Most parents worry when their kids first get their driving license, because teenagers don't always make the best decisions, whether it's due to lack of experience or some other reason. You want your child to be as safe and as smart as possible with their first car and that probably won't happen if they don't know how to take care of the vehicle. Be tough about it now, so that your teen develops the habits that keeps their car running smoothly and gets them home safely every time.
1. Pay Attention To The "Service Engine Soon" Light
Especially with older vehicles, people sometimes think the dashboard warning lights go off and on without there actually being anything dire with the vehicle, but that's not usually the case. Don't let your teen get into the habit of ignoring the "Service Engine Soon" light or other indications of problems, like the oil and battery gauges. Ignoring these warnings could easily mean breaking down out in the middle of nowhere.
2. Avoid Being A Lead Foot
Not only does driving too fast waste gas and leave you vulnerable to getting a speeding ticket, driving too fast also puts unnecessary wear-and-tear on the vehicle. While your teenager may not realize they're going too fast or might even enjoy the thrill of higher speeds, they're not doing themselves or the vehicle any favors.
3. Keep An Eye On Tires
Most people, even those who have been driving for years, don't really keep an eye on their tires as closely as they should. Since tires can affect gas mileage, though, it's important that every car owner check on the tires frequently, ensuring proper inflation. Also, the wear-and-tear of the tires should be monitored, along with having the tires changed for winter at your local auto repair shop.
4. Stick To The Vehicle's Maintenance Schedule
Every vehicle should have a maintenance schedule, issued by the manufacturer. If the vehicle your teenage son or daughter bought didn't come with an owner's manual, look online for the schedule or try to get a fresh copy from the company that made the car or truck. Sticking to the maintenance schedule can avoid breakdowns and expensive repairs, especially if your teen is particularly rough on the vehicle. Things that will require regular maintenance include:
- Oil filters
- Brake fluid
- Brake pads
- Air filters
- More, depending on the vehicle type
Getting your child in the habit of following a routine vehicle maintenance schedule should follow them for life, helping them to care for every vehicle they own, so it can in turn, care for them.
5. Get To Know A Local Mechanic
Don't let your teen drive around without the number to a local auto repair shop. They could even stop in and introduce themselves to a local mechanic, explaining that this is their first vehicle and that if anything goes wrong with it, they'll be using that shop. Your son or daughter might also ask the mechanic for specific advice on their particular vehicle, too. Establishing this relationship now means having someone to turn to if and when the vehicle develops problems.
It's tough for parents of new drivers, but the more you teach your son or daughter from the beginning, the smarter and safer they'll be. Emphasize the importance of vehicle maintenance and be sure to adopt a trusted auto mechanic your whole family can depend on.