When you are teaching a teenager to drive, you’re naturally focused on some of the most important things about being behind the wheel. Maybe you’re constantly shouting, “The brake is on the left. The LEFT!”
But somewhere in the middle of showing your teenager how to drive and handing them the car keys to motor off to who knows where on their own, you really should show your teenager how to take care of a car especially if they have their own vehicle. You don’t want to someday pick up your child that is waiting for you on the side of the road, and learn that they’ve never had the oil changed.
So, with that in mind, here a few things you will want to remind your teenager to do when taking care of a car.
Get the oil changed. We’ll start with the easiest and most obvious thing first. Changing the engine oil. You know it’s important. Your teenager probably knows, too, but if you never discuss getting an oil change, your child may not think about taking it in to a Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission to get it changed. And how often does the oil need to be changed? That really depends on the car (check the owner’s manual) and how much your teen drives. Of course, if your teenager has a car and brings it into Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission, we can set them up on a regular maintenance schedule.
It’s important to show your teenager how to check his or her oil level and suggest to them that they check it at least once a month, especially if it’s an older car. Also point out that if they notice any leaks, they should get their car checked out right away.
Talk about engine tune-ups. It’s easy to forget since it isn’t a regular maintenance activity in the way that an oil change is. We suggest getting a vehicle tuned up every 30,000 miles or as required by the manufacturer (in other words, check the owner’s manual). Of course, if you notice your gas mileage is way off, or the car isn’t starting very well, or the engine seems to be acting up, bring it in for a tune-up. These are all obvious things a veteran driver knows, but a teenager may not. Especially if your son or daughter is driving a used vehicle, maybe the car never started all that well, and if it’s getting worse, they may think that’s normal. In fact, if you do get your child a used vehicle, you’d be smart to get it tuned-up at Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission before he or she drives it. Further, if you’re looking to buy a used car for your teen, and you get a chance to bring the car over to Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission before you make a purchase, our certified technicians would be glad to do a visual check and give you a condition report on the vehicle so you can decide whether you’re getting a car that seems reliable or one that will be visiting our shop all the time.
Discuss brakes. Just as you want your teenager to be on alert if the engine makes an unusual or weird sound, he or she should know the warning signs when the brakes aren’t doing well, like when the brake pedal feels spongy. Your teen may hear screeching when braking, think it’s not a big deal and never mention it until the noise is too loud to ignore. Make sure they understand that it’s not normal if you’re pressing down on the brake and the car starts vibrating. Seriously, while plenty of teenagers are high achieving students and good drivers, they’re not born knowing how cars work.
Show them what’s under the hood.
It’s a good idea for your teenager to understand what and where things are under the hood. Point out the air filter, and how it needs to be changed when it gets dirty. Show them the battery and explain that you don’t want corrosion on the battery connections and the connections should be tight. Discuss the coolant overflow and where the coolant should be based on engine temperature. In general, people don’t work on their car engines like they used to, now that they’ve become so computerized and complicated. But there are still important components car owners need to check and be aware of.
While you’re at it, you may also want to discuss windshield wipers. Wiper blades can look like new but won’t clear the glass when it rains. They are easy to forget since you don’t use them every day. Of course, once they’re ripped or cracked, it’s time to get new ones. It’s far safer driving in the rain with dependable wipers than wiper blades that barely do the job.
Have a plan for what your teen should do if he or she gets stuck running out of gas or with a flat tire. Help them understand that their safety is your primary concern. If they get a flat tire in an area of road where pulling off to a safe location is not available, then instruct them to drive carefully to where they can get the car off the road to a safe location. Where their safety would be a risk help them to understand it would be better to risk damaging the tire and wheel to drive the vehicle to a safe location. You can teach them how to use the tools in the car to change a tire, you can pay for a service like AAA or just have them call you in case they run out of gas or have a blowout. No matter which plan you have their safety is priority. There’s a lot to remember when it comes to maintaining a vehicle but having a strategy for car problems (and what to do if there something does go wrong) may help reduce some of their panic and yours.
Empower your teen to be observant of their vehicle. Using all of their senses to notice something different about their vehicle will help them to avoid bigger issues. Our technicians use all their senses every day to identify and diagnose vehicle issues. Be aware of changes to how your vehicle sounds, smells, feels or looks. Whenever your teen or you have questions about your vehicle please bring is to Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission for a complimentary Safety Check.