Whenever anything went wrong with my car, my instinct was to call my Dad. He could fix anything. And if he didn't know how to do it himself, he at least knew exactly what to do to help.
My Dad died suddenly in February. At the time, I felt like a star that burned out and collapsed in on itself—a black hole with an aching, unending emptiness right in the place my heart should be. I have missed my Dad every single day since, and while the ache has eased it seems to be ever present. Some days are harder than others.
Dad could fix anything. He helped me change out dead batteries, burned out taillights and broken headlights. Together, we replaced fuses, fitted floor mats and monitored tire pressure. I did almost nothing to my car without Dad there to help. He taught me as much as he could about automotive maintenance, but I always believed the best (and easiest) solution to any problem was to call him. He always—always—answered his phone.
I can't call my Dad anymore.
And while my brother is just as amazing as he was and certainly willing to help, I don't want to rely on him. I want to do things myself. I want to learn to diagnose problems, take care of my car and, especially, my tires. I am determined to become an unofficial #SheCANic.
Patrice Banks, an auto service technician and founder of the Girls Auto Clinic—an automotive repair shop that hires and empowers female mechanics and caters to female clients—coined the phrase SheCANic. Her official website, patricebanks.com, defines the term as "a female of any age who has mastered the mechanics of 'yes, I can' and uses them to get 'yes, I did.'"
In her book, "Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide," Banks breaks down every aspect of automotive maintenance, explaining how a vehicle works, the importance of each part and the cost involved in properly caring for it. If you want to learn the basics of auto care and tire maintenance, her book is the perfect place to start.
Reading through the book recently, I was surprised by what I knew. I remembered my Dad explaining some of the same things she does. Having my own copy in the car is a little bit like having him there to help again.
I love what Banks is doing to not only spread the word about auto care and tire maintenance, but also how she is empowering women to confidently find their place in an industry that is often male dominated. And her advice and expertise helps anyone who needs a refresher, male or female.
Her efforts, though, are far from the only ones. Initiatives such as the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association's National Tire Safety Week go a long way toward the efforts as well.
Each year, the USTMA sponsors National Tire Safety Week, during which time its members do their best to educate the general public about the basics and importance of regular tire maintenance. For many tire manufacturers, the effort is ongoing, but during that week in particular they step up their game.
My favorite marketing effort, though, was Nokian's. Instead of preaching tire tread depth and air pressure checks, they brought a bit of humor to the topic with a man on the street video.
The tire maker, which recently moved its North American headquarters to Nashville, decided to talk with folks in its new hometown about the basics of tire care. In the video, passers-by were quizzed with questions such as "how often should you rotate your tires?" and "how do you check your tire's tread level?"