We at NAPA Auto Parts love to see young people taking responsibility for their vehicles and gaining the Know How to properly care for them. We’re especially excited to see young women learning what every car owner should know about basic maintenance. Over the course of a lifetime, taking care of your car can save drivers thousands of dollars and countless headaches. So when we found out one Louisiana school has a program that helps its high school students learn proper car care, we had to share their story.
St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge is an all-girls Catholic high school recognized for its academic excellence. But, apparently, school leaders realize there’s more to success than just book smarts. Young people need practical skills too, and fortunately for seniors at St. Joseph’s, Nan Murtagh’s Adult Responsibility course introduces these young women to the real-world obstacles that nearly every grown-up faces.
For most of us, that includes keeping one or more vehicles in proper working order. Now these students are ready to do just that. With the help of school maintenance supervisor Arthur Smith, Murtagh’s class learned all about oil and other fluids, filters, tires and electrical systems. Students divided into groups, with a different topic assigned to each group. The groups studied their topics and prepared to share their knowledge with the rest of the class. They created presentations, provided a one-page instructional document that students could keep in their car and demonstrated how to perform the work on their own vehicles.
Fluids are absolutely essential to the proper operation of a vehicle, so Murtagh’s class familiarized themselves with motor oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid. The students learned how each fluid works along with how to check levels and add fluids. Proper maintenance intervals – for changing oil, for example – were also covered.
The class also learned how to correctly maintain tires: where to find the recommended tire pressure label, how to check tire pressure, the dangers of over-inflated or under-inflated tires and the importance of proper rotation. These skills and tips not only promote safety but can also help drivers reduce the costs of car ownership. Like good engine maintenance, proper tire care results in longer-lasting tires.
Electrical systems can be very complex, but the young women in Murtagh’s class are already sharp on the basics. The class learned how batteries and fuses work, how to check and replace fuses and, perhaps most importantly, how to safely jump-start a car using jumper cables.
Kerigan Bowman, one of Murtagh’s students, put her new skills to work on the very day that her group presented a tire-changing demonstration in class.
“I was getting on the interstate and my car started driving funny so I got off at College Drive,” Bowman said. “By then, I realized my tire was completely flat. I called my dad and he said it would be an hour before he could do it. I called my boyfriend since I wasn’t changing two tires in one day. When he got there he said he had never done it before so I supervised until it was time to actually put on the new tire. He couldn’t get it on the axle so I had to do the hard part of actually putting on the tire.”
Here at NAPA, a young person with automotive Know How and the confidence to tackle a job that many people find intimidating makes us smile. You go, girls!
Have a story of teaching young people about car care? Let us know in the comments below.
Nick Palermo is a freelance automotive writer and NAPA Know How blogger. Since becoming an auto news and reviews contributor at AutoTrader.com in 2011, he has broadened his coverage of the automotive industry to include topics like new car technology, antiques and classics, DIY maintenance and repair, industry news and motorsports. A committed advocate for automotive media professionals, Nick is a member of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association.