What to Teach Your Teen About Car Maintenance

Aug 02, 2019 09:39 AM EDT | Ernest Hamilton


If you have a teenager who's preparing to drive, there is a lot to think about. First, your teen will have to study and take driver's education. 

The permit and license tests can be more challenging than you might initially realize, and the test questions are not just common sense. 

Beyond preparing for the tests, what else as a parent should you be doing to help your teen get ready to drive?

Teach them about car maintenance.

Car maintenance is something a lot of parents don't think about teaching their kids, but it can go a long way in terms of safety, life skills, and preparedness, and also extending the life of the car your teen is going to drive.

The following are some of the basics you should teach your teen about car maintenance.

Show Your Teen What's Under the Hood of a Car

Many people, including not just teens but adults, have no idea what it looks like under the hood of their car.

While your teen doesn't need to be a professional mechanic, they should be familiar with what's going on under there and the main components of a car. 

You can show them where the fluids are they will need to regularly check, and this kind of orientation will help your teen be more educated when they have to visit a mechanic.

Other things to point out under the hood include the air filter, because it does have to be changed sometimes, and the battery. The battery can't be super dirty or corroded. Plus, there may be times when a battery change or even a jump is needed, so having a general idea of what's going on with the battery is valuable. 

Oil Changes

Oil changes are something it's easy for a lot of us to forget about, or put on the back burner, but they're important.

Convey this importance to your teens, so they know when it needs to be done, and they know that it isn't something to put off when it's time.

There are a few factors that determine how often an oil change is needed. 

The first factor is how often your teen drives and the second is the type of car.

Once your teen starts bringing their car to get the oil changed if they always go to the same place, they can create a regular maintenance schedule.

Along with showing your teen how to get an oil change, you should teach them how to check their oil level, and recommend they do so once a month especially if they're going to be driving an older car. 

As well as checking the oil on a pretty regular basis, your teen should be able to check their tire tread regularly and make sure their belts and wiper blades are in good shape. 


A car tune-up is another type of regular maintenance. These are usually scheduled once a year at a minimum.

This is considered preventative maintenance, and it usually involves replacing some of the car components that have the most wear and tear. 

The recommendation is to get a car tuned up every 30,000 miles, but you should refer to the manual for your specific vehicle or the one your teen will be driving. 

Changing a Tire

You might not even know how to change a tire, but if you don't, it's worth learning and teaching your teen as well. 

When your teen knows how to change their own tire, it can help save both time and money 

There are different tire-related situations you will want to go over as well as teaching your teen to change the tire.

For example, teach your teen how to deal with a blowout versus just a general flat tire. 

Even if there's no apparent issue with tires, teens should be able to check on them regularly.

For example, tires need to be kept at the right pressure for safety reasons. 

Finally, teach your teen to be aware of what's going on with their brakes. Sometimes, the sounds that come with breaks that need repairs can be more subtle than if something is going on with, let's say the engine. 

The brakes may feel spongy or your teen may hear a screeching sound and think it's not important to deal with. 

Teach your teen what's normal and what isn't with the brakes. 

When you educate your teen on cars and car maintenance, it's something valuable, and the knowledge can help them for a lifetime, so take the time to do it. 

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