Car care and maintenance: six tips for teens

It’s one of the most positive trends in auto safety: Teen drivers are making better decisions than a generation ago, by buckling up more and riding less with friends who have been drinking, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Yet, many teens know little or nothing about the basics of auto repair, an survey finds. Since good decisions on auto repair, including preventative car maintenance, are also important for safety, here’s a list of easy do-it-yourself auto repair and care tips for teens – and their parents: 

Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor/File
Vehicle refinishing and repair majors, Ross Blazer, left, and Eric Van Rooy work on a Toyota Prius as part of their training in hybrid car repair on the campus of Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wis., in 2011. Teens who learn how to do basic car maintenance can save money and boost safety.

1. Know your car’s maintenance intervals and keep up with service

Each vehicle has a maintenance schedule, outlined in the owner’s manual.  Be sure you read and understand the schedule.  Items that require regular maintenance include the car’s fluids, tires, brakes, and filters. Oil and air filter changes are particularly important to keep the engine running efficiently and make great projects for the beginning do-it-yourselfer. You can find guides on how to change your oil online. Get an experienced adult to help the first few times.

Did you know? These days experts say that you only need to change your oil every 5,000 miles (not every 3,000 miles like when your parents were younger)? A good rule of thumb is: If the vehicle is a 2003 model or newer, it’s fine to change the oil every 5,000 miles. 

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