being better, and include bankruptcies, credit use, mortgages,” and other valuable credit spending information. The average score in Illinois is 696.”

Urging women not to max out credit card limits and to avoid excess credit applications, Anderson added, “Zero percent financing is not always the best option. Some forfeit rebates that could lower car payments. Read and understand all the terms before signing an agreement. Better yet, get pre-approved for a loan before you shop. It can provide you with additional bargaining power.” 

Noted expert on tires and wheels, Julie Scroggins, vice president and CFO of Waukegan Tire & Supply Company Inc. in Waukegan, also founded, dedicated to “Helping Educate & Empower Ladies on auto Safety.” She also contributes content to  

“Tires are an important part of auto safety,” said Scroggins. They are the point of contact between you and the road.”  As such, she urges every driver to “take five minutes a month to check your tires, including the spare. Under-inflation is a car’s No. 1 enemy. In fact, tires can lose one-half their air pressure and not appear flat. Potholes and other issues can throw tires out of alignment. Also check the tire tread. If tires are smooth or display high or low areas, take the car to a dealer.” 

Most importantly, Scroggins added, “Know what junk to keep in your trunk. These include locating and keeping a spare tire and the tools needed to change a tire.  Keep a small piece of wood in case you encounter a soft [road] shoulder, a blanket to kneel on, a flashlight and a pair of sneakers.” She also suggested investing in a jump box to ensure women can jump the car themselves. 

The last speaker, Janeé Ferrari from Liberty Mutual, spoke about auto safety and insurance issues. In addition to discussing how to lower insurance rates, she provided concrete advice on what to do in the event of an accident. The key messages were to “stay calm, make sure everyone is okay, call 911 if airbags are deployed or if anyone is hurt, and to contact the police. Without a police report, there is not proof if legal actions ensue. While you await police, exchange information, including insurance policies and carriers, names, phone numbers and addresses.  Also, record any witnesses who may have stopped and get their names and numbers. Then contact your insurance company in case they need to step in.”

Her final words cautioned the audience to avoid distracted driving – that includes not texting, talking on the phone or eating or drinking while in the car.  “In just two seconds, you are driving blind for the length of two football fields,” Ferrari said, adding, " If you feel tired, pull over and call a friend. It may make the difference of you making it home.”  

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