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  • Stuart Ridley
    Business and Technology Journalist

    Stuart Ridley is the Smarter Business™ Print Editor and has covered trends in small business, tech and marketing for two decades

    Stuart Ridley
    Business and Technology Journalist

    Stuart Ridley is the Smarter Business™ Print Editor and has covered trends in small business, tech and marketing for two decades

    The winner of Smarter's Toyota competition loves empowering aussie women with lessons in car care and safer motoring.

    Brought to you by Toyota 

    “The relationship with your car is one of the most important you’ll have (apart from family),” says Eleni Mitakos, Boss Lady at Galmatic.

    “It takes you to work and job interviews; you’ll cry in it; you’ll be happy in it; it’ll keep you safe from the rain; you might kiss someone in it … or hope to. So you need to get to know it — and the kinder you are to it, the more it’ll give back.”

    Eleni and her team of six women have a healthy obsession with car maintenance and safety. In the last seven years they’ve changed thousands of tyres and hundreds of litres of oil while teaching other women to build strong relationships with their cars.

    Galmatic’s 30,000+ customers might typically start with very little idea about car maintenance, but within minutes they’re learning the ‘good old fashioned garage service’ the women-only workshops are famous for: popping the hood to check oil and coolant; getting hands-on with tyre irons; and “understanding the different sounds a car makes to show how it’s performing,” adds Eleni.

    Galmatic Elini Mitakos

    Hydromatic, galmatic

    Eleni Mitakos has been passionate about tinkering with and driving cars since buying her first vehicle as a teenager: a sporty 1950s coupé.

    “Unlike men, most women aren’t introduced to car culture as teenagers, so the majority of us drive around without much knowledge about our vehicles,” says Eleni. “You don’t have to be a mechanic, but you should know more about how your car works.”

    In 2007 she and a friend called Kirsty launched Galmatic — a one stop (work) shop for car care advice and safety tips that has already helped 30,000 women across Australia.

    What makes a car tick all the right boxes?

    Eleni was ecstatic about winning a new Toyota Corolla in Smarter’s recent competition with Toyota Fleet: “It’s fantastic! For seven years we’ve taught women about car maintenance on much older vehicles ... they deserve to find the dipstick in a new Corolla!”

    And while she’s happy to pose for a photoshoot at her local Toyota dealership, she’s eager to pop the bonnet to start getting familiar with the heart of her new car: “I want to see how it’s all put together — that’s the most exciting part,” she enthuses. “I know it’ll give us great fuel economy and be fun and safe to drive because I’ve already read the reviews — and the Toyota name is synonymous with reliability, affordability and value.”

    Every year, Galmatic helps thousands of Australian women work out what they really want in a car: “We make you do a big checklist of all the features you need or want before you even think about choosing a car,” explains Eleni. “You don’t want to get to a dealer and think ‘maybe I need a spoiler’, if it’s not on your list; or if airbags are important then a car without them isn’t worth looking at.”

    Eleni notes that for a car to be considered reliable it has to meet the following criteria:

    • It always starts
    • It’s safe to drive in the rain
    • Servicing is easy
    • It’s inexpensive to service or repair

    “When you’re choosing a car you’re looking for something that fits with your work and lifestyle,” she adds. “Quality is important, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. If there’s one thing you don’t compromise on, it is safety. Read reviews to learn which models have good reputations; and service history is especially important when you’re buying second hand. Finally, it needs to be comfortable — it has to feel good on long drives on the open road or short trips sitting in traffic. The better you know your car, the more confident you’ll feel behind the wheel.”

    Winning a Corolla is fantastic! For seven years we've taught women about car maintenance on much older vehicles... they deserve to find the dipstick in a new Corolla!

    - Elini Mitakos, Galmatic

    The new Toyota Corolla Levin SX Hatch

    “I and all of the Galmatic trainers spend so much time in our cars,” says Eleni Mitakos. “So I love that the Corolla is cute and zippy. It’s very responsive and drives really well.

    “The manual and sports modes make it fun to drive — they give a more interactive experience when driving on motorways or in the country — and it’s easy to go back to full auto for busy city driving. It’s also SO easy to park and it’s really fuel efficient.

    “Overall, the design is stylish, modern and compact, with enough room to sit comfortably, plus the Corolla has lots of storage for its size! We change thousands of tyres a year in our workshop, so it will be great to do it on a modern little car!”

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