Karl Laube, founder of Drivewell, teaches a free, comprehensive course on car maintenance and basic repairs. “People were constantly asking me to work on their car or calling me because they’re at the shop and they don’t know what the mechanic is telling them.”
Laube has worked on cars since before he could legally drive. He's a firefighter for the City of Cincinnati, and after seeing a need, he applied for a project grant from People’s Liberty and founded Drivewell earlier this year.
“Most people feel like they don’t have any power and going to the mechanic is an anxiety-ridden task," Laube says. "They tell you this, this and this. But you don’t know what they did.”
After the course, drivers have a newfound confidence. Along with Shelby Dunn, a technician for Volvo, Laube aims to give drivers a better understanding to help eliminate confusion and frustration and avoid unnecessary bills.
The first class was for women only. Laube says that he would frequently get calls for advice and assistance from females. He feels when it comes to cars, women tend to get the short end of the stick.
Students get to use their own cars, and they must apply to take the classes. However, Drivewell is only for cars worth less than $10,000. The intention is to serve people who have an older car that they're trying to keep up. Laube himself drives a 1992 Mercedes station wagon.
Drivewell is all-encompassing and is a wholesome lesson on vehicle ownership: how does an engine work; tire changes, rotation and alignment; electrical systems and changing fuses; checking and changing fluids; brake maintenance and checking brake pads; detecting common scams; and how to buy and sell used cars.
“I want to use this as a tool to empower people,” Laube says.
Moreover, Laube’s ultimate goal is to combat consumerism and encourage a habit of fixing rather than disposing. “People don’t fix things anymore.”
People end up spending more money than they need to, and this class teaches drivers to fix their own vehicles. “It’s a source of pride when you own something and can work on it and take care of it," he says.
Laube is currently looking for a new location to continue the next round of classes, which he is hoping will take place in the spring. In the meantime, interested drivers can apply online or fill out an interest form for the next round of classes.
Along with the women’s only course, Drivewell plans to add two new classes to the roster: a workshop on driving a stick shift and a course for new drivers.