FFSC's Miss Fix-It class teaches auto maintenance

Auto Skills Center Manager Ken Wernau points out an engine part to Janet Alvarez, an information and referral specialist at the Fleet & Family Support Center and a student in the Miss Fix-It class.

Auto Skills Center Manager Ken Wernau points out an engine part to Janet Alvarez, an information and referral specialist at the Fleet & Family Support Center and a student in the Miss Fix-It class.

Photos by Andrea Howry / Lighthouse
Auto Skills Center Manager Ken Wernau identifies engine parts to students in the Miss Fix-It class. From left are Jessica Maheux, Barbara Owens and Lorraine Shallenberger, who is married to an Army retiree.

Photos by Andrea Howry / Lighthouse Auto Skills Center Manager Ken Wernau identifies engine parts to students in the Miss Fix-It class. From left are Jessica Maheux, Barbara Owens and Lorraine Shallenberger, who is married to an Army retiree.

Auto Skills Center Manager Ken Wernau shows the Miss Fix-it class how to change a tire. He brought his own car and parked it in front of the Welcome Center for the demonstrations.

Auto Skills Center Manager Ken Wernau shows the Miss Fix-it class how to change a tire. He brought his own car and parked it in front of the Welcome Center for the demonstrations.

Auto Skills Center Manager Ken Wernau shows students in the Miss Fix-It class how to change windshield wipers. Brittany Barton, a work and family life instructor at the Fleet & Family Support Center and the class organizer, dressed as Rosie the Riveter for the day. With her is Jessica Maheux, who works in catering for Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Auto Skills Center Manager Ken Wernau shows students in the Miss Fix-It class how to change windshield wipers. Brittany Barton, a work and family life instructor at the Fleet & Family Support Center and the class organizer, dressed as Rosie the Riveter for the day. With her is Jessica Maheux, who works in catering for Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Photo by Andrea Howry / Lighthouse
Ken Wernau, manager of the Auto Skills Center at Naval Base Ventura County, shows Barbara Owens how to check her oil during the Miss Fix-It class offered Wednesday, Jan. 16, through the Fleet & Family Support Center.

Photo by Andrea Howry / Lighthouse Ken Wernau, manager of the Auto Skills Center at Naval Base Ventura County, shows Barbara Owens how to check her oil during the Miss Fix-It class offered Wednesday, Jan. 16, through the Fleet & Family Support Center.

More than a dozen women who thought regular automobile maintenance meant filling your car with gas when it hits the “E” attended this month’s first Miss Fix-It workshop, put on by the Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC).

Brittany Barton, a work and family life coordinator for FFSC, organized the Jan. 16 class and dressed as Rosie the Riveter for the occasion.

“The goal of this class is to empower women with skills they need to take care of their car so they’re not stuck at the side of the road when their husband is deployed,” she said. “They need to know to check their vehicle, and they need to know when something is wrong. Even if they don’t know how to fix it, they need to know something’s not right with the engine.”

Another benefit, she said, is saving money.

Barton ran through some basic car maintenance that’s easy to do once it’s learned. Changing the oil can cost $40 at an auto shop, $20 to do it yourself. Replacing an air filter can cost $60, or $11 if you do it yourself. Lightbulbs, belts, fluids — all can be replaced easily and cheaply if you know what you’re doing, she said.

There to teach them was Ken Wernau, manager of the Auto Skills Center at Naval Base Ventura County. He used his truck, parked in front of the FFSC, to show the women the different parts under the hood, and he demonstrated how to check the oil, change the windshield wipers, headlight bulbs, taillight bulbs, air filter and tires and how to top off fluids.

He also ran through some basic rules of car maintenance: Check your oil with every other fill-up and change it every 3,000 miles, inspect belts and hoses every month, check the coolant level weekly and all other fluids monthly, check the tire pressure regularly and change the air filter every year or when you can’t see through it anymore.

Reading the vehicle manual, he stressed, is critical.

The class was extremely well-received, with comments afterward ranging from “Excellent workshop — very patient with questions, and explanations were very detailed” to “It was incredibly practical and very fun!”

© 2013 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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