Test drives and training at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire

In Girl in a Mechanics World, Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Written by: Teresa Anderson

Test drives and training at Steve's Auto Repair & Tire

BFGoodrich g force comp a/s testing on a ford mustang

Test drives and training at Steve's Auto Repair & Tire

Rafael Torres giving a driving and tire test class for BFGoodrich g force comp 2 a/s

Ever wondering what kind of training staff goes through at an auto repair shop, like Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire? A lot of times we get not only training videos and information to read and study from, but we also get to do plenty of ‘hands on’ learning as well.

I’d like to share my experience as a woman attending the BFGoodrich training course that was held at the FedEx Field on August 6.

At the 5 hour training course, myself and several colleagues learned about the new and popular tire lines offered by BFGoodrich – like the All Terrain KO2, and the Comp-2 A/S. We had a class with one of the most knowledgeable tire experts out there, that explained the different tests that all BFGoodrich tires undergo, and how the results of these tests compare to other tires on the market. Things that may seem small, like grip in the rain, and dealing with seasonal weather, vary widely from brand to brand.

Test drives and training at Steve's Auto Repair & Tire

Andrew Comrie-Picard giving a class on the BFGoodrich g force comp 2 a/s

And we didn’t just learn about the different tires, we got to get behind the wheel and experience first hand, the performance differences between a BFGoodrich tire and a competitor’s tire – on a dry and a wet weather course.

Hands down, one of the most valuable parts of the experience were these behind-the-wheel road courses, when it comes to giving us knowledge about tires that we can pass on to our customers. For each test, they had cars with the same year, make and model. The only difference was that one car had BFGoodrich tires, and the other, a leading competitor’s tire.

Test drives and training at Steve's Auto Repair & Tire

BFGoodrich g force comp 2 a/s testing on a Toyota

While I was afraid to drive on the wet track, and had a professional driver there to drive me on the course, I did drive on the dry track. During both courses we practiced accelerating, hard braking, fast turns and swerving in the different conditions, to really push the vehicle to its limit. People normally don’t think about the performance differences from one tire to another, but when I got behind the wheel with both sets of tired, I was floored by how much better the BFGoodrich tires performed. The difference was absolutely night and day.

Test drives and training at Steve's Auto Repair & Tire

BFGoodrich KO2 on a jeep at the ride and drive event held at Fed Ex Field

Overall, I felt that the BFGoodrich course was an excellent way to reinforce the things we’re constantly learning about tires and vehicles, and helping us to have a practical hands on understanding that we can pass on as knowledge to our customers. When it comes to the safety of yourself and your family, having technicians that can speak from experience about the quality and performance of tires is something you need to look for as a smart consumer.

Why did the repair facility advise me to replace my shocks/struts? I only have “X” amount of miles on my car!

In Girl in a Mechanics World, Shocks and Struts by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Written by Teresa Anderson – service writer for Steve’s Auto Repair and Tire

Shocks and struts are not something most people think about wearing out, like they do with tires. They’re not as visible for drivers, and they don’t wear out as fast, or need frequent maintenance, like oil changes.

Why did the repair facility advise me to replace my shocks/struts?

Worn Strut Assemblies from a Toyota Tundra. The struts work with the coil springs.

Why did the repair facility advise me to replace my shocks/struts?

Shock starting to leak oil. This can cause tire wear and a longer braking distance.

Shocks and struts are important because they stabilize your vehicle and keep your car from bouncing when you drive over rough road. Think about how many bumps and potholes there are in the road. Think about the rough pavement and rocks that you drive over every single time you get into your car to go somewhere. This is what wears out your shocks and struts, and this is why when a car professional recommends replacing them, you should take them seriously.

To understand the seriousness of replacing shocks and struts, it’s important to understand what can happen if you’re driving around with a set that are worn out.

The job of your shocks and struts is not to keep the car up as most people conceive, it’s to minimize bouncing – which can really damage your car’s tires and suspension. And if your shocks and struts are worn out, and lead to an impaired suspension system in your car – this can have a serious consequence. Bad suspension can also wreak havoc on your brake system.  It can lengthen your stopping distance because the car is lunging forward with the weight of the vehicle putting more pressure on your brakes, causing them to wear out faster. And this could also lead you to get into an accident because of impaired handling and brake time.

Can you visibly see worn shocks and struts? Well…sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t. And for many drivers , it can be a challenge to determine when it’s time to commit to replacing your shocks and struts

Why did the repair facility advise me to replace my shocks/struts?

Worn shocks, the one on the top is starting to seep oil. (see dark spot in the middle .

