Trent Anderson and Brandon Conavatti, owners of St. Michael’s TGK Automotive, started doing automotive maintenance classes for young drivers with permits in the summer of 2019.
The classes were going to start again in 2020, but due to the pandemic, they stopped the program. Since then, enough have shown interest That TGK hosted another class Nov. 3.
“People asked if we were going to do it again,” Anderson said. “We were getting calls asking for this and we wanted to do it again because it’s fun.”
The class was free and allowed 10 teens to come into the shop and look under the hood of a car with Anderson and other TGK automotive technicians. Before the hour-long class, Andy’s Hometown Pizza donated pizza for the kids to fill up on before learning some new things..
“As long as they get a little something out of it that maybe can help them, that’s the most important thing,” Anderson said. “Just kind of go through how to check your air pressure, your fluid levels. How to jump a vehicle. Then also leave it up to them if they have any questions.”
Anderson hopes the teens learn the little things that they might not have been fully been taught, or remember from a driving class or their parents.
“We aren’t teaching them how to drive, just how to be mindful and aware of what your vehicle is,” Anderson said. “The most important things are the simple things, like making sure you have good tires, wipers, your air pressure is full, your washer fluid is topped off. The biggest thing in the wintertime is having the really basic maintenance items where they’re supposed to be. Just the really basic knowledge. We’re not here to sell anything. It’s not the driving point. Just with winter coming up just making sure they feel comfortable with their vehicle.”
In 2019, the students were doing more hands-on activities like changing out their own oil. Anderson felt that was a little overwhelming for the teens taking an hour-long class and that this year they would scale back to focus on questions the students have and basic engine maintenance issues to look out for.
“This time we’re more concentrating more on the aspects of the vehicle than making them do work,” Anderson said.
Conavatti thought the new structure worked very well and the kids that participated seemed very interested in learning about vehicle maintenance.
“This was a different type of class that we are used to doing but I felt like it was more educational,” he said. “[I] hope the next class we get a few more kids wanting to learn some basics.”
At the end of the class, the kids received winter driving and emergency kits that contained jumper cables, first aid supplies, a flashlight and more.
“Maybe they’ll put it in their trunk and forget about it, but hopefully don’t forget too much if they need it,” Anderson said.
The hope is to continue the class if the interest is there, teaching new drivers things they need to know before they run into trouble on the road.
“We’d like to [continue the class] every couple of months or so,” Anderson said. “That’s kind of our goal, not to get every kid, but to get a bunch of them through.”