TEEN CAR CARE AND SAFETY TIPS BY LAUREN FIX, THE CAR COACH®
With teen driving crashes accounting for up to 44 percent of all teen deaths in the United States, it is important that parents and other responsible adults educate teens about safe driving and how to care for their cars. For many teens Driver’s Ed class is merely a precursor for getting the keys to their parent’s car on a Friday night, and safe, responsible driving is often an afterthought. Since it’s never too early to influence safe driving, Midas and nationally known car expert Lauren Fix offers 10 important car care/safety tips every teen should know before they get behind the wheel.
Car Care for Teens
1. Tire Pressure – parents should encourage teens to check tire pressure once a month. By doing so, teens not only save money on gas, but could also extend the life of the tires. In fact, if everyone checked their tire pressure against the recommendation listed on the sticker inside the car door – we could save over 2 billion gallons of gas per year!
2. Air Filters – essentially the lungs of the car; for as little as $20.00 – changing the engine air filter in a car can help improve fuel economy by 2 to 3 miles per gallon. Not really sure where the engine air filter is in your car? No problem – Midas shops will check for a restricted filter with every oil change or any other service visit.
3. Wiper Blades – most drivers don’t think to change their wiper blades until rain, sleet or snow are falling; however, since 80 percent of all driving decisions are based on visibility – do yourself and fellow drivers a favor and replace wiper blades every six months. Midas shops carry a range of blade sizes that are sure to fit just about any vehicle.
4. Oil Changes – a car’s engine is the heart of the car and it needs oil to operate. Many cars recommend that its engine oil be changed every 5,000 miles (or at other intervals as indicated in the owner’s manual). Check the maintenance section of your owner’s manual to determine when you should change your car’s oil and what type of oil the car uses, as some cars may even require “synthetic” oil. Check oil once a month; if the oil level is low, it looks foamy or smells funny – stop by a Midas shop and have it checked by a professional right away.
5. Anti-Freeze – also known as coolant, this fluid is what keeps your engine cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Parents – impress upon your teens that they should always have this checked at the same time they have the oil changed. If you can see that the coolant is at or below the “low” level in the reservoir, take it to Midas shop right away to determine if there is a leak or some other problem. Although your car may use a “long-life” coolant; always follow your owner’s manual for proper maintenance.
Road Safety Tips for Teens
1. Turn Signal Neglect – besides being courteous, using your turn signal to indicate a turn or lane change can deter dangerous driving situations. More accidents happen when people change lanes without using their turning signal, causing them to hit or collide with other drivers. Parents – get your teens in the habit of always using their turning signal and they can avoid accidents.
2. Tailgating – following too closely to another vehicle means that you probably wouldn’t have enough time and space to avoid slamming into the rear end of a vehicle should they have to stop suddenly, give the driver ahead the proper amount of space employing the “2 second” space rule to keep your distance.
3. Multi-tasking on the Road – everyone knows by now that texting while driving is the ultimate no-no and is in most cases against the law, but how about other activities (i.e. trying to make a call, opening a packet of ketchup for your fries, etc.)? Be a considerate driver and handle any activities that will take your attention from the road, even for a short time, on the side of the road. Simply pull over to a safe area, handle your tasks then pull back onto the road once you’re able to fully focus on driving.
4. Left Lane Hogging – most people don’t know that the law states that the left lane is for passing and for faster-moving traffic only. So, if you aren’t passing another vehicle or are driving below the speed limit, avoid hogging the left lane and drive in the middle or right traffic lanes. In some states the police will ticket for left lane hogging.
5. Merge Properly – to merge is defined as “to blend or make two or more things flow together” so match the speed of other cars, signal and merge your car when entering a freeway. The purpose of the merge lane is to give vehicles entering a highway an opportunity to speed up to match the flow of the traffic and safely merge. If you stop or slowly crawl into traffic, you are asking to be rear-ended and you not only create a dangerous situation for yourself, but you force other drivers behind you to attempt the same speed from a standing start.