Introducing your children to the freedom and responsibility that comes with driving can be an intimidating experience. New drivers must learn all the fundamentals of driving itself, as well as how to handle difficult scenarios and keep their vehicle safe in the long run.
Whether your teen driver drives his or her own car or relies on a family vehicle, it’s important to give your new driver the information necessary to keep that vehicle well maintained. In this blog, we cover six of the car care basics your teen driver must learn.
Check Tire Pressure and Inflate Tires
Correct tire pressure provides the most precise handling and quickest stopping. If the vehicle your teen drives has a pressure light, ensure that he or she recognizes what the light means when it comes on.
Whether or not the vehicle has a pressure sensor, put a pressure gauge in the glove box. Encourage your teen to check tire pressure at least once a month when the tires are cold (meaning they haven’t been driven on for three hours or more).
You may also want to provide a small amount of change to cover the first time your teen has to inflate the vehicle’s tires on his or her own.
Deal With a Blowout and Change a Tire
Having a tire blowout while driving can be scary for any driver. Teach your teen how to get off the road safely following the guidelines found in our previous blog, “3 Simple Rules for Handling a Tire Blowout on the Highway.”
Then, show your teen where the spare tire is in his or her vehicle. Teach your new driver how to operate a jack, remove an old tire, and install the spare. If possible, actually complete the tire-changing process so your child knows what feels normal in the situation.
Know When the Car Needs an Oil Change
One of the maintenance measures that new drivers often forget is the oil change. Old oil or an inadequate amount of oil can immediately begin to affect the vehicle’s efficiency and gas mileage.
Have your teen set reminders for when the oil needs to be changed. This reminder could be a sticker on the windshield from the mechanic, resetting the odometer, or a service log kept in the glove compartment.
Jump Start a Dead Battery
Equip your teen’s vehicle with a high-quality set of jumper cables. Ensure that your teen is familiar with the anatomy of their vehicle’s engine and can easily identify where he or she needs to clip the cables.
If you think your teen might forget which end of the cable goes where, write a little reminder note to go with the cables or mark the cables with a positive and negative sign (red cables attach to the positive side and black to the negative).
Replace Windshield Wipers
Any loss of visibility can affect a new driver’s confidence. One of the best ways to ensure that your teen’s windshield stays clear, even in inclement weather, is to ensure that the windshield wipers are replaced as needed.
You can find guidelines for when to replace the wipers and recommendations for buying new wipers in our previous blog, “Car Maintenance 101: Replacing Windshield Wiper Blades.” Most new wipers include instructions for removing the old wipers and installing the new ones on the packaging, but run through the process to ensure that your teen knows what he or she is doing.
Remind your teen to check that the wipers work correctly after installation before the next time he or she hits the road.
Respond to a Check Engine Light
The check engine light is somewhat of a catchall. The light can come on for numerous reasons, from the car needing an oil change to a loose gas cap.
Teach your teen to check the oil levels and gas cap when the light comes on. If these simple fixes do not resolve the issue, a mechanic or an automotive parts supplier can use a digital reader to look at the light’s code to determine its cause. If the car is making odd noises or smells, the issue should be assessed by a mechanic as soon as possible.
One of the best ways to impart the knowledge listed above is to provide hands-on instruction. The next time a vehicle in your household needs a tire changed, a routine service completed, or a repair performed, get your teen involved. Schedule routine maintenance ahead of time and bring your new driver along.
Knowing which professionals to trust for car maintenance can be just as important as identifying when maintenance is needed. Make sure that your teen knows which local service center you use, such as Evans Tire & Service Centers, and how to find a reputable automotive service center while out of town.