How to Take Care of Your Very First Car
Getting your very own car is every teenager’s dream. Few things rival the feeling of freedom that having your own car offers, even if it’s an older, more beat up car. It’s still a car, and it’s still yours. Of course, that freedom only lasts if you can keep it running. That means you have to take good care of it. If you’ve never really done anything with cars before, however, you may be at a bit of a loss as to how to do that.
Get Your Car Serviced
The good news is that a lot of what needs to be done to take care of your car can be done by other people who already know exactly what they’re doing. Such is the case if you were to take your car in to get serviced. The components a car is made from need to be inspected regularly and swapped out for new ones on a set schedule. You can usually find that in the owner’s manual. A basic service includes things like changing the oil and filter, servicing the tires, inspecting and cleaning the battery, checking your fluid levels and topping them off if needed, replacing burnt out lights, and inspecting your windshield wipers, filters, belts, hoses, and breaks. It may also include an emissions check. A major service includes all of that and more.
Keep It Clean
Your parents probably get after you periodically (or maybe more frequently) about keeping your room clean. Once you have your own car, your room is no longer the only area that you need to keep clean. Keeping your car clean not only helps it stay looking nice, but it also helps keep it in good condition. The paint on your car is a protective layer that helps prevent rusting. That paint can be damaged by a lot of different things, so you’ll want to stay on top of keeping it clean. The interior and area under the hood should also be kept clean. Dust, dirt, and general grunge can damage your car over time. It’s a lot better to prevent that and just keep things clean in the first place. Giving your car a good washing every week or two should be enough to do the trick.
Be a Careful Driver
Cars aren’t meant to sit there, they’re meant to be driven. Driving a car inevitably results in some level of wear and tear, however, and how much will be highly dependent on how you drive. If you’re a careful driver, you’re more likely to drive in a way that will be more gentle on the car. Don’t go too far in being careful, however. There’s a difference between being a defensive driver that is careful with their car and a fearful driver. The latter can actually be a lot more dangerous.
Protect It from the Elements
Unless you keep your car in a garage the whole time, it’s going to be exposed to the elements. Sun, rain, and wind are practically guaranteed no matter where you live, with hail, snow, and intense heat or cold being added on top of that, depending on where you live. All of that can take a toll on your car, so it’s important to take steps to protect it. Fortunately, there are products out there that can help. Clear bra protects your car from damage from sap, debris, rocks and other elements. Window tinting helps block the sun, reducing the damage it can do to your interior. Car covers can help shelter your vehicle if you won’t be using it for a while.
Take Care of Your Battery
Car batteries aren’t exactly cheap, and your car needs it in order to function. If you have a dead battery, your car is essentially useless. You can extend its life by avoiding listening to music and remembering to turn the lights off while the car isn’t running. Dead batteries are generally pretty avoidable problems, and they aren’t fun when you’re faced with them. Fortunately, jumping your car is also pretty simple as long as you have another vehicle, a set of cables, and know how to do it.
Don’t Let Your Gas Gauge Get Too Low
Like a dead battery, running out of gas is another generally preventable problem. No one wants to be stranded and out of gas, but that’s exactly what happens if you don’t pay attention to the gas gauge or let it get too low. As a rule of thumb, don’t let the gauge go below ¼ of a tank. You’ll thank yourself for it when you always have plenty of time (and gas) to get to the next station to fill up.
Learn Basic Car Maintenance
Taking your car to get serviced on schedule is a good idea, but there are plenty of simple car maintenance tasks you can learn to do on your own. Paying for an oil change isn’t cheap, especially if you need to use higher end oils. You can avoid the high costs by buying the oil and changing it yourself. Similarly, swapping out spark plugs, windshield wiper blades, and burnt out lightbulbs are also pretty simple tasks that you can do yourself and save money on. Not sure how to do it? There are a ton of car maintenance YouTube videos out there that you can use as a resource.
Tell Your Parents If Something Is Wrong
Even though it’s your car, and even if you have a pretty good handle on basic car maintenance, it’s still important to tell your parents if something is wrong. Your parents have a lot more experience behind the wheel than you do. They’ll have a better idea of how serious a problem might be and can give you some solid advice on what to do about it. Remember, your parents love you and want you to be happy and healthy. They want to help you when they can. They won’t be able to if you don’t let them know that something is wrong.
Getting your first car is an exciting time for anyone, but especially for teens. It’s only going to really make a difference in your life if you’re able to keep it running properly though. Getting in the habit of taking good care of your cars, starting with your very first, is a habit that will serve you well for the rest of your life, saving you money on expensive repairs and extending the life of your vehicles.
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