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Boot camp teaches women how to care for cars

April 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Driving a car is one thing, but understanding what it takes to make it run is an entirely different matter.Gail Dunn of Women's Automotive Connection believes it's time women learn simple basics so they can handle more car care on their own and don't get taken advantage of when it comes to service. She holds bumper-to-bumper boot camps geared toward women, though men are welcome, too.

"It's sort of teaching you what all the lights mean on your dash, when to change your oil, what to do under the hood that you can take care of," she said.

What's considered top priority?

"Tires and brakes, tires and brakes, tires and brakes because it doesn't matter how well your car runs, if it doesn't stop, your problems are even bigger," Dunn said.

That includes checking your own tire pressure and treads. Other important things include inspecting levels for oil and power steering fluid.

It's also important to know your rights when it comes to repairs. One good tip is to ask for old parts back if they're being replaced.

"If they're asking for your old parts, one thing you're doing in that regard is you're ensuring they replace the parts because I've had clients who have had thermostats, for example, supposedly replaced and 100 miles down the road the car overheats because they didn't replace it. So it's a way to empower you to keep from being taken advantage of," Dunn said.

What about those lights on your dash?

"When the light comes on, the check engine light, it doesn't mean panic, it's not a panic light," Dunn said.

It's an indicator something is wrong and needs to be checked, and the same goes for the oil or battery light. It could be an easy fix, like replacing the battery, or a sign of a bigger issue that needs to be fixed.

Women say attending the classes leave them feeling empowered.


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