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Car maintenance 101: Essential tips for young drivers

Why educating new drivers on the importance of proper vehicle maintenance is important
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There are a lot of things on the mind of a young driver who has just been handed a set of keys, whether it’s to use the family car for the first time or for their own first vehicle. 

Predictably, how to properly maintain a car is usually way down their list of immediate concerns. 

Sometimes drivers put blind faith in the infallibility of the technology they use, never truly comprehending that repairs are sometimes necessary. That’s especially true for young car drivers, many of whom climb behind the wheel without having an understanding about what to do should the engine light come on or they wind up needing to change a flat tire. 

It’s important to educate young drivers and teach them the warning signs to avoid mechanical failure and roadside issues. 

“First of all, they need to understand the importance of regular maintenance,” said Jaime Hamilton, owner of College Auto Tech in Guelph. “That includes things like knowing when your oil change is due and having a professional technician perform an inspection with your oil change. That way the technician can point out things that need to be done rather than reacting after things happen.”

While young drivers do learn rules of the road in the process of acquiring their driver’s licence, they get very little instruction on the basic mechanics involved in-vehicle operation. Hamilton says there are many simple things that young drivers should learn about their vehicles so they know how to avoid issues that come up while driving. 

“Keeping an eye on your tire pressure is a very important tip,” said Hamilton. “Yes, many vehicles come equipped with tire pressure sensors and if the tire pressure light comes on, you can check the tire, but not all of them do. Rotating your tires at least once a year is also important. Another thing to look for is the sight of any drips or leaks showing up on the driveway. That’s another sign that they should book an appointment.” 

Other important lessons for young drivers include knowing when to have windshield wipers replaced, how to check the engine oil, brake and power steering fluids, and knowing where and when to add windshield washer fluid. Doing a walk around the vehicle to ensure all signals and headlights are operational can also help young drivers stay safe when driving.   

Ultimately, every young driver should also heed the warnings being issued by the cars they’re driving according to Hamilton. 

“They need to understand how important it is not to ignore the dashboard lights, especially the check engine light,” she said. “If it’s flashing, you shouldn’t be driving it. They need to know to pull over and call somebody.” 

Knowing who to call is also important, and Hamilton suggests parents of young drivers should leave information in the glove box that lists who to call for roadside assistance should the need arise.  Finally, young drivers should also understand the value in establishing a relationship with a local garage like College Auto Tech, or any of the 12 garages that form the Guelph Garage Owners Association.

“Having a good rapport with a local auto shop is ideal. If you’re a loyal customer and have questions or concerns, that shop is more likely to help you out when you’re in a bind. Beyond that, visiting a garage for things like preventative spring maintenance helps young drivers avoid costly repairs later.” 

For more information or to book an appointment visit any of the 11 Garages that make up the GGOA. Click here to meet our group.