Jessica Chou Teaches Girls How to Fix Cars on Her YouTube Channel
Like many of us have probably experienced before, Jessica Chou was having a lot of trouble with her used car and was tired of not having the knowledge to understand how to fix it or even just know if she was being taken advantage of by a mechanic. So, she decided to do something about it.
“I started working on my car more out of need than interest. After college, I bought a 2003 VW Jetta off of Craigslist without knowing anything about cars. Needless to say, within two months, it started having problems. Every time my car broke down, I went through the same process — call my dad in a panic, get it towed to a mechanic, get ripped off, feel stupid. So I decided to learn a few things about my car!”
From there, she decided to start a YouTube channel to help teach other women and girls how to do basic car repairs.
“I’m not by any means a mechanic now. But now I know basic maintenance like checking levels (oil, brake fluid, wiper fluid, etc.), replacing air filters, checking fuses, replacing spark plugs (which I thought sounded difficult, but I assure you, it’s not!).”
With her can-do attitude and simple way of explaining things, Jessica’s videos make the intimidating task of fixing something on your car seem far more accessible.
Smart Girls chatted with Jessica over e-mail to see what inspired her to create the channel, how she got a booth at the LA Auto Show, and her advice for girls interested in learning more about car repair.
SG: Why did you decide to make a YouTube channel to share your knowledge?
JC: I can tell you the exact moment I decided to start my channel. I was outside working on my car and a man walked by. He looked at me very confused, and asked “What are you doing?” I told him I was fixing my spark plugs. He then asked, “By yourself?” And I proudly replied, “Yes! By myself!” I’ve never felt more empowered, and I knew I had to find a way to capture that feeling and share it with other girls. So I started my channel, Jessicann, to show girls that we CAN work on cars too!
SG: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through the process of starting the YouTube channel?
JC: I’m not sure if it’s because my channel is still small, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that there are actually nice and supportive people out there on the interwebs! I was a bit nervous in the beginning, thinking I would receive tons of comments on how girls can’t work on cars, how we’re not strong enough or smart enough, or just plain nasty comments. While there is some of that, I’ve received a ton of support from girls who also work on cars, girls who are excited to learn about cars now that they’ve seen my videos, guys who share helpful tips, and my favorite — dads excited to show their little girls my videos.
I learned that while it can be scary to put yourself out there, especially in a way that is a bit out of the norm, it is incredibly rewarding.
SG: You went to the LA Auto Show and had a female-dedicated space that looked pretty cool. Why did you decide to get a booth there?
JC: Never underestimate the power of a cold email. Right before the LA Auto Show, I had just started on this crazy journey. Unsure of what would come of it, I wrote a cold email to them explaining what I was doing and asking if I could help with a booth specifically catered to women. All of a sudden, I found myself with an 1,100 square foot space which I turned into the first-ever female-focused space at the LA Auto Show dedicated to educating women on car maintenance. I wanted to do this for several reasons. For starters, in doing some research, I found that 51% of driver’s license holders are women, over 50% of new cars are purchased by women, 65% of car repair customers are women, and 80% of car buying decisions are influenced by women. So yeah…I’d say we have a pretty good amount of influence in the auto industry. But these stats aside, having a booth at the LA Auto Show was important to me because I wanted people to get comfortable with the idea and visual of women working on cars. Not posing next to them…WORKING on them.
SG: Plenty of girls are interested in cars growing up. Why do you think we don’t see as many female mechanics?
JC: I think we don’t see as many female mechanics because the industry is still so heavily dominated by men. When we think of a mechanic, we think of men. When we see ads or posters of mechanics, we see men. When we see shows about cars, we see men. It will take a long time to change all of this, but in the 10 short months that I’ve been on this journey, I’ve met so many incredible people who are out to change the game. I’ve met female mechanics, I’ve met female drag racers, I’ve met a whole group of young girls enrolled in their high school’s mechanics program. It’s an intimidating field to get into, but so worthwhile, and so important when we talk about women empowerment and advancement.
SG: What would you say to women and girls who are intimidated by the prospect of working on cars?
JC: It doesn’t have to be intimidating! I called my channel Jessicann because literally…if I can do it, you can too. My goal is to make videos that are easy to understand and fun. You’ll never see me taking apart my engine or doing something super intricate. I’m all about the basics. Something as simple as cracking open your car manual (yes, ladies, your car comes with a manual for a reason…) is enough to make you feel empowered and more in control. I started working on my car because I was sick of feeling intimidated whenever I had to take her into the shop. But knowledge is power, and the more I learned, the less intimidated I felt.
You can follow Jessica’s journey and learn more about the basics of car repairs on her YouTube channel. Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your knowledge and passion with others!