Things to Consider Before Your Teen Starts Driving
Just around the corner, my daughter is going to be asking to run errands for me. Weird I know, a kid wanting to help out around the house. Even before her 15th birthday, she is asking who is going to teach her how to drive and which car she gets to drive. Me, I’m wondering about things like; does she know which kind of gas to put in the car? Does she know what a flat tire sounds like, will she pull over when it happens or keep driving for another 30 miles? These questions run through my mind every single time she grabs the keys to warm up the car before school. I never took a driver’s ed class, and my dad taught me all the basics of driving, but from there on out, I was on my own. Did you know that there was an arrow on the gas gauge telling you which side to fill up on? I didn’t know until my 20’s. Here are a few pointers to go over before letting your kid get behind the wheel. There are several basics to go over with your child but these are a few that I had to learn on my own that I wish I had someone else show me.
You may find it easy to check tire pressure, but some very smart people I know have never held a pressure gauge in their hand before. I can fill a tire up but I still double guess myself on how much pressure my tires need. Next time you are at a gas station have your child fill up the tire and when they ask how full to fill it don’t just say till it looks full. That’s what my mom taught me. Show them the sticker in the driver-side doorjamb and tell them they should check the pressure about once a month. I had to find all of that on my own!
Something that a driver needs to be aware of is fluid leaks. It is so easy to hit a bump in the road and knock something loose that can cause the engine to seize up. Not all cars will let you know what’s wrong on the dashboard so teach your child to keep and eye out for puddles under the car when pulling out of a parking spot. Some puddles are just the humidity running off the air coils so teach your child to look out for the colored puddles.
MONTHLY OIL CHECK
I had a 77’ ELCamino when I started out on my own, and one day I came to a stop at a stop light, and the hood started knocking. I had no idea what was wrong. I forced my ElCamino 10 blocks to a gas station to call my dad. (Back then cell phones were a rarity, and you were awesome if you had a pager.) He had to drive 45 minutes to help me and knew what was wrong as soon as he popped the hood. I didn’t have any oil. My car wasn’t leaking oil but was burning it up. I had just gotten an oil change two months before; I thought it was in tune. Another mistake I could have avoided if I had been taught to keep checking on fluids monthly.
Number one reason for teens to be stranded is due to not paying attention to the gas gauge till it is too late. Teach your child to never drive around on less than a quarter tank and to have a clean emergency gas can in the trunk for the times they forget to check. Some older vehicles can go from 1/4 tank to empty within 20 miles. My gauge was stuck on half a tank, so I ran out of gas more times than I would like to admit. But yet it was a lesson I had to learn on my own.
Again there are a lot of pointers to teach your child, but these basic tips will help your child stay on the road and not get stranded. I hope I can help my daughter with all the knowledge of driving a car and how to keep her car drivable but I know one day she will be giving me a call to bring her gas. It happens to the best of us.