Seniors Take A Look Under The Hood

July 11, 1991|By Jennifer Keats | Jennifer Keats,Contributing writer

Can you list the nine systems of the automobile?

The 10 women andeight men taking Chet Phebus' automobile repair awareness course at the Pascal Senior Center can.

The eight-week course, which runs from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday mornings at the Pascal Senior Center, features a discussion and summaryof the nine systems, from electrical to steering. The course is designed to help the seniors develop consumer awareness. And by its conclusion, the students will be able to check tire pressure and wear as well as the car's fluid levels.

Phebus, who has been at the public school system's Center for Applied Technology North in Severn for nine years, began teaching the basic course to seniors two years ago. "They ask more questions than the kids and get more involved," he said.

"I felt I needed to know much more about what's going on under the hood," said Glen Burnie resident Dorothy Kissinger, who owns a 1985Oldsmobile Calais and a 1991 Plymouth Sundance. "I think he's very good; I'm beginning to have much more respect for the technicians' background and education."

After her first July 2, the 68-year-old Kissinger said she planned to go to the library and read ahead so she will better understand automotive technology.

A repair shop owner for 10 years, Phebus uses an overhead projector and handouts to make students aware of an engine's complex workings. Last week, he discussed the importance of valves, pistons and timing in an engine.

As his students scribbled notes, he explained that more than grease and a wrench are required of today's mechanics. In fact, because of the amount of science, mathematics and physics involved in an engine, those who work on cars are not called mechanics but automotive technicians or diagnostic technicians.

Linthicum resident Ed Bowersock, 68, said he knows something about cars. For example, he said, he knows how to change the plugs.

"But I wanted to learn more about the operation and function of motor engines," said Bowersock, who owns two cars.

Phebus, who teaches entry-level skills at the vocational technical school, continues to learn about more modern engines by reading trade magazines and going to car dealerships as often as possible. In addition, he completed two workshops at Catonsville Community College this spring. In fact, he seems to have only one problem: "Since I workfor the Department of Education, I can't look at a vehicle on my owntime or make referrals," he said.

The course is sponsored throughAnne Arundel Community College. A $10 fee is required. Information: 222-6680.

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