LINO LAKES — Now that school is out and summer is here, more teens are on the road. But do they know how to check and add oil to the engine, install a spare tire or what a light on their dash means?
Paul Selbitschka, owner of Paul's Precision Tune Auto Care in Lino Lakes, is hoping they will know how to do all that and more after attending Cars 101 at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. Saturday, June 29.
While Lino Lakes resident Kelly Jo McDonnell was getting her car worked on, she told Selbitschka her 16-year-old son, Hayden Weiner, now has his driver's license. Not long ago, Weiner asked his mother about what a light on his dash meant and they had to look it up in the owner's manual.
“It really dawned on me …. I don't know much about cars. I have talked to other moms (especially single moms) who said they don't know how change a tire,” McDonnell explained. “I know for a fact none of Hayden's buddies know most of the Car 101 stuff. Why would they? Our generation is so used to being hands off and having folks do certain things.”
The thought of hosting a Car 101 class has crossed Selbitschka's mind before, but after a customer suggested it, he thought he better jump on it. He also thought it would be a good thing to coincide with a customer appreciation event, celebrating the business' 15th anniversary.
“My daughter is 16, and when she got her license, I took her out to the car and told her about the things she needed to check and this is how you do this. She obviously has a leg up being that I am her dad, but now her friends are starting to drive and ask her questions,” Selbitschka said. “When you go through driver's ed, they don't touch on any of that.”
Cars 101 will cover
• How to check and add oil to the engine.
• How to check antifreeze/coolant levels and add if needed.
• How to check and add power steering fluid.
• How to install a spare tire.
• How to jump start a car correctly.
• What all the lights on the dash mean and what to do if they come on.
• What type of fuel to put in a car and why.
“I have always felt that a well-informed and educated customer is a better customer. I am very big on preventative maintenance and being in touch with what your car is telling you,” Selbitschka said. “There is so much wrong information out there. You can Google anything now, and the first nine things you click on are probably incorrect. I'd rather get the correct information out to people.”
Although the course is great for teens, Selbitschka said it could also be helpful to single or divorced moms, a computer guru who has never opened the hood of a car or someone who was never taught the basics.
Selbitschka recalled one winter when a customer called from two miles down the road with a flat tire. The customer contacted AAA but was told it would be a four and a half hour wait in the middle of February when it was 20 below zero. “We ended up going down there to put a spare on and got the car up here,” he recalled.
The goal of the class, Selbitschka said is to keep motorists safe and educated. “I think a lot of the younger generation doesn't know what to do. Take away their internet access and they are kind of lost. If you take a road trip and you are somewhere where there isn't any internet and you get a flat tire, what are you going to do?” He added, “My hope is they are going to be a little better educated and better able to handle an emergency situation if it arises while they are out there driving.”
McDonnell said her son is already signed up for the class. “I think it's a good idea, and I think it should be mandatory. The kids are out there driving and most don't know the first thing about their cars,” she said. “If it was up to me, I'd make all the students take cooking, laundry, doing taxes and how to invest money classes too. These are all skills that help in real life …. Geometry isn't going to help anything if you car is acting up. Some basic knowledge and real life skills will help them be better equipped for life.”
Both the 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. sessions are limited to 20 spots. The cost for the class is $5/person. To register, call 651-784-1100. Every attendee will receive a free gift and food will also be served to celebrate 15 years in business.
Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.