Guest Blog: What I Am Teaching My Child About Cars, So They Won’t Be Just Another Statistic

By Patty Moore, blogger @WorkMomLife on Twitter!

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I get a lot of contributed post inquiries for this site, so when Patty from Working Mother Life dropped a line I was intrigued. The connection between a single mom blogger and Stance Is Everything wasn’t immediately apparent so I asked Patty what she had in mind.

Unlike a lot of people who submit Patty came prepared with an idea that resonated with me. She reminded me that most ‘millennials’ have no idea how to change their own oil or tires. Worse still they don’t even know how to get their car repaired without getting ripped off.

Since high school (many moons ago) I’ve always felt that auto shop should have been a mandatory course, considering how many people depend on cars day in and day out.

That ideal is, I’m told, unrealistic so maybe parents like Patty are what we should hope for. Take it away Patty…

For teens, getting their driver’s license is a rite of passage, a giant step towards the independence they so covet. For parents, it’s the beginning of a bad dream – higher insurance costs, late-night worrying, the inevitable dings or worse. It does get easier – teens learn by experience everyday and parents become more comfortable handing over the keys. For many parents it’s enough that their kids know how to get themselves home safely. However, that’s just the beginning. What your kids don’t know about driving cars could wind up costing you and them more money and trouble than you bargained for.

With my 20/20 hindsight glasses on I can see a number ways that, if I had only known better, I could have saved myself a lot of frustration, heartache and money. I was an only child and my dad died a year before I got my license, so I had no one around to teach me what I needed to know about cars. I missed a big opportunity in high school when I opted for wood shop instead of auto shop. Oh sure, I could drive. I was a great driver. But, as the years went by, it became clear that I really knew nothing about cars and I paid a big price. Intent on not letting that happen to my child, here is what I believe all parents should teach their children.

Car Maintenance for Kids

I find it interesting that 42 percent of young adults would give up manually driving a car for a self-driving car. Maybe it’s because it will be one less thing they have to do – drive. Regardless of who is driving the car, it still requires maintenance. Car maintenance can be very expensive, especially if you don’t keep up with it. Forty percent of those same young adults said they were surprised by the high cost of maintenance. I don’t want me child to be surprised by anything, so I taught them some basic maintenance tips.

Tour under the hood. Give them a tour under the hood, pointing out the key parts that make the car run and what happens when they aren’t working properly–spark plugs, battery, air filter, etc. Don’t go too far into the weeds because you will want to quiz them by asking them to identify the parts.

Check fluids and tire pressure. Point out the various fluid sticks and explain why it’s important to check all of the fluids, including the oil, transmission, coolant and window wiper fluid. Make sure there is a tire pressure gauge in the car and teach them the importance of maintaining the proper tire pressure. This should be done on a monthly basis. If any of the fluids need filling or replacing, walk your teens through the steps.

Change the oil. When done on schedule, using the right grade of oil, changing the oil can extend the life of the car. Nearly one-third of young adults don’t know how to change the oil in their car. With all of the drive-through oil change shops, that may not be a big deal, but it is important that your teen drivers know how it’s done because it’s one more way to save money.

Change a tire. There is some comfort in knowing that 80 percent of young adults do know how to change a tire. Don’t let your kids be part of the 20 percent who don’t. With cell phones and roadside assistance you may not think there is a need, but flat tires don’t always occur within range of cell phone service.

Get a repair quote. When you need to take your car in for repairs, teach your kids how to get an honest quote. The Internet is their friend and they can use it to get online estimates from sites like RepairPal.com. They can also search Edmunds.com’s Car Maintenance Guide for an estimate. In searching for a garage, they can use Yelp.com to find the ones with the best ratings and reviews. Finally, teach them how to call a garage to get an estimate and let them know you are shopping around.

The best time to start teaching your kids about cars is when they first show an interest in them. I sleep a little better at night knowing my kid knows their way around cars.

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