Parents, we know it’s a scary concept to hand over the car keys to your teenage driver and watch him/her drive away. While you might have been in the car to teach your child all the rules of the road and help him/her become comfortable behind the wheel, once they have their license, you won’t always be in the vehicle.
This means, as a parent, you’ll likely worry. Even if you are comfortable with your teen’s driving abilities, there are many other things that can go wrong, such as dead batteries, flat tires, and other car maintenance issues. If your teen driver doesn’t know how to either address the problem or take care of the vehicle so the problems don’t occur, it can lead to more worry and stress on your end.
However, when you teach your teen basic car maintenance and how to identify potential problems, along with the rules of the road, you’ll worry less and they’ll remain safer.
1. Read the owner’s manual.
First and foremost, encourage your teen to read the owner’s manual. It’s a simple step that provides important information about the vehicle. Maintenance tips such as the right type of oil to use for the engine and the correct tire pressure levels are all found in the manual. For safe driving, it’s imperative that your teen understands the information or, at least, how to find it in the owner’s manual.
2. Teach tire care.
The upkeep and maintenance of a vehicle’s tires are hugely important. Teach your teenagers how to check the tire air pressure and properly fill the tire with air. Driving on under- or over-inflated tires leads to blowouts and less efficient handling.
It’s a good idea to instill a habit in them to check the tires every time they stop for gas. Along with checking the air pressure, instruct them to look for bumps, bulges, and cracks in the tire and sidewall.
Oh, and don’t forget to teach them to inspect the tread. Tread that is worn too thin is dangerous to drivers. Be sure to point out what tread should look like, and then show them that if you don’t see the grooves, or if you use the penny test and can’t see the top of Lincoln’s head when placing a penny upside down in the tire, then “the tread is dead.”
3. Get regular oil changes.
Young drivers often don’t take regular oil changes seriously. But, if you don’t change the engine oil (http://www.cartalk.com/content/car-talk-service-advice-oil-changes), you will experience a less efficient engine, at first. Then parts will wear out, and it could even lead to engine failure.
That’s why it’s always important to make sure your teen driver understands to have regular oil changes to keep the car running as efficiently and safely as possible.
4. Clean the car.
A clean car is a safe car. A dirty windshield decreases visibility, making driving more dangerous, especially in low-light, rainy, or foggy conditions. It’s also necessary for your teen to keep headlights clean.
Not only do headlights help with visibility in the low light and nighttime, but they also help drivers communicate with each other. After a while, the headlights collect a film on the exterior that weakens the light beam. Keeping the headlights clean will ensure that the full power of the lights is as bright as possible.
While keeping the exterior is important to ensure full visibility and bright, shining lights, keeping the interior clean is just as important. Debris from the interior collects in the air vents and filters. Clogs will lead to issues with the AC system. Unsecured items can move around in transit or act as dangerous projectiles in the case of a collision. Stress the importance of keeping a clean car to your young drivers.
5. Get familiar with fluids.
It’s important for young drivers to get familiar with certain aspects found under the hood. Point out where all fluids are located, and ensure that your teen driver understands the levels they must maintain.
When a young driver knows where to locate and how to check fluid levels, they’ll be able to fix any minor issues and avoid worsening the problem by topping off the appropriate fluid.
At the very least, teaching your teen where to locate fluids and how to determine the correct levels will enable him or her to intelligently communicate with a mechanic if need be.
6. Do brake checks.
While you should let your trusted mechanic add brake fluid, it does help to teach your teens the signs that the vehicle is having issues with the brakes. Rumbling, screeching, and difficulty applying the brake are signs that your young driver needs to be aware of. They all signal that the car’s brakes are in need of repair.
7. Check the battery.
The number one reason roadside emergency is called is because of dead batteries. The last thing a parent wants is their young driver to become stranded on the side of the road. Generally, batteries last between three and five years.