TODAY   |  February 17, 2013

Erica Hill takes auto class for women, by women

The number of women on American highways outnumber men, but the idea of fixing a flat or changing a brake light can be daunting for some. One New York woman is trying to change that, teaching women what they “auto” know. TODAY’s Erica Hill reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> women outnumber men on the nation's highways according to government statistics. still, a lot of women get a bad rap when it comes to what we know about our cars. for a lot of people, the idea of fixing a flat or changing a brake light bulb can seem down thing. one woman is trying to change that by teaching women what they ought to know.

>> i have never had hands-on experience, even as far as opening the hood of my car. i have never done that.

>> reporter: before spending the afternoon in this new york auto shop, helen seglia had never checked her tire pressure and she wasn't in the habit of diagnosing potential blowouts.

>> i see people driving warned bubble ons their tire.

>> that is a blowout waiting to happen.

>> reporter: how quickly things change . we did exactly what awudra was hoping for.

>> mechanics get a bad rap . people feel like they are getting a bad deal, specially women . how valid is that?

>> if i don't know about a topic, i already have anxiety.

>> reporter: she is the fourth generation to run great bear auto repair . the first to turn this shop into a school.

>> that's how we are going to read it. come take a look under the hood. whatever the manufacturer wants you to pay attention to, they put in a transparent colored reservoir. do you see anything that's transparent?

>> you have got one.

>> and brake fluid . you know what color it is?

>> green.

>> it is like chardonnay.

>> yes, chardonnay.

>> so the tires on your car are like the shoes on your feet. if you are out of alignment and you limp, that's a really good int kags on the shoes, the same with the tires.

>> reporter: she chooses her words carefully. part of her mission to demystify the cars we rely on so heavily.

>> if you name your car, then it is not i have to bring the car into the shop. it is more like bessy needs to go in for maintenance.

>> reporter: and they are cover vetted to understand what bessie or in my case, josi, means. barely an hour into the class, you could sense the energy shift.

>> reporter: the hardest part about checking tire pressure is not to lose the cap.

>> what about this cracking here, is this telling you even though there is a fair amount of tread left, i still need to think about getting a new tire?

>> absolutely.

>> so it is full.

>> right. do you see the glisten?

>> i am showing people what they need on their car and when i see they get it, i get energized.

>> reporter: let's review what we all ought to know at the end of this day. first up, fluid, the darker your oil, the more frequently you should change it. brake fluid looks like chardonnay. always use the same color coolant your car came with. next, tires, recommended pressure is on the driver's door, the side wall is your tire's weakette point. look for cracks and known tread. know your tire's birthday, listed by the week and year. know your baby, bond with your car, give it a name. everything has a life span , from the battery to your tires. the more you care for your car, the fewer surprises down the road.

>>> having mastered fluidses, tires, jumper cables, even a roadside change, it was time for a well-earned diploma.

>> katy, miss katy.

>> and a new start.

>> just process of actually doing it myself gives me the confidence to take better care of my car.

>> her women ought to know class classes are free. it is not limited to women . she does accept donations and uses part of that to help fix the cars of women in need.