Car maintenance is an important life skill, even for kids. Teach your children to care for a vehicle in this week’s installment of Screen-free Summer Life Skills Bingo.
My dad loved to tinker, and I loved to watch him. It’s how I learned to paint walls, install shelves and lighting fixtures, and even how to take care of a car. Proper maintenance of a vehicle is a super important life skill, one I’m grateful my father taught me as a child. That’s why I’m thrilled to welcome Caitlyn from Mrs. Andy, Anchored by Faith, as she and her husband Jacob give the low down on car maintenance for kids.
Right before we got married (five days before, to be precise) my husband Jacob and I purchased the used 2008 Toyota Rav4 that we call “Blue”. It’s our first car together, as well as the first car that either of us has actually owned, so it is a pretty important vehicle to us!
Somehow, despite the Navy stealing him away for long periods of time on a regular basis, Jacob has managed to stay on top of caring for our car. I have only two jobs when it comes to the car; make sure it always has gas in the tank and take it in for oil changes if needed while he is out at sea.
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So why on earth am I writing this post? Well, nobody knows everything there is to know about everything (otherwise there would be no need to hire people, go to school, or even read this Screen-free Summer series). Teaching life skills is a team effort. Your team could include blogger friends from the interwebs, teachers or coaches in your community, extended family members (such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, or super-awesome brother-in-laws), or your spouse.
Jacob and I set off to prove the whole “it takes a village” thing and borrowed my younger siblings (ages 17, 14, 12, 10, and 8) for a lesson in caring for your car! My amazing husband taught my siblings about some basic car maintenance, such as taking care of the tires, checking the lights and fluid levels, and changing the windshield wipers. I just might have learned a few things, too!
Car Maintenance for Kids: Screen-free Summer Life Skills Bingo
Checking the tire tread
We enlisted the help of my 8-year-old brother for this task. He has a shorter attention span than my other siblings, so quick hands-on activities are best for him. He loved checking all four tires with a dime! The rule of thumb is the tread should at least reach Roosevelt’s nose when positioning the dime so he is facing the center of the tire. The go-to coin rule used to be the top of Lincoln’s head on the penny, but recent studies have shown more tread than that is safer… and we all want our kids to be safe, of course!
Checking the lights
My 10-year-old sister has a bit more focus than her younger brother! For that reason, she was trusted to help Jacob check the lights on the car. He explained what each light was supposed to do, and then flashed the lights and turned on the signals while she watched from outside the car. She was super awesome at signaling to him that each light was working properly! This job is simple to do but does require some basic comprehension of what each light should look like.
Checking the oil and fluid levels
There are perks to being older! My 12-year-old brother got to channel his inner grease monkey as Jacob showed him how to check the oil and other engine fluids. They identified where each of them was located and where the fluid line was. My brother’s favorite part was checking the oil! He had fun pulling out the dipstick, wiping it down, putting it back in, pulling it out again, and checking the level and color. My brother is a quick learner, and it didn’t take him long to have everything memorized. I’ll have to pull out the owner’s manual to do this task myself, though, because I was paying more attention to them bonding than I was to what Jacob was saying!
Changing the windshield wipers
Apparently, having good quality windshield wipers is helpful for being able to see out your window (who knew!). My 14-year-old sister (who is almost 15 and about a year away from getting behind the wheel!) was very excited to sit in the driver’s seat and learn a little bit about the importance of good wipers. Our windshield wipers were getting kind of worn out from baking in the California sun and wiping off tons of bug guts after multiple drives up and down Interstate 5. After demonstrating why they needed to be replaced, Jacob walked her through the process of putting on new ones. New wipers come with installation instructions in the package, and even first timers can follow along. Obviously, my sister had a horrible time…
Changing a tire
My 17-year-old sister has been driving for a little over a year now and luckily has never had a flat tire. She has plenty of people who would come to her rescue if she did, but Jacob and I wanted to make sure she knew how to change a tire in case she ever got stuck on the side of the road by herself. Every driver should know how to change a tire and it is very easy to find instructions online. The more drivers practice, the easier it is to do in an emergency situation. Jacob taught her where to find the tools and spare tire, and then made her learn by doing. One thing to remember (and make sure your young drivers remember!) is that you tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern.
With each of my siblings, Jacob explained some very important safety tips for working around cars. It’s never too early to start introducing rules that keep your children safe! Children of all ages need to understand the dangers of being near and in the street while caring for your car. You can also teach them to be aware of their surroundings and be wary of the car moving unexpectedly. When working under the hood, coach children on how to watch out for wires and hot oil and liquids. And for young drivers or kids getting ready to become young drivers, reinforce how proper car maintenance will keep them safer on the road. However, don’t forget that teaching and learning about caring for your car can be fun. Jacob’s favorite rule is “Always enjoy the process!”
Caitlyn Anderson is a blogger, fur-mama, Navy wife, and Catholic: in reverse order. She has been happily married to her husband Jacob for two years. They currently live in Southern California with their fur-child Remington. Caitlyn started the Mrs. Andy, Anchored By Faith blog as a way to share how Catholicism helps her navigate life as a military spouse. She also blogs about toxin-free living, family, and incorporating faith into everyday life. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram!
Enjoy this post? Check out the rest of the Screen-free Summer Life Skills Bingo Series and play along!