Stacey Schoneman of Lexington grew up racing and working in her parents’ business, C & S Truck and Salvage. Now she is a single mom, and she shares her unique experience and talents in automotive repair with other women in a class at the Orthman Community YMCA called Let’s Get Greasy: Automotive for Women.
Here are nine tips that Stacey said every woman should know about caring for and maintaining vehicles:
GET TO KNOW YOUR CAR. Know where things are located like the oil dipstick, spare tire and car jack. Get comfortable checking fluids by practicing every time you stop to fill up with gas. The better you know your vehicle, the better prepared you will be in the future.
KNOW HOW TO CHANGE A SPARE/FLAT TIRE. If you are stranded on the side of the road with a flat, you are in danger. Knowing where your spare tire is, how to get it out, and how to change it could save your life and the lives of those in the vehicle with you. (ONE TIP: Loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire while it is still on the ground. Gravity will help you leverage those hard to turn nuts right off. Once you have them all lose, then jack the car up. Replace the wheel and put the nuts on tightly by hand. Once all are as tight as possible by hand, set the car back down on the ground and again use gravity to your advantage.
KNOW WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY. The number one most dangerous spot in the world is the side of the road. With the distracted drivers, commuters in a hurry and people in a general rush to get from point A to point B, people do not move over for motorists stranded on the side of the road. According to the National Safety Council, 70.24 percent of all pedestrian-related injuries occur alongside the road. That percentage increases to 74 percent at night. So what do you do?
Look for the most ideal spot to pull over. If on the interstate, make an attempt to reach an off ramp. If there’s a bridge nearby, try to pull over and behind it and the guard rails. If neither of these is available, pull as far over to the side as you possibly can. Make sure you turn your hazard/warning flashers on, and if you have one, place a triangle warning kit around your car to make yourself more visible to drivers. These kits can be purchased at any parts store, Wal-Mart or Amazon. If you have older children or adults with you, they can also help look out for oncoming drivers. If you’ve got a flat, make sure you are in a safe enough environment to change it if you know how. Also, alert someone close to you that you’ve encountered a problem and let them know (as close as you can) about your location. (https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/road-users/pedestrians/)
YOUR CAR HAS A LIGHT ON! WHAT DOES IT MEAN? It’s hard to say, especially with the vague “Check Engine” light. You’ve got to take it into a shop, and you are wary about possibly getting charged too much for things you may or may not need. Do some research and gather information. Research online for local mechanic shops, and check their Google and Better Business Bureau Accreditations. Ask your friends and family. Don’t be afraid to price shop, which means asking for quotes from multiple shops for the same repairs to your vehicle. But, do beware; cheap work is not always good work, and good work is not always cheap. It’s a fine line, but with a little research, finding a good, trustworthy shop isn’t too hard. Most independent repair shops charge between $70-$90 per hour, and most dealerships charge between $80-$125 per hour. Don’t be afraid to ask your mechanic questions. You may have questions as to what this part is and why it needs to be replaced. Also, keep your maintenance records. It will help you to remember what work has been done to your vehicle and will serve as a reference for what the repair cost. If you ever sell your vehicle. It will give buyers confidence that the vehicle has been properly maintained, and they will have records to prove it.
KNOW WHERE YOUR OWNER’S MANUAL IS. Anything and everything you need to know about your vehicle is in there, from what the lights on the dash mean to what kind of antifreeze and oil you need to use (and how much.)
KNOW HOW TO PUT AIR INTO YOUR TIRES (OR TAKE IT OUT IF NECESSARY). Over and under-inflated tires can be dangerous and are an unnecessary road hazard. It says right on your tire how much air pressure should be in your tires. Make sure you have a good tire pressure gauge and know how to use it.
UNDERSTAND THAT DIFFERENT CARS HANDLE DIFFERENT WAYS. Some only use two wheels to push, some use all four. There are also two different variations of two-wheel drive vehicles; front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive uses the front wheels for traction, and rear wheel drive obviously uses the rear wheels. Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive cars will do best in the snow, although all-wheel-drive cars are not that great on ice. Knowing what type of wheel drive your vehicle is will help you better understand how it will handle in different weather conditions or on pavement or gravel roads.
KNOW YOUR BRAKING SYSTEM. Knowing your braking system can help you in extreme weather conditions. If you’ve lost traction and you are sliding toward something, here are a few steps to get your vehicle back in control: If you have a vehicle without ABS brakes, pump that brake pedal in and out. Keep pumping until you have gained control of the vehicle as it begins to stop sliding and regains traction. Try to keep the steering wheel as straight as you can. If your vehicle has ABS brakes, stomp on that pedal and hold it down. Again, knowing your vehicle comes into play here, and to find out whether you have ABS or non-ABS brakes, you can look in your owner’s manual.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, KNOW HOW TO JUMP A VEHICLE’S BATTERY AND HOW TO PROPERLY USE BATTERY CABLES. Remember: Red is positive, and black is negative. You should know how to hook a battery and how to correctly replace the clamps. It’s very easy, just a little overwhelming at first, especially with the cars running and fan blades turning. Don’t worry though, you’ve got this!