Your teen driver just got their license! It’s both exciting and a little terrifying. If you’re worried about your child’s safety behind the wheel, you’re not alone. One way to help ease your anxiety about your teen’s newfound freedom is to teach them some basic car repairs. This valuable knowledge will help make sure your teen driver stays safe out there on the road.
Oil is the blood of the car. Improper levels or dirty oil can cause poor performance and low fuel economy. If left for too long it can even damage the engine and other components of the car, making for a very costly trip to the mechanic.
Thankfully, checking oil is a simple process that every new driver should practice and memorize. It’s as simple as popping the hood and reading the dipstick. Oil should be light-colored and free of particles. Dark oil with particles in it is old and needs to be changed. If possible, show your teen examples of both dirty oil and clean oil. Have your child check the oil once a month and they will be much safer behind the wheel.
Changing Headlights and Wipers
There’s nothing worse than driving in the rain with a blown-out wiper, or at night with a burned-out headlight. Old windshield wipers leave streaks that reduce visibility in conditions that are already less than ideal, increasing the chance of an accident. Burned-out headlights make night driving dangerous and may even result in an expensive ticket.
Showing your teen driver how to change windshield wipers and headlight bulbs provides invaluable knowledge to keep them safe. Keep spares of each in the vehicle – you never know when they’ll be needed. Windshield wiper blades simply snap in, and most headlights can be changed by unplugging the wire under the hood and swapping the bulb. Some older cars may require a screwdriver to change the bulb, so check it out with your teen and make sure they know the steps for your specific vehicle.
Changing a Tire
Every driver should have a spare tire at all times and know how to change it in case of emergency. Make sure your teen’s car is equipped with a spare tire, a lug wrench and a jack. Proper jack positioning is essential to avoid damage. You may wish to mark the frame with paint or a marker so your child knows exactly where to place the jack.
Depending on the pattern of the lug nuts, they should be loosened and tightened in a certain sequence. Have your child memorize this pattern. In the event that your teen does have to install the spare tire, make sure to take the vehicle to a tire shop such as Discount Tire Centers to get a replacement tire at the earliest possible convenience, as “donut” spare tires are not to be used long-term.
For a newly licensed teen, there’s nothing like the freedom of being behind the wheel. For a parent, there’s nothing like the anxiety of wondering whether your child is safe. With this basic car repair knowledge, your teen driver will have the skills to handle whatever the road throws at them.