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6 Car Care Tips That Teens Should Do Themselves

Basic Vehicle Maintenance (And More) For Teens

Got teenage drivers in your house? Then teach them a thing or two (or six) about basic vehicle maintenance. Jamie Little, who covers NASCAR for ESPN—and who was the first female pit reporter for the Indie 500— bought her first car in high school. Now, as the co-author of Essential Car Care for Women, she gives us her top car care tips:

1. Check the oil.

“It’s simple to do, and if it’s low, it’s easy to add more,” Little says. Ideally, your teenage driver should open the hood and check the oil level every four to six weeks.

2. Check the coolant.

You can check it just by looking at it and, like the oil, it’s a no-brainer to add more. Again, like the oil, make this a regular check.

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3. Check the tire tread.

“Bald tires can lead to big accidents,” Little warns. Teach your teenager the penny test. Stick the side of the penny with the top of President Lincoln’s head into the grooves on the tire tread. If any part of the head is obscured, your tread is fine. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires. Be sure to check all the tires in several spots.

4. Check the air pressure.

Low pressure can lead to accidents and add to the gas bill. (Keeping tires properly inflated will get you better gas mileage.) “Buy a tire gauge and learn to use it,” Little suggests. Check your driver’s manual for the right pressure per inch.

5. Clean the car, inside and out.

“By being expected to take care of the car, your teenager will learn to have pride in it,” Little recommends.

6. Keep talking to teenagers about putting the phone away while driving.

“It’s so tempting to text when you drive, so I recommend turning the phone off and putting it in a bag in the backseat or in the trunk,” says Little.

Want more? Consider asking your teenager to pay for the gas he or she uses and/or to contribute to the cost of insurance.

Jane Parent, former editor at Your Teen, is the parent of three.

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