For many teenagers, having your own car is a certain and necessary rite of passage — or at least it once was for many young adults. Not so long ago, our parents and grandparents worked part-time jobs to afford their first junker at age 16 and took care of everything under the hood.
It may sound cliche, but those were different times. In fact, the average annual cost to own a car just five years ago was $9,000, with a bulk of that figure going to fuel and insurance costs, according to AAA. However, a growing piece of that pie now goes toward routine maintenance and repairs — and it's a price many young people simply cannot afford.
These days, with the demands of high school and partaking in enough (and the right) extracurricular activities to strengthen their college resume, many teens simply don't have enough time in their day to have a part-time job in order to pay for a set of wheels. And they certainly haven't mastered any maintenance and repair skills.
Oh, the times they are a-changin'. Regardless, it's time to take back some of that wisdom and hand it down to today's younger generation. With that in mind, here are three auto repair and maintenance tips of which every teen should be aware.
1. Applying a Proper Polish & Wax
Everyone should have the tools and knowledge to skip the $100-$200 detail and perform it at home. But, at the very least, knowing how to apply a good polish and wax is something your teen should know about, as it will help protect the paint on their car for years to come.
While this practice can be performed on virtually any vehicle, it's usually done on older vehicles that have light scratches and other minor imperfections. Before long, those abrasions are gone, and you have a new, protective coat of wax that will make your car sparkle. However, know that you should only polish your car sparingly to prevent wearing down the paint.
2. Changing & Repairing a Tire
The number of people who rely on AAA or another roadside assistance service to change a flat tire must be staggering. What should be the most basic repair for every driver is a complete mystery to many. A good, quality set of all-weather tires shouldn't give your teen much trouble, but everyone will experience a flat at some point.
Of course, every car comes with the basic tools to change a flat tire, so make sure your teen's ride is properly equipped before they hit the open road. But beyond knowing how to change a flat tire, make it a point to sit down with your teen and explain how to purchase a spare through websites like TireBuyer.com.
Additionally, your teen should know how to use a basic tire repair kit, which is perfect and comes in handy when fixing any small punctures that aren't on or near the sidewall.
3. Performing an Oil Change
More often than not, owners of newer cars that are under warranty will take their ride to a dealership for any service and repair. But there's really no reason to take an older vehicle to a dealership or mechanic just for an oil change. This isn't a tune-up or transmission flush.
In fact, changing out a car's oil is super simple stuff and, like adding a new coat of polish or wax, there are tons of YouTube tutorials covering hundreds of different car types. All your teen needs for this project is a set of basic tools, lift and jack stands, oil and a catch pan. That's it. Once your teen's car warranty is up, it's time to start doing this at home.
These three, general auto repair and maintenance skills may seem routine and simple for an older generation, but they're skills lost on today's younger generation. With that in mind, sit down with your teen to determine what they already know and which lesson you still need to impart to them.
This way, your teen driver is bound to take more pride and better overall care of their vehicle in their formative years and in the future.