Jenny the Mechanic

Chris and I drove to Mom and Dad’s house on Thursday last week for the July 4th weekend, arriving around about 11am. I was excited about the project I was going to work on while there – learning how to change brake pads! The brake pads on the SUV had been squeaking for about 2 weeks, so I took it in to our mechanic. He showed me that they had about 1/16″ left on the front brake pads, meaning it was time for a change. Rather than pay someone else to do it, I decided that I wanted to learn. I have 4 brothers, after all, and each of them knows how to change brake pads, so why shouldn’t I? Besides, I already know how to do other simple car maintenance and repair tasks – changing the oil, changing a tire, replacing headlights, knowing how to drive a car with a broken gas gauge… oh, the joys of growing up in a family with a father who LOVES to work on old cars! Trust me when I say that I could tell you LOTS of “interesting” car-related stories from my childhood 🙂

So I called my dad and asked if he would help me. He was more than happy to do so, and we planned to do it when Chris & I visited. I asked Chris if he wanted to learn, too, but he wasn’t that interested. So on Thursday, I changed into some older clothes, went out into the garage with my dad, jacked up the car using one of my dad’s favorite Christmas presents (a hydraulic car lift – just what every father wants, right?), propped it on sturdy, non-movable car supports, and blocked in the tires (you don’t want the car dropping or moving when you are under it!).

I could go into detail about how it was all done, but you’d probably be bored. I, however, was having a great time! It may sound weird, but there is something very satisfying about being in the garage, getting your hands dirty, and working on a car. Our culture is so focused on the fact that if you need to have repairs done on your vehicle, you have to take it in, and that girls cannot work on cars. Granted, there are some times when it is a GREAT idea to take your car to a mechanic. I would never support the idea that people who don’t know what they are doing should work on their vehicles – we’d have all sorts of problems. But changing brake pads is not that hard – it just takes time (about 45 minutes total) and someone who knows what they are doing. Thankfully, my dad does know what he is doing, and he was a great teacher – very patient, encouraging, and happy to help me 🙂

What does this mean? It basically means that me and my dad changed the brake pads for about $20.00 + the time it took, rather than the hundreds of dollars the mechanic wanted for changing them. I also have a new skill and know how to change brake pads. If any of you are familiar with my family vacations (my family, not Chris’ family), you will understand what I mean when I say that knowing how to do this can be verrrrry useful. Especially when you are on a camping trip 15 hours from home with 13 very tired, hot, frustrated people waiting for you in a Wal-Mart. But that, my friends, is another story 🙂

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