Taking care of your first car is a huge responsibility, but it’s important for your safety to do so. You’ll likely own several cars in your lifetime, but your first car establishes good and bad habits that will stick with you through every car. That’s why it’s critical that you focus on taking care of your first car now, for the sake of your safety and the safety of future cars!
1. Drive Alone
You want to avoid an accident, don’t you? Being a safe driver is a key factor in taking care of your first car. Accidents are more likely to occur when there’s more than one teen in the car. It doesn’t matter how skillful a driver you think you are, or how focused you try to be, friends equal distractions. And distracted driving can have horrible consequences, from car damage to severe personal injury. That’s why it’s important to wait at least six months to a year before you start driving with anyone other than your parents.
2. Get the Oil Changed Regularly
I’m guilty of one major car sin; I’ve gone months on end without an oil change! Denying your car of gas is like denying a person of water, but denying them of an oil change is similar to denying a person of food. Cars can last a little bit longer without an oil change, but they won’t be comfortable, and they can even break down if you go too long between oil changes. Oil changes aren’t too pricey, so save about $10.00 a month and after a few months, get your oil changed! You and your car will be grateful for it!
3. Tell Your Parents when Anything Goes Wrong
If your brakes squeak, your tires skid, or your engine growls in an odd way, tell your parents immediately! Odds are they’ll know what to do better than you do, then you won’t spend too much time driving a death-mobile. Likewise, if your car ever breaks down or you get into an accident, call your parents. They won’t be nearly as mad as they will be concerned; and they’ll be by your side in a flash too!
4. Keep It Organized
Having a messy car doesn’t mean it will break down, but it still isn’t a good habit. You should clean out your car regularly, and I don’t mean throw everything in the trunk! Keep your car organized so that when you eventually start driving with friends, you don’t have to frantically toss everything in the back seat.
5. Clean It Yourself
It’s tempting to take your car to a carwash every time it gets dirty, but that’s a bad habit to start! Someday, you’ll be a poor college student, or college graduate swimming in student loans. You won’t want to waste money each month getting your car professionally cleaned. So clean your first car by yourself, and get used to it so that a professional carwash becomes a luxury.
6. Never Let Your Gas Tank Drop below 1/4 Full
This is a rule my mom taught me and all of my sisters when we bought our first cars. But guess what... I broke it, more than once! But now I know from experience how foolish it is to let your gasoline tank drop below 1/4 full. Once the gas dips below the quarter mark, it begins running out rapidly and you may panic. If there’s no gas station near you, you’re out of luck! So as a general rule, never let your gas tank drop below 1/4 full, to save yourself unnecessary worry.
7. Maintain Your Tires
Tires are probably the most important structure on the outside your car. Inside, your engine keeps the car running, and outside the wheels keep it moving. When your tires become “bald”, they lose friction, which is extremely dangerous. If your tires are bald, you’ll usually notice it when driving in the rain. If your tires skid on wet streets, you should look at replacing them as soon as possible. Moreover, keep an eye on tire pressure when maintaining your tires. Proper tire pressure means a longer life for your tires and better fuel efficiency.
8. Don't Waste the Battery
I've had my car refuse to start after the battery died, and been stranded in the school parking lot because of it! It isn't a fun experience to have your car fail you, especially due to something preventable like a dead battery. All batteries die eventually, but you make battery failure more probable by practicing bad habits like listening to the radio with the engine off, or leaving your headlights all night long. To ensure a long battery life, don't waste your battery!
9. Learn Basic Car Maintenance
Your first car is one big learning experience, but you can't just learn how to drive and hope for the best! You need to learn how to change a tire, check your oil, and fill your gas tank. Because, while for now you have friends and family to help you with basic car maintenance, one day you'll be on your own and need these skills for your safety and your car's.
You forge a special bond with your first car, so as long as you have it you should give it the special care it deserves! What do you do to take care of your car? Which of these tips have you been neglecting?