Another round of Drivers’ Education classes start in the next few weeks in communities across Minnesota, and St Michael / Albertville (Go Knights!) is no exception. Getting a driver’s license is a pretty big deal for most kids, and it is a means to more independence for many teens. With the privilege of driving, also comes new responsibilities, including driving safely, understanding the laws and rules of driving and transportation, and accountability. Below are some outstanding education and maintenance tips we think will help any new driver (regardless of age or experience) stay safely on the road.
1. Read the Owner’s Manual – Most of us have never read an owner’s manual from front to back, so I wouldn’t suggest that to your new driver, either. HOWEVER… they should browse through it enough to become familiar with the different sections and topics, so that if and when they have car trouble or something seems not quite right, they know where to start looking for answers. It will also help them navigate conversations about their car and how it works with others, including their parents and / or a mechanic.
2. Gauge the Gauges – Teaching your new driver to understand what the various gauges are for the car(s) they are driving, what they tell the driver AND what can go wrong if they are ignored is one of the most important things a new driver can know.
3. Change the Oil – This is the most important maintenance item for any vehicle out there. Newer cars have different mileage thresholds for changing the oil, so be sure that you and your new driver both know the manufacturer requirements for your cars and that they help keep track of when the oil needs to be changed and that it gets done.
4. Pay Attention to the Other Fluids – Cars have several different kinds of fluids that need to be properly maintained, and every driver needs to be aware of this. Teach them to monitor them and also how to physically check said fluid levels. Show them how to check the oil, the coolant reservoir, power steering and brake fluid reservoirs. Create a regular schedule with your driver about checking these fluids, even if the car is running smoothly.
5. Road Safety Kits for Car and Driver – We often tell our kids the importance of a winter driving kit for their own safety, but we should also teach them to keep some essentials in their car for it’s sake, as well. Things to include: containers of car specific fluids (oil, windshield wiper fluid, coolant, etc,), paper towels, gloves, a funnel, flashlight and jumper cables to name a few. Tuck it in a crate in their trunk and they will be prepared for more situations than they other wise would be, including helping out a stranded friend.
6. Check Tires and Lights – Teach your new driver how to check the air pressure in their tires when they do their scheduled fluid checks. Another good lesson is to show them how to evaluate the tread on their tires using a penny. Simply insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it’s time to replace your tires.
7. Take Care of the Battery – Batteries are one of the main reasons most drivers end up stranded, and this can be especially scary for new drivers. Have the battery charge checked whenever the oil is changed, and teach them the importance of not running their battery down while listening to music, etc., when the car is on but not running.
These seven items are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding car maintenance and repair prevention, but it will get them off to a good start.
When you bring in your car to Precision Auto for most types of service, we issue a digital inspection report that evaluates the health of your car, and lets you know what items need to be taken care of now, in the near future, or that are working well. The categories and items on this report can also be a great way to help educate your new driver about the care and maintenance of their car.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call!
Rob Rich, Owner, Precision Auto Repair