Teaching your teen to drive might be a terrifying experience as a parent, but nothing is as scary as sending your teen driver off without any knowledge of how to actually take care of their car. Considering that almost $60 billion worth of car maintenance goes unperformed annually, there’s no better time to teach your teen the basics. Here are a few simple maintenance tasks to start with.
Checking the Oil
Checking the oil levels in a car’s engine is one of the most important maintenance tasks a car owner can perform before they hit the road. In addition, knowing how to add oil if the level is too low can seriously save a vehicle. This is an especially important task to perform if your teen is driving an older car, which may eat through oil more quickly than a newer model. If you need a refresher before you teach your teen, here are a few basic steps to cover.
- Make sure the engine is turned off and still warm.
- Have a rag or spare scrap of fabric at the ready.
- Pop the hood and locate the dipstick — it usually has a brightly colored handle that is clearly visible.
- Pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean with your rag.
- Reinsert the dipstick and pull it out again to read the oil level.
- Use the indicator on your dipstick to ensure the oil is at an acceptable level. The oil should be amber in color.
- Add oil if the level is below the indicated point on your dipstick and there are no signs of gritty or dirty oil.
You don’t have to be one of the 12.5 million manufacturing workers to understand that oil is what lubricates every moving part in your car’s engine. Making sure your teen knows how to check and add oil when necessary can help them keep their car running for much longer than it would otherwise.
Measuring Tire Health
Tires are arguably one of the most important parts of a car. They are, after all, what keeps it rolling! As such, it’s important to teach your teen to check up on them on a regular basis. Two of the most important checks your teen needs to know how to make are air pressure and tire tread. Together, these checks can help determine the health of a car’s tires. When it comes to air pressure, investing in a tire pressure gauge can help make this a simple task. Simply insert the pressure gauge into the valve stem on each tire and compare the psi reading to the psi number listed in the owner’s manual or on the sticker inside the driver’s side door. Checking tire treads is even easier. Simply stick a penny into each tire’s tread and determine whether or not you can see all of Lincoln’s head. If you can see his entire head, then it’s time to rotate or replace the tires.
Listening to the Car
Listening to a vehicle might not seem like an essential maintenance task, but it can certainly help your teen understand when something is wrong with their vehicle. Teach your teen what different problems sound like. For instance, a high-pitched squeaking or squealing noise upon braking might mean that it’s time to get the brake pads replaced. If your teen doesn’t know to listen for this sound and that it means something is wrong, they could be putting their safety at risk. This is one of many reasons why it’s so important to teach your teen to listen to their car. Even electric vehicles, which are predicted to make up almost 54% of new car sales by 2040, will have aural indicators that something needs to be serviced. Understanding abnormal car noises can make all the difference in your teen’s car care!
It’s hard to confidently send your teen off to drive without being at least a little bit worried. Fortunately, teaching them these vital car maintenance tips can provide peace of mind for you and a safety net for them to work with.