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There are few things more exciting in a young person's life than getting behind the wheel of their first car. But of course, not every teenager knows what they need to do when it's time to get under the hood of that same vehicle. As a parent, it's up to you to make sure your kid knows everything they need to know about car maintenance before heading out on the open road. That doesn't mean they need to be able to take apart and then reassemble an engine, but they should at least know the basics. If you're not so sure of them yourself, here's a good opportunity to brush up. But make sure you have a firm grasp of them before letting your kid try anything out.

Checking the tires Your vehicle's tires can be one of its most important features, so make sure your teen knows how to take care of them, advised KidsHealth.org. They should check their tire pressure on a monthly basis, as under-inflated tires can suck up their vehicle's fuel economy and also put them at a greater risk for an accident. Normally, they can check their vehicles' recommended tire pressure by opening the driver's side door and reading the little sticker found on the inside. Look for the "PSI" or pounds per square inch level - that's the number tire gauges use when reading your tire's pressure. It can also be found on the tire itself, you'll just have to look carefully.

Once you and your teen driver know how inflated your tires should be, teach them how to use a tire gauge. If you don't have one yourself, head to a nearby gas station and use the tire pressure stand normally located outside. If their tires are low on air, show them how to fill them back up.

Changing the tires
This is another vital piece of car maintenance your teen driver should know. They'll need the right tools, so supply them with a car jack, a tire wrench and of course an inflated spare tire. Instruct them to first raise the car with the jack near the flat tire. They should then loosen each lug nut slightly first, then go back and take them all off completely. When putting on the new tire, they should likewise tighten each one slightly, then go back and tighten them all more securely the second time around.

Checking fluids
Your teen driver needs to know how to check their own fluids, which can include engine oil, transmission fluid, windshield wiper solution, brake fluid and engine coolant. Make sure they have some rags on hand in the vehicle so they can keep their hands clean. And don't forget - you can only check the transmission fluid with a hot engine.

Filling up
Though it seems obvious, many kids let their vehicle's gas tank get nearly empty before filling up again. It's not a good idea to run an engine on such little gasoline, so advise your teen to fill up often and work to avoid letting their gas level drop below a quarter tank. Driving constantly on anything lower could compromise key engine parts.


Keep a notebook handy
This will help your teen driver keep on top of their maintenance responsibilities. Have them record when they check their fluids or perform routine maintenance, and then check the notebook periodically to make sure they're keeping up on their obligation. Maintaining a vehicle can be the difference between safe driving or a having to file an auto insurance claim.
 
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