One of the most exciting times for parents and their kids is the day they start driving. While terrifying at times for parents, this down-side is met with excitment when parents realize they don’t have to drive their kids to every single school function, extra curicular activity or social gathering. One of our responsibilities as parents is also arming our kids with the basics in car care. It’s important to give them good practices so they know what can go wrong and how they can confidently handle issues that arise. At our Indianapolis new and used tire shop, we see all kinds of damages that teens could have prevented.

Here are some basic car care tips to put in your teen’s toolbox.

What Do The Gages Say – Run through the gages with your teen and explain why each is important. Use your owners manual to help them identify what gage goes with what piece of mechanical equipment under the hood. Then roll through the consequences if they ignore any of these gages. This step will ensure your teen doesn’t come back to you with the excuse, “but I didn’t know.”

Discuss The Roll of an Oil Change – Adults are pretty aware about how an oil change impacts the longevity of a vehicle but your teens don’t. Explain what happens to the engine if the vheicle doesn’t have oil and then show them the price tag for such an event. When they attach their own money-making abilities to the cost of repairing something so significant, they might just pay attention to thier oil gage closer. The basics of getting an oil change are 3-months or every 3,000 miles.

Fluid Functions– Pop the hood and show your teen how to do the basics. This includes adding wiper fluid, coolant, and oil. This will give you piece of mind that your teen can handle these basic tasks when you’re not with them.

Teach Them About Their Tires – Identitfy from your owners manual or tire center how much air pressure should be in the tires. Teach them about how to inspect their tires and how the tread should look. They should also understand how the seasons changing can impact the air pressure. If in doubt, bring your teen to our Indianapolis tire shop and we will give them a lesson on all things tires.

Visual Communication Check – The only way we can communicate with each other on the road is through our lights (or our horn when we are in a pinch) so paying close attention to the vehicles lighting systems is important. Ask your teen how often they feel they should be checking to ensure all of their lights are functioning correctly and help them put a reminder in their cell phone to do this every other month.

Jump to Teach Teens About Jumping – Dead batteries are one of the most common car care troubles around. While they might be able to call someone to help them, they should be familiar with how to jump their battery safely. Walk through the steps and ask them to do it a few times on their own with your supervision. Then, make a plan to revist that lesson every 6-8 months until it’s second nature to them.

Take a Break – Explain the vheicles braking system to your teen so they know what to expect from the ware, damage, and warning signs when brakes need attention. Let them in on how the brakes should “feel” (solid not squishy) and how they should sound or function (no vibrations, etc.) Don’t be surprised if you need new breaks sooner than average when it comes to a new driver, they tend to be brake happy.

License and Registration Please – While your teen’s driver ed courses goes over many of these things, take the time and explain the BMV to your teen and why they need to pay attention to the mail they receive from this department and how to connect with it online. Help them understand how to stay current on their registration and go over the in’s and out’s of their duty to be insured. Finally, discuss what they need to do if they ever get pulled over by Indiana law enforcement.

We hope that these tips have given you some inspiration when talking with your teens about their vehicle responsibilities. We know it can be nerve-racking to have a new driver in the family (we’ve been there, and we’ll go through it a few more times ourselves) but arming them with as much information as possible helps you feel better about the time they spend on Indiana roadways.