Workshop gives women tips on auto maintenance

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Before Tuesday night, Brookhaven’s Cardella Cameron had only oneway of dealing with car trouble – calling her brother-in-law.

But after attending Powder Puff Night at Gene’s Tire Center, atwo-hour women-only car care workshop, she’s ready to be her ownmechanic.

“I can do it now,” Cameron said. “I learned a whole lot aboutvehicles today.”

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Cameron and 165 other women divided into groups and toured thefacility at Powder Puff Night, soaking up information on all thingsvehicular from neatly dressed dealers and gruff mechanics. Theycrowded around open hoods and lifted cars while the hostsdemonstrated all the car care basics, like checking oil, tirepressure and brake wear.

Cameron was overjoyed to hear that every vehicle has a stickerinside the rear door that lists the requirements for size and tirepressure. She said she would begin following thoseinstructions.

“I didn’t know how much to put – I just eyeballed it,” shesaid.

Hers was the knowledge store manager Andy Brown aimed to bestowto women, who he said were the primary care givers forvehicles.

“Studies show that 82 percent of vehicle maintenance decisionsinvolve women,” he said. “Women come into the shop more often thanmen. A lot of times, the men are working and the wife is who bringsthe vehicle in. The more they learn, the more informed they are tomake those decisions.”

And the women of Lincoln and surrounding counties were ready tolearn Tuesday night.

Powder Puff Night was the first not such event hosted at theseven Gene’s Tire Center locations, but it was by far the bestattended.

Employees estimated as many as 120 women were in attendance, andmore than 200 initially signed up. When the last women’s event washeld at the Brookhaven store eight years ago, Brown said 11 womenshowed up.

“I’m sure the economy has something to do with it,” he said ofthe large turnout. “It has affected our business. People are tryingto avoid buying a new vehicle, and they want theirs to lastlonger.”

Gene’s Tire Center owner Gene Brown said his stores are havingtheir best year ever, as vehicle owners strive to make their wheelsturn longer. After 40 years of hosting car care clinics, he said hehas never seen a turnout like he had Tuesday night.

“More people are interested in what they need to do to savemoney,” he said. “Any time there’s a problem you have to workharder. If you sit around and cry about it, it ain’t gonna getbetter.”

East Lincoln’s Kristi Adams attended the clinic to learn moreabout her car so she would know more about what mechanics do to fixit. Her idea of saving money ends at the garage.

“When I take it into the shop, I won’t feel like I’m gettingripped off,” she said.

Others came to the clinic with an eye for safety. West Lincoln’sAmy Hodges brought her daughter – Lauren Rials, who recently turned16 – to the event to learn from the pros.

“I figured there was a lot parents forget to tell their kids asfar as what to look for,” she said. “If you’re broken down on theside of the road, the last thing you want your child to do ispanic.”

Still others took part in Powder Puff Night for the sake of thesisterhood. Bogue Chitto’s Alise Bogan already knew how to takecare of her vehicle – she even changed out a pair of cylinder headsonce – but she wanted to brush up on her skills to make sure shecould handle whatever her car throws at her.

“Women want to be independent,” she said. “I really think womenare more interested in learning how their vehicle works – they wantto be able to do it themselves. And this is great for women,because a lot of women don’t get under their hoods and check thingsout.”

Although Gene’s Tire Center spent in excess of $5,000 in doorprizes and free food for Powder Puff Night, Brookhaven’s CarolBurgess believes it will pay off as tires wear thin and oilthickens up.

“Knowledgeable customers come back as better customers,” shesaid.