Auto motives


Teresa Aquila is a local mechanic who’s been teaching seminars on the basics of automotive care since the early ’80s. Her next seminar will be held at the National Automobile Museum on June 17, followed by a car show featuring rides that belong to several dozen area women. The show is scheduled for June 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the museum’s parking lot.

Tell me a bit about the seminar.

Well, the seminar is based on the things that you need to know when taking your car into a shop. Doing preventative maintenance can save you a lot of money in the long run. I actually had a male friend—his mom and dad called me and said that their son’s car stopped running on the highway, and they’d put a new motor in it about three months prior. They wanted to have it towed [to my house]. So they brought it here, and the first thing I checked was the dipstick. There was no oil in the engine. Out of seven quarts, I put in five and half quarts in there. So, the engine will shut down, but by then—only a quart and half in the engine—you’ve already destroyed the engine. The whole bottom end’s knocking now. … This just happened. This is what I’m trying to teach. In the seminar, we’re focusing on women, but if men want to come to the class—not a problem there. …

So it’s not full yet?

No, it’s not full yet. … I don’t want more than 15 or 20, only because what we learn in the classroom, we’re going to actually go out to the parking lot and do those things to the car. … I’m going to bring my engine analyzer and show them how to check their check engine light. Even if it’s not on, we can still go through some processes. … There’s cheap pieces of equipment, analyzers you can buy that plug in and give you the code, but people need to understand that when you get the code, it’s only an area that’s being affected. So there’s other things that vein into that that actually could create that failure. Just because it says, and we’ll use this for an example, just because it says an EGR [exhaust gas recirculation] valve or an O2 sensor is out of range, doesn’t mean that component has failed, so you have to do more tests to determine what the problem is.

You’re going to cover a lot of this in, what is it, just a couple hours, right?

It’s just a couple hours, but we’re going to go over it and explain it so that they have an understanding of what the process is. Now, if they want to learn more, and if they want to learn one-on-one, I’ll offer that to them. And we can do individual classes, and they can learn how to work on their own car. Not that they want to be mechanics, but the simple basics is what will save you a lot of money and some grief and time off the roadway.

How basic will it start? Are you going to show them how to check their oil first, or are we assuming they already know that much?

No. I’m not assuming anything, because I learned years ago that the word assume—if you break it down—it means “ass out of you and me.” … We don’t go there. So I take questions, and I’ll explain, “Some of you may know this, but I want to cover it real quick.” …

And the car show?

Well, this is the second one. I actually did one last year. … I wanted to do a car show just for women. … We have trophies for each class. … They’re kind of cute. And then we’re having raffle prizes. … Some businesses have been sponsoring giveaways. We have live entertainment. … I have an inflatable car I designed. My logo and brand’s name is Windy Wiper. I made her into an inflatable. … She’s a pink car. She’s got a big bow, earrings on her outside mirrors. She’s very feminine. She’ll be there to take pictures. The kids love her. … Adults love her too. They love to take pictures with her.

Did the car show fill up?

No. We’re at about 25 or 28. We’re going to 50. … I was at a car show over the weekend, met a bunch of women, and they’re going to sign up. I’m hoping for 30 or 35. I’d like to see 50. … The first year we hardly advertised at all and had 15. So this year, we’re pushing for more.