Most manufacturers recommend replacement every 50,000 miles. Consider manufacturer’s recommendations, because after 50,000 miles they have definitely carried a lot of weight, gone quite a distance and are no longer performing as that should be, but a technician will be able to tell you for sure.

Looking for an easy way to determine if your shocks and struts are wearing out? The best way to tell if they are not performing the way they should is to do the bounce test.  Push down on the trunk of the car and the front of the car  and see how quickly it bounces back.  If it’s bouncy, the shocks are wearing out, if it returns slowly, they are most likely fine.

Why did the repair facility advise me to replace my shocks/struts?

Mercedes wheel bent from hitting a pothole also effects the shocks and struts

It should just bounce about 1 and ½ times and that should be it.  If you are getting more than than that, the suspension is failing. Mileage – including the 50,000 mile recommendation – doesn’t always mean that you have to replace them.  I’ve seen certain vehicles that are notorious for needing them replaced as early as 40,000 miles!  I know that may not be what you want to hear, especially since it means it will cost you money, but it’s necessary to keep your car running safely on the road.

The first thing a auto technician would do is inspect the condition of the suspension.  If they can see the fluid seeping out of the shocks, then they are weak because the fluid is coming out and it’s definitely time to consider replacement.

Why did the repair facility advise me to replace my shocks/struts?

strut from the front of a mini van

Even though they may not be leaking, it still may be time to replace them.  A technician can tell by looking at a few different things, and they will be able to guide you on what to do to get your vehicle working safely.

Looking back at my time at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire

In Girl in a Mechanics World by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Looking back at my time at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire

By Katie Tatum

This is my closing chapter working as an assistant technician at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire before leaving for Ohio Technical College.

The shop has done a lot for me in the past year and I cannot thank them enough. They are friendly, not only to the customers but the technicians in the shop.

Last summer, I started looking for a job in the automotive field – not only to help me with autotech – but to also to save up money for college.

A lot of places turned me down because I wasn’t eighteen yet (even though I would turn eighteen in a couple of months). This really brought my hopes down because for the most part I thought I did really bad at job interviews, until my automotive teacher, Mr. Stevens, recommended I go to Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire.

The owner, Mr. Billingsley, hired me on the spot with one condition – I could not drive cars into the shop until I turned eighteen. I was over excited and extremely nervous because this was going to be my first job. Best first job ever right?

From here on out this job would help me grow a lot during my senior year of high school. I thought I would really have a hard time being a female in the automotive field, however, at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, I grew thick skin really fast, which you really need in this field.

Thanks to them I have learned and will continue to learn to stand up for myself in every situation that it will be needed. Throughout life people will push you around if you have the chance of being better than they are. At Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, they taught me how to handle that and now I treat the other technicians like annoying big brothers.

There were more lessons that I have learned during my year working at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire.

The automotive industry is way different from working in a restaurant, for example. If you mess up a customer’s order in a restaurant, that’s okay they just make a new plate. In the shop if you mess up someone’s car, it is expensive and depending on what went wrong it can be life threatening. You need to know what you are doing so you don’t put anyone’s life or wallet at risk. This helped me pay more attention to the way I act in daily life and the way I communicate with other people.

I also learned that you need to finish things once you start them. You cannot stop in the middle of putting a tire on a car and say, “Okay I’m done now.” The task is incomplete and the car is undrivable. Learning this has helped me fight against procrastination in the real world. For example, if I don’t feel like doing my homework all I have to do is write a sentence and then I will see the task through until I am finished.

There are many more things I learned in this shop than just those two things that have to do with growing up and transitioning from being a student to an employee.

I have each and every person in that shop to give credit to especially the owner, ST Billingsley. He has helped me realize there is more to the automotive industry than just working on cars and as you read this, he is opening up more doors for me. That is only something an extraordinary person would do for another.

As a woman in a male dominated industry I now have confidence in myself and my abilities to compete and work on the same level as everyone else thanks to Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire.

I am not sucking up to my bosses reading this (ok maybe a little) but seriously, I am really going to miss working here and could not have asked for a better first job. I cannot even begin to describe how open and friendly this shop is. I know I am safe here to grow as needed and they have expressed interest in rehiring me if I ever want to come back after Technical School. I am really going to miss working at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire for the next few years because this was not just a first job, but it grew into finding a place I would very gladly want to come back to in the future and I know I will be comfortable.

Jubilant June

In Girl in a Mechanics World by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Spring has sprung and so has the excitement in Prince William County. Whether it’s a concert, kid’s event or a picnic there are events to satisfy every weather worshipper.

On June 14 the Spring into Summer festival will be held at Stonebridge Potomac Center. I personally am excited for this one as in addition to music and food there will be a fashion show. The event will be held from 12-6. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

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