Preparing your teen how to drive also means teaching them the fundamentals of basic car maintenance. Of course, while they’ll be squarely focused on getting behind the wheel — and the independence that driving affords them — you must also stress the importance of keeping their car in safe, working condition.
Don’t be afraid of getting under the hood and performing these tasks together. In fact, you may want to get a head start by teaching your teen about car maintenance and basic repairs well before they earn their driver’s license. But like anything in life, providing them with hands-on experience will be much more effective than showing them a video or online tutorial.
Plus, these lessons offer a great excuse to spend quality time together (something that’s probably already in short supply). Here are five basic maintenance skills to teach your teen before they earn that coveted driver’s license.
1. Changing a Flat
Heck, you could likely use a refresher in this arena yourself, as changing a flat tire is an essential skill for any driver. And although you’ll want to pay for a roadside assistance service like AAA for your teen, it’s always beneficial for motorists to know how to change out a flat tire themselves., especially if they’re in a pinch. Additionally, make sure you also teach your teen the importance of caring for their spare tire, as well as how and where to safely pull over to change it out.
2. Checking Your Tire Pressure
Of course, you can help avoid flats by regularly checking the air pressure in your tires. Experts suggest inspecting your tires every two visits to the gas station when filling up on fuel. Knowing this, make sure your teen has a spare tire gauge in their vehicle, and show them how to assess whether their tires have the proper pressure to operate on the open road.
Additionally, you’ll want to instruct your teen driver how to spot certain issues with their tires, including low treads or any bumps or cracks. If you deem the issue serious enough, head to a local tire dealer or visit an online retailer like TireBuyer.com to find quality tires at affordable prices.
3. Topping Off Your Engine Oil
Besides understanding how to change a flat tire, knowing how and when to change out your oil is also an important skill to acquire. Experts suggest checking your oil levels every other time you need to fill up your car with gas. When it comes to changing out your oil, you’ll want to show your son or daughter:
- Where to locate the oil dipstick
- The optimal level of oil that shows up on the dipstick
- How to top off their oil if the level is low
You’ll also want to make sure your teen driver always carries a quart of oil in their vehicle in case of an emergency.
4. Monitoring Your Car’s Fluids
Some of the same lessons above apply to changing out your vehicle’s depleted fluids. When checking oil levels, instruct your teen driver to also eyeball other fluid levels and how to replenish them if they’re low. Windshield wiper fluid is easy to refill and is important to maintain visibility, particularly while driving in the winter.
Additionally, teach your teen how to check coolant, brake, power steering and transmission fluids and the acceptable levels for each. These fluids should only be refilled or replaced under supervision.
5. Jumping a Car Battery
No one wants to get stuck with a dead battery in the dead of summer or winter. That’s why knowing how to jumpstart a dead or depleted car battery is a must to prevent your teen driver from being stranded. This skill can also help them become a good samaritan when other motorists find themselves in the same boat.
In addition to learning basic maintenance, encourage your teen driver to get regular tune-ups and how to spot car noises and behaviors that might signal trouble. Arming your teen driver with this knowledge will make you both feel much more comfortable, particularly as you watch them turn the key and drive away for the first time.