The things parents need to worry about seem never ending. So this post is not to give you something else to worry about, but to offer suggestions on how to get kids involved in caring for your vehicle.
What follows are some of the best practices in car care that we’ve gathered over the years, first as parents, and second as vehicle maintenance professionals.
Teach the Value of Keeping an Investment Clean Suggesting that a parent keep their car clean reminds us of a line from Jerry Seinfeld, “A 2-year-old is like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.” Except, once you get your child in the car, multiply that kid-blender-power by about 20. Unfortunately, this side effect of parenting doesn’t change the fact that well-maintained cars have higher resale values.
When you teach your kids about the value of taking care of their belongings, also teach them the basics of cleaning a vehicle.
Explain how dirt can build up and get ground-in to cause irreversible damage that can’t just be washed or vacuumed away.
Teach kids the importance of removing bird droppings quickly since they are very acidic and will damage your paint job.
Show them the right type of soap to use on the exterior—one designed for automotive use, not dish soap.
When you explain why cleaning is important along with how, you will hopefully do two things. One, it will help get your car clean(er). Two, it will teach kids the long-term importance of taking care of investments.
Explain How to Keep Good Records and Check for Recalls A good record of vehicle maintenance is proof that you took care of your car or truck. These records can bring you a higher resale value. They can also be helpful to a professional working on your car. Show kids how you keep track of maintenance performed whether it involves keeping receipts in a designated envelope or taking pictures of each receipt with your phone.
Recalls are another relatively easy way to get kids involved with car care. Explain how a tiny recall can lead to a much bigger problem down the road. Show them the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website where you can enter your vehicle’s identification number (VIN) and instantly pull up any recall from within the past 15 years that pertains to your car.
Get Kids Involved with Maintenance Items Along the same lines of showing kids how to keep their belongings clean is to teach them how to perform simple maintenance. If you’re not a vehicle DIY-type person, you can still teach them how to check if items need replaced.
Explain the importance of seeing clearly on the road. Demonstrate how to check for headlight and brake lights that need replaced.
Describe the signs of damage or uneven wear to tires—bubbles or bumps in your sidewall and uneven wear on your treads.
Teach them how important it is to get regular oil changes. Unhealthy, i.e., dirty, oil does not protect the engine. It causes engine parts to begin to rub together, eventually wearing out. We’ve heard people use the analogy of oil being as important to a car as blood is to a person.
Point out any noises when you brake, a pulling to one side, vibration, sharp grabbing, unusual smells, or a loose or hard feeling when pressing on the brakes. Tell kids how to bring in a vehicle for a brake inspection is you notice any of these signs.
Whether you choose to teach your kids how to maintain your own vehicle or how to take advantage of an automotive professional’s services, take the time to invest in teaching kids the importance of vehicle maintenance!