Basic Used Car Maintenance for New Drivers

Basic Used Car Maintenance for New Drivers

Do you have a new driver in your household? Having a teenage driver can be both fun and a challenge. Teaching kids responsibility takes on new meaning once they begin driving and even more so when they take possession of their first car. Here are some tips to keep your kids safe on the road by teaching them the basics of car care for new drivers.

Teach Safety First

First thing’s first: safe driving. Teach your new drivers to give their undivided attention to driving and following the rules of the toad. New teen drivers 16-17 years old are three times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash. 60% of teen crashes are caused by distracted drivers — either from talking to other passengers or from interacting with their smartphones. So, no texting — no phone use at all. Always wear your seatbelt (60% of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing their seat belt) and abide by speed limits (30% of fatal crashes involving teens involved speeding.

Pay Attention to Your Dashboard

Your car’s dashboard warning light system was designed to let you know when something is amiss under the hood. While not a foolproof system, these lights certainly shouldn’t be ignored. Pull out the owner’s manual for your vehicle and go over what each light and warning signals.

On some cars, the color and type of light could indicate the severity of the problem. For example, a steady yellow light means a problem should be serviced soon while a steady red light is a serious issue that needs immediate attention. The lesson here is that when a signal lights up, it’s time to take action.

Regularly Check Your Tires

Your vehicle’s tires not only keep you safe on the road but they also help your vehicle achieve favorable gas mileage. You should check your tire pressure often, making sure that each tire is within the proper parameters for your car. You can find this information either inside your owner’s manual or affixed to your driver’s side door edge.

Also, inspect the tread depth of your tires and your sidewalls for wear and damage. Finally, proper balancing and alignment will extend the life your vehicle’s wheels.

Check Your Oil

Your vehicle’s engine oil is essential to keeping your car’s parts moving smoothly and efficiently. Not only should you schedule regular oil changes for your vehicle, but you should also periodically check your car’s oil as a practice.

At least every few hundred miles, check your car’s oil. With your engine off, raise the hood and look for the oil dipstick. Pull the dipstick all the way out and wipe it with a rag. Re-insert the dipstick entirely and then take it out again. Now, check the oil level against the markers on the dipstick.

If your oil is low, add the right kind according to your manufacturer’s recommendation. You should also inspect oil for grittiness. If it is gritty, this is a problem, and your car needs servicing. Also, your car’s oil should be changed regularly depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle.

Know Your Car and Be Mindful of Changes

In addition to regular maintenance, you should also become as “tuned in” as possible to the workings of your vehicle. When you do this, you’ll be able to quickly notice when doesn’t feel, sound, or even smell right so that you can have the problem addressed before it becomes a bigger issue. These glitches could be something as small as changing an air filter or as serious as a problem with your brakes or transmission.

Being a new driver is an exciting time, but it also comes with great responsibility. These tips will help prepare your child for a lifetime of safe driving and proper car care. By taking care of their vehicle, they’ll get more miles out of each car and save on expensive repair bills down the road.

For more information on basic car maintenance, check out our other articles on Tire Rotation & Alignment, Oil Changes & Filters, Essential Fluids, and Winter Car Care.