When I taught my teen how to drive last summer, she learned more than just the mechanics of driving a stick shift and the rules of the road. She also learned some basic auto maintenance tips to keep her 25-year-old Toyota truck running smoothly. Knowing how to take care of basic maintenance issues prevents headaches out on the road.
Pump gas safely
Without some instruction from Mom or Dad, teens won’t know what kind of fuel their car requires nor how to pump their own gas safely. Learning how to release (or unlock) the gas cap is important too.
Check the oil
I taught my teen how to check the oil in her truck every time she stops for gas. Understanding what the oil gauges mean, checking the oil level regularly and knowing how and what type of oil to add will keep the engine running smoothly.
Refill washer wiper fluid
At the filling station is also a good time to check the fluid levels in the washer wiper fluid reservoir. My teen keeps a spare gallon of washer fluid in her truck tool box so she can top off the reservoir as needed. She also knows how to clear out the spray nozzles with the tip of a safety pin in case of clogs.
Replace the wiper blades
The rubber edge of windshield wipers wear out quickly and should be replaced at least twice a year. We taught our teen how to shop for wiper blades and how to install them so she can tackle this easy repair herself instead of paying a mechanic to do the job.
Air in the tire
Proper air pressure in the tires improves performance, saves fuel, and increases tire life. Our teen knows how to measure tire pressure with a gauge and how to fill the truck’s tires with the proper amount of air. She also knows to check her spare regularly.
Use jumper cables
For those times when the battery has died and the car needs to be jumped, knowing how to use jumper cables safely will get her back on the road immediately.
Add coolant/radiator fluid
With older vehicles especially, knowing where to add coolant or radiator fluid is a vital skill that any motorist should know, especially if you live in a hot, arid locality like our family does.
When the lights, blinkers, or other signals no longer work, it’s often a blown fuse that’s the culprit. Replacing a blown fuse is an easy maintenance task that takes seconds to perform.
Replace a flat tire
Even though we belong to AAA, calling for emergency road service isn’t always possible, especially when traveling through a remote part of the state or four-wheeling up in the mountains. Our teen knows how to replace a flat tire for those times she’s out of cell phone range and unable to call for help.
Wash and wax regularly
Keeping the car clean with regular washing and vacuuming will also help extends its life. If your teen has a newer car, learning how to wax and polish the car will keep the paint looking like new.
Even though our teen brings her truck to a lube center every 3000 miles, these 10 basic maintenance tips are important skills to learn especially in a rural state like ours where help could be hours away. My teen keeps her emergency supplies and things like jumper cables, fuses, coolant, motor oil, water, flares, and other tools in a truck bed tool box where they are secure yet easy to reach in case of an emergency.
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