Finding yourself stranded at the side of the road is unfortunate in any season, but if you drive your car into a ditch in subzero temperatures, that’s a wake-up call to learn more about car maintenance.
Kelly Williams, who offers car care clinics for women through her Kelly’s Garage website, will be coming to Leroy’s Auto Care for a workshop on January 26 to help local residents learn the ins and outs of their vehicles.
“Getting your car ready for winter is something that people don’t really think much about,” said Williams, a former NASCAR driver based in Hockley Valley, Ontario. “They get their houses all ready, and they put their lawn chairs away or whatever, but they don’t think to get their battery checked, or they wait to the last minute to get their winter tires, or they don’t even put winter tires on. Nobody ever thinks their car is going to have a problem, and then all of a sudden they’re stranded at the side of the road and they’re not prepared for it.”
But why does Williams target women, specifically? “When I first started it I actually did mixed clinics, and the men were always trying to show me how much they knew about cars and the women wouldn’t say anything at all,” said Williams, laughing. “So I decided to focus on the female market!”
“One of my goals with the car care clinic is to help women feel more empowered about their vehicles, and to build a good relationship with the shops they’re using for repairs,” Williams continued. “With women, there’s definitely a thirst for knowledge, and by being presented by a female such as myself with a racing background and an automotive background, I can put it in terms that they understand.”
With icy roads, heavy winds and plenty of snow, the country roads of Woolwich and Wellesley can be treacherous. Leroy Martin, the owner of Leroy’s Auto Care, emphasizes that drivers should think twice before taking any car maintenance shortcuts.
“Slow down, be cautious, but definitely make sure that your windows are clean and you have good wipers and you have a good kit in your car,” said Martin. “Have an actual emergency kit like booster cables, so if you get stranded and your battery’s dead you at least have the proper equipment in your vehicle. That’s one of the most important things to have in your vehicle at this time of year.”
Martin said that Williams’ workshop will help clarify the technical tasks that car owners may have neglected.
“It’s a lot of the basic car maintenance that sometimes people overlook, or are unsure of what they’re supposed to take care of,” Martin said. “Simple things like checking tire pressure and checking oils, and also the language we use when you go into a shop.
“And then we’ll go over proper maintenance before winter comes – having your battery checked, making sure the tire pressure is good, and making sure anything that can leave you stranded in the winter is all checked and maintained ahead of time.”
When asked about the biggest mistakes Canadian drivers make during the winter, Williams is very clear. “I think only 34 per cent of Canadians actually have an emergency roadside kit in their car. And just, people not changing their driving habits for winter driving conditions. On a nice, beautiful day, you can drive a lot faster than when there are whiteout conditions.”