July 18, 2024
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Learning About Cars With Becca

“It probably says in your manual don’t use additives. But they’ll still try to sell it to you.”

On July 17, Becca Ziobro had the undivided attention of eight women as she taught them how to know when they’re being taken advantage of by a mechanic. The Ohr HaTorah Youth House in Bergenfield served as the classroom for the autocare lesson. Ziobro drew diagrams of the pistons in an engine and the mechanics of the brakes on a whiteboard, as the attendees followed along in the explanatory packet she had prepared.

Her relationship with cars began in auto shop class at Montclair High School, and led her to Lincoln Tech in Union where she became a mechanic. Most recently she worked for Nissan in Ramsey, as a technician, but is now a stay-at-home mom and teaches car care classes. Her explanations were peppered with anecdotes to emphasize her points, many of which came as a surprise to the women.

Pointing to items on the Nissan “Multi-Point Inspection” sheet that she broughtalong, Ziobro marked off the few that were necessities, saying that the rest were just ways for the mechanics and dealers to make more money. Coming to a mechanic with a working knowledge of how a car works, as well as your maintenance records, ensures that the mechanic will only give you the services that are supposed to be given.

Laughingly, Ziobro exclaimed, “Your owner’s manual is your car’s holy grail!” She advised the women multiple times to read the manual, because there are many pieces of information that will enable them to service their cars themselves, savingcountless dollars. The women all interjected with their own stories and questions, eager to learn what to do in the future to take charge and avoid the “overselling” that many had previously been exposed to.

Heading outside to demonstrate on her Nissan Sentra’s engine, Ziobro told the class, “The best thing to do for your car is to keep up maintenance. The second best is to put it in your garage.” She described a man who had attended her last class, driving a car that had racked up a shocking 225,000 miles yet looked immaculate, due to consistent and routine maintenance. The women gathered around her in a tight knot, peering at the places where the coolant, engine oil and other various engine fluids go. Finally, Ziobro showed everyone how to change a tire.

Armed with their notes and a list of important items to keep in their car in case of emergency, Ziobro had prepared these women to face any mechanic.

Sara Linder is a JLNJ summer intern. She is a Teaneck resident and a student at the University of Maryland-College Park.

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