Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jan 19, 2021

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When teenagers (ages 16 – 20) have their own cars, the danger of them crashing it are 2 and 1/2 times more likely than the teens who used the “family car.” So those priviledged few teens who are responsible for their own car should also consider themselves warned — things can go wrong and you can avoid many dangers by learning good maintenace habits.

Yes, teens have much to learn about keeping safely out of a crash, but a recent survey shows that young drivers know even less about car maintenance. According to a recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of teens are rated by their parents as “somewhat or completely clueless” when it comes to how to take care of their car.

This spurred the folks at AutoMD.com to put together six tips for teens (and parents) to keep their cars running well with the ultimate goal for staying safe on the road.

  1. Know your car’s maintenance intervals and keep up with service.
    Look at your owner’s manual and find the car’s required maintenance schedule. This tells you when to have the fluids, tires, brakes, and oil and filter changes.
  2. Take care of your tires — make sure they can get you to school, work, etc.
    Keep your tires properly inflated and watch for tire wear. Consult your owner’s manual or tire sticker on the door jamb for manufacturer-recommended tire pressure settings. Also, look at your tires for wear and tear every time you stop for gas.
  3. Don’t ignore dashboard warning lights
    Dashboard warning lights serve as notification that something may be wrong with your car. The warnings include Check Engine, Oil, Temperature, Brake, Tire sensors and more, depending on the car’s technology. Read the owner’s manual and pay close attention to the lights, what they mean, and how you should respond to them.
  4. Don’t let your car run too low, or out of gas
    Like food, your car needs fuel to survive. Today’s cars are not made to run all the way to the last drop, as many have fuel-injected engines that use gas to cool and lubricate their components. A good rule of thumb is to keep the fuel level above a quarter tank to keep your car running well, and to avoid being stranded on the side of the road.
  5. Steer clear — take care of your windshield
    The windshield is like the eye of your car. Therefore, it is critical to keep it clean and clear for safe driving. Wiper blades that have cracks or that skip, streak, or leave smears should be replaced. You should also check spray nozzles for proper aim. If the nozzles are clogged, clean them with a needle.
  6. Teen life moves fast, but your car doesn’t have to.
    Slow down and avoid speeding. It may seem fun to drive fast, or you may be running late to school, but the best way to keep your car well maintained and safe on the road is to avoid speeding. Speeding is not only dangerous, but it’s bad for your car too. Driving slower puts less demand on your car’s engine and transmission, and also helps to reduce the amount of gas you use in the process. Avoid all driving habits that put stress and strain on your vehicle.

Teen training is only the beginning of a lifetime of good safety habits. To get further information, AutoMD.com has made a Teen Drive Car Maintenance and Repair Guide available on its site where your teen can take a maintenance and repair quiz and sign a certificate of commitment with their parent or guardian.

Preparing the teenage driver to be aware of his or her car’s condition can prevent many a mishap from ever happening at all. And if you have teenage kids, you have enough to worry about without having to add a flat tire, broken down vehicle, or a car stranded on the road to the list.