When you are teaching your teen to drive, you focus a lot on driving behaviours, since this presents one of the biggest dangers to a new driver. But how much time have you spent teaching them to take care of the car so that it functions properly? Even a safe driver can get in trouble if the car has problems. These skills, including checking tire tread and examining windshield wipers for wear, not only maintain the life of their vehicle but could possibly keep your teen from being the dangerous driver that they are training to avoid.
Tire tread depth indicates the health of a tire. It also predicts how the tire in question will perform in less than optimal weather conditions. While tread checks should be done every season, they are most likely only checked during a safety inspection. To check for healthy tread depth, insert a nickel into the tread with the Queen’s head upside down. If you can’t see the top of the crown, the tire is healthy and will likely perform well in wet or snowy conditions. If the tread shows the top of the crown, the tire needs to be replaced. Tires with this tread depth prevent the brakes from operating at maximum capacity and will cause a vehicle to slide and swerve in damp conditions. While you can still drive with tires in this condition, it is imperative that they be replaced, as they can no longer be guaranteed to perform as expected.
Windshield wipers are essential for driving in stormy conditions. Even if there isn’t a lot of moisture, other cars may kick up dirty water that leaves smears if not cleared properly. This happens every year as we head into Spring time and all of the snow on the road begins to melt. Excess debris or damage to the wiper blades reduces their ability to properly clear the windshield, making it difficult to see while driving. To check them for damage, inspect the blade. You can also tell if the wiper is getting worn out when you're using it. A wiper that starting to break down will leave streaks of fluid when being used. At this point you should think changing it soon. If it is torn in any way, replace the wiper immediately. This can easily be accomplished by following the directions provided with the new wipers. Many automobile part stores also provide windshield wiper replacement as a free service.
Make sure your teen possesses the tools necessary to change their tire. Stock the car with a jack, lug wrench, flashlight with batteries, road flares, and a fully inflated spare tire with proper tread depth. Practice changing a tire with your teen. Once you have done it with them a few times, have them do it on their own. While you can usually find someone who can help you with a flat tire, it is important that they are confident in their own abilities, in case they are in a deserted area alone.
Teaching teenagers to drive includes more than on the road skills. Make sure to arm them with the knowledge to keep their vehicle safe and on the road for years to come.