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Basic Car Maintenance Every Teen Driver Should Know

Many teens get their driving permit or even their drivers license without knowing anything about basic car maintenance. However, this knowledge can save them from a lot of headaches, and more importantly, from dangerous situations. For their own good, teens should know how to do the following:

1. Taking proper care of tires
Teach your teenage kids to keep their tires properly inflated at all times. Advice them to check their tires whenever they stop for gas. Instill this tip in their minds until they make a habit of it. Tires have a minimum and maximum pressure that all drivers should be aware of. Keeping within these limits significantly improves gas mileage. On the other hand, overinflated and underinflated tires wear out unevenly, resulting to shorter shelf life, which in turn leads to more frequent replacements. This costs more money, and also puts teens in danger of getting a busted tire while driving.

2. Changing the engine oil
Regularly changing the engine oil is an important maintenance task that all drivers -- including teens -- should know. This keeps the engine working in top condition. Failure to change oil will result in the accumulation of dirt and other contaminants, making the oil unable to lubricate the engine properly. As a result, the engine will wear out and fail much sooner than it should. Thus, teach your teenage kids how to change oil. It will take them only around half an hour to perform this task.

3. Checking the coolant
An overheated engine can suddenly stop at an inconvenient time and place. It's frustrating when this happens, especially since it's a scenario that can easily be avoided. Make sure to prop up the hood open and show your teenage kids where the coolant is and teach them how to check whether or not it's within range. It's a very easy and quick task that will save them a load of trouble caused by inadequate maintenance.

4. Knowing what the dashboard warning light means
The dashboard helpfully displays warning lights when something is working improperly or running low. These lights will inform teens when the oil needs to be changed, the engine needs to be checked, etc. Teach your teenage kids what these warnings means, and more importantly, teach them the right thing to do. You can refer to the owner's manual for the correct response for every warning light.

5. Monitoring the fuel gauge
Running out of fuel is a simple mistake, but it's such a hassle if this happens miles away from the nearest gas station. Teach your kids not to procrastinate when it comes to getting fuel. As much as possible, keep at least a quarter tank of gas or diesel, especially when driving over long distances.

6. Keeping the lights shining brightly
Drivers use the car lights to communicate with fellow drivers, so driving with faulty or broken lights can lead to accidents. Your teenage kids should understand that when they have problems with lights, they should get those fixed or replaced right away. To make sure that the lights are working properly, tell your teenage kids to perform a weekly check at night.

7. Cleaning the car
A regular car wash will make a vehicle cleaner and safer. A dirty windshield can get in the way of driving especially in conditions with less-than-ideal visibility, such as rain, fog, or nightfall. Even teens with perfect vision will have a harder time navigating with a dirty windshield. Advise your teenage kids to get regular car washes -- or wash their cars themselves. Also, tell them to keep a bottle of washer fluid in the trunk in case they need to clean off a splattered bug, or sticky bird's poo.

As a parent, you play a big part in molding your teenage kids to become responsible drivers. They will carry over what they learn in their teenage years to adulthood. Remember, responsible drivers are not born; they're made.