'Sisterhood' makes asking car questions fun

By Sarah E. Reynolds | May 28, 2014
Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds Chip Knowlton explains where different automotive fluids go during a program for women Thursday, May 23, at Rockport Automotive.

Rockport — When Rockport Automotive held its first free  "Sisterhood of Automotive Knowledge" night two years ago, many of the women who attended were friends of Jan Campbell, then the shop's general manager.

Of the 25 or so who attended the second seminar Thursday, May 22, none was a personal friend of Campbell, who now owns the business with her husband Eric. Word of mouth had brought them.

Most of the shop's customers are women, she said, and the business has a policy of showing customers what is going on with their vehicles. It is important that all customers feel free to ask questions, she said, and the seminar is designed to give them an opportunity to do that.

The purpose of the program is to offer something to the community and “to make women more comfortable with their cars,” Campbell said. It also helps to bring in new customers, she said.

For the seminar, attendees were split up into five groups, each of which started at a different station. They rotated through the stations until they had been to all five. Chip Knowlton talked about the various fluids a car uses and how to check and change them. Eric Campbell discussed tires and alignment, and demonstrated the machine that checks wheel alignment. Andrew Lappin explained check engine and other dashboard lights, as well as the computer diagnostics the shop uses.

Describing the difference between today's cars and autos of the past, Lappin said, "There's a lot more electronics to them, but they all have bolts, belts and bearings."

Dennis Emery discussed the systems underneath the car. Finally, a representative of AAA made a presentation on distracted driving.

There were also refreshments and door prizes.

The women, most of whom were old enough to remember a time before seat belts were mandatory, said they had come to learn more about a subject traditionally held to be a man's preserve. Judy Murphy of Union said she came “just to get a little more education.” For Liona Burdulis of Camden, “it's about time I learned something about my car.”

Jan Campbell said she has had requests from men for a seminar dedicated to them as well. She hopes to do a men's program later in the summer.

“We don't want to discriminate against the guys, either,” she said.

Andrew Lappin talks about dashboard lights and car diagnostics during the 'Sisterhood of Automotive Knowledge' seminar Thursday, May 23. (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
Rockport Automotive co-owner Eric Campbell talks tires and alignment to an attentive audience of women. (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
Explaining the underside of the car is Dennis Emery during Rockport Automotive's 'Sisterhood of Automotive Knowledge' seminar Thursday, May 23. (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
From left, front, Rockport Automotive co-owner Jan Campbell with Andrew Lappin; rear, co-owner Eric Campbell, Justin Holmes, Chip Knowlton and Dennis Emery. (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
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Staff Profile

Sarah Reynolds
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
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Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.

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