A Different Kind Of Driver's Ed: Four Things Teen Drivers Should Know How To Do

Posted on: 6 November 2014

Your teenager is ready to drive. All testing is done and his/her license has been successfully obtained. Perhaps your teen is even one of the lucky ones who gets his/her own car. But with that car comes responsibilities far beyond driving safely and putting gas in it. There are things your child should know how to do that they don't always teach in Driver's Education. It's probably going to be up to you to make sure your child knows how to do the things listed below.

How to change a tire

Yes, you can get your kiddo an auto club membership. In fact, doing say may even be advisable. But that doesn't mean your teen shouldn't have a clue what to do in a tire emergency. Auto club isn't always available. Things to teach your kiddo should include:

  • What constitutes a "safe place" to pull over (a quiet shoulder, a well-lit area, never mid-traffic)
  • Where the spare, lug wrench, and jack are located (in the trunk and/or under a seat or both)
  • How to use the jack
  • How to use the lug wrench
  • How to remove the old tire
  • How to put on the new tire
  • If the tire isn't a full sized tire, he/she also needs to know the parameters of using the spare. (How fast and how far can the car be driven?)

How to check the oil

Regular oil changes, such as at Fleet Services, are a must, but your kiddo needs to know how to check the oil levels in his/her vehicle. This would include:

  • Where to find the dipstick (usually next to the engine block, clearly marked with a picture of an oil can)
  • How to prep the oil for a proper check by warming up the engine with a quick drive, then parking on a level surface and waiting 5 to 10 minutes to pop the hood.
  • How to remove the dipstick, wipe it down, and then reinsert it and remove it to read the oil levels.
  • How to read where the oil hits the dipstick and if an oil change is needed.

How to jump start the car

While you can buy kits that are basically error proof, it's still wise to learn how to use jumper cables. Your teen needs to know:

  • How to tell if the battery is really the issue (faded or dead lights are a good indicator)
  • How to hook up the cables to the dead battery and the jumper car (red clamp to positive terminal on the dead battery, other red clamp to positive terminal on the jump car; then black clamp to negative terminal on the jump car's battery, and finally, black clamp to unpainted steel surface on the dead car for grounding)
  • How to start the cars (good car first, then dead car)
  • How to remove the cables (reverse order)
  • How long it should take for the battery to return back to full working order (depends on the manufacturer)

How to check tire pressure

There are many different types of tire pressure gauges on the market, but your teen doesn't need anything fancy. Even the most basic gauge will tell you what you need to know: how much air is in your tires. Your teen needs to learn:

  • When to take a reading (when the car is cold, preferably after it's been sitting overnight)
  • How to remove the tire valve and insert the gauge (a hissing sound means there isn't a good seal and your reading won't be accurate.)
  • How to read and interpret the numbers on the gauge (the owner's manual of the car will tell you the ideal number you want. The number on the tire itself is often too high.)
  • How to insert air if necessary and recheck the pressure.

Driving comes with a lot of responsibility. If your teen is old enough to drive, he or she is also old enough for some handy lessons on how to help himself/herself in an emergency and how to maintain his/her car. It will bring you piece of mind to know that your child is well prepared.