So your teenager is ready to hit to road in her own ride. Before you plunk down that wad of cash you’ve been saving for this day since she was a toddler bouncing on your knee to a catchy little ditty about a pony ride, make sure she’s got a full understanding of all the aspects of auto ownership – behind the wheel, under the hood and in her wallet. E3 Spark Plugs offers a few must-know tips for teens.
Know how to drive: You might think this would be obvious. But we’re not talking about the Driver’s Ed basics. There’s a limited amount of real-world experience that can be gained on the high school campus’ fenced-in driving practice range. She may master dodging those orange cones like a pro. But an oncoming truck with an impaired driver behind its wheel or a car with a driver more focused on the lines of a text message than the yellow lines on the roadway is a whole different story. Take full advantage of the time she’s driving with a learner’s permit to help her gain the defensive driving skills that could save her life one day. And make sure she knows that fast or aggressive driving can deplete the gas tank quicker and cause wear-and-tear repairs that will have to come out of her shopping money.
Know how to maintain: Teach your teen the basics of auto maintenance. If she’s mechanically inclined, teach her a few DIYs, like changing the oil, checking the battery and replacing the spark plugs. If she’d rather have a root canal than muss up her manicure, make sure she keeps that auto owner’s manual in the glove compartment and checks it regularly to make sure she’s getting all the recommended maintenance. Again – the more money she has to spend on fixing her car’s latest mechanical issue, the less she has to spend on the latest fashions.
Know how to budget: Speaking of spending money, even the best-maintained vehicle will need repairs from time to time. Encourage your teen to save a certain amount or percentage of the paycheck from her after-school job and earmark it for future repairs. Owning or operating a car also will help her learn to budget for gas, insurance payments and routine maintenance. Before handing her the keys, list all the related cost estimates and make sure she understands the financial commitment and has a plan in place to cover her costs.
Pack a care package: Purchase a plastic box that fits nicely in the trunk and fill it with items she may need in a roadside emergency, such as jumper cables, a flashlight and extra set of flashlight batteries, a battery-operated tire pump, blankets and a small shovel or ice scraper if you live in an area that snows. Check the tire pump once a month to make sure it’s fully charged. Some parents we know include a prepaid debit card for emergency towing or repair if it’s not included on the insurance policy or for a hotel room and food if a breakdown happens during an out-of-town trip.