5 steps to raise a responsible teen driver

This is a guest post written by Cindy Calderon, founder, and owner of Ladies Kar Care.

So, mom, you’re teen is on the verge of driving. Do you want to raise a confident and responsible teen driver? What if I told you by the end of this article, you would feel educated and inspired to teach basic car maintenance and car safety to your new teen driver? It’s true!

Raising teens doesn’t come with a manual. But you’re in luck because I’ve created a step-by-step guide with moms in mind, on raising confident, responsible teen drivers.


Why Moms Fear Handing Over the Keys to New Teens Drivers


For every parent, there’s a unique moment when you realize your babies aren’t little anymore. In a short time, they are becoming a teenager.

And guess what comes next? Yup, they’re going to want a driver’s license. For moms, the idea of helping your teen learn to drive is scary and overwhelming because it’s dangerous out there!

Let’s just admit it, mom… parenting is hard, and raising young adults is harder. As parents, we realize they are getting independent, and driving is one of the initial steps of letting go.


Most Moms Don’t Teach Car Maintenance


A lot of moms, including myself, missed the opportunity as a young adult to learn about basic car maintenance. As an inexperienced teen with a driver’s license, I was clueless about car care and how things worked under the hood.

Many circumstances in life could make learning car maintenance difficult. Maybe your dad only serviced the family car at the local garage. Was your mom a single parent struggling to make ends meet? Or lacked the experience or time to teach you.

I get it, mom. My story is similar and might sound like yours.

mom can learn simple car maintenance

Only Boys Should Work on Cars


I grew up the oldest of three, two girls and one boy with wonderful, loving parents who I am so thankful for. But as a young girl, I understood only boys learned how to maintain vehicles and girls kept a home and learned to care for a family. This isn’t about right or wrong. It’s just how life was.

It’s easy to continue family patterns on subjects you know nothing about, and that includes car maintenance.

I’ve come a long way from that naïve young girl and my goal is to equip moms like yourself. I want you to be confident and knowledgeable about teaching basic car maintenance tips to your teen driver.


Today’s Hurdles for Moms and Car Maintenance


Even today, there are many hurdles and stereotypes to learning and teaching car care. With patience and determination mom, you can achieve anything you set your mind to and that includes car maintenance. You are going to change this next generation by raising confident, responsible teen drivers and providing them with this precious life experience.


The Most Forgotten Step for Responsible Teen Drivers 


First, training your eager teen on how to drive is the easiest part. You have two choices, either pay an instructor or teach them yourself. If your teen responds well to instruction under stress, they may have no issues with you as the instructor. Most driving schools offer online courses and cost around $400 in most states.

Of course, getting their first vehicle is a dream for teenagers, but most parents miss one priority step after their teen gets their license.

That is teaching them basic auto maintenance. This is so necessary because not only will it help your teen assume responsibility for their car, but these simple tips also keep them safer on the road.


5-Important Car Maintenance Tips for Every Responsible Teen Driver


If your family is transitioning into the phase of teenage driving, take a deep breath. You can do this. I’m here to share tips, simple steps and answer all your car maintenance questions. Below are five important steps I recommend teaching your teen before handing the keys over.


Step 1. Have Your Teen Driver Read the Owner’s Manual


Each car contains an important booklet called the owner’s manual. This manual includes valuable information like maintenance tips and troubleshooting advice specific to each car. When your teen understands what their car requires, it allows them to be a better driver and car owner. Here are a few specific things your teen should regard while reading the manual.

Look for basic car information such as what type of oil is best, engine size, tire information, and the vehicle identification number or VIN. The VIN can provide a more customized maintenance schedule based on your specific vehicle if needed.

preventative maintenance schedule helps their car stay healthy and last longer. Just following the recommendations in the owner’s manual will save money on unnecessary maintenance.


Step 2: How to Build an Essential Car Care Toolbox with Your Teen Driver


So, now your teen has read about essential keys in maintaining their vehicle. Now it’s important to equip them with the right tools. A basic car maintenance toolkit should be in the vehicle in case of a car emergency.

Below is a handy car care tool list and why each piece is important. I’ll show you the correct way to use each tool later, to perform the scheduled maintenance.

Pencil Tire Gauge: Checking the tire pressure about once a month will enhance your teens’ safety and the fuel efficiency of their car. Each tire requires a specific number of pounds per square inch or PSI. The easiest place to locate the PSI is the placard inside the driver’s door or the owner’s manual.

A Penny: When should you replace your worn-out tires? You can use a tire gauge or schedule an appointment for a professional evaluation.

One of the easiest methods is a simple penny test. Yup, a simple penny can help determine if it’s time to purchase new treads.

Jumper Cables are always handy in case your teen turns the key and their car doesn’t start. Chances are that the battery is dead and needs to be jumped.

Spare tire: A good spare tire should be in every vehicle on the road. Keep the spare tire in the vehicle’s trunk or the bed, along with a torque wrench and a jack stand to replace a damaged tire. The spare tire is a critical item a car owner rarely thinks about until it’s needed. Check the spare tire often to ensure it’s inflated and not dry rotted. No one wants to be stranded with a flat tire and a flat spare.

Flashlight: A flashlight is handy for locating important items inside or outside of the car.

Bottle of Coolant: During extreme temperatures, coolant keeps water from freezing and boiling.

Washer Fluid: Because visibility is critical while driving, an extra bottle of washer fluid is ideal to keep in your trunk so you can keep your windshield always clean.


Step 3. How to Use the Tools in the Car Care Toolkit


Your teen now understands basic information about their car and has created a maintenance toolkit in case of an emergency. The next step is learning the correct way to use each tool. We’ll cover the tools for car maintenance along with the proper steps to take in case of a breakdown. These important steps allow you and your teen to build confidence. The skills you are learning and teaching will save time and might save lives.


How to Use A Tire Gauge


Start by checking the tire pressure and tire tread wear. This is one of the easiest tasks your new teen driver should learn. A quick visual glance at each tire is helpful or use a tire gauge to test pressure. First, you’ll need to remove the caps from the tire valve stems. You’ll want to consult your vehicle’s manual or driver’s door sticker for the optimal PSI for your vehicle and tires. Press the tire pressure gauge onto the tire’s valve stem to take a reading of the current tire pressure.


How to Use a Penny to Test for Tire Wear


Next, you’ll need a penny for this simple tire wear test. Insert the penny with Lincoln’s head upside-down between any two treads of the tire. If you can see his entire head, it means the treads are worn 2⁄32 inches or less and it’s time to replace your tires. Check various points around the circumference of the tire and between different ribs to look for uneven tire wear.


How to Use Jumper Cables on a Dead Car Battery


1. Make sure both cars are off.

2. Connect one end of the red (positive) jumper cable to the positive terminal on the stalled battery.

3. Then the other red (positive) cable connects to the positive terminal of the good battery.

4. Connect one end of the black (negative) jumper cable to the negative terminal of the good battery.

5. The other black (negative) jumper cable connects to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the disabled car’s hood.

6. Start the car you are using for jumping and let it run 2 to 3 minutes before starting the dead car.

7. Remove cables in reverse order.

8. Keep the jumped car running for at least 30 minutes to give the battery sufficient time to recharge.


A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Change A Tire


responsible teen driver

1. Find a safe place to pull off the road.

2. Use your hazard lights and parking brake.

3. Check for materials-flashlight, tire gauge, spare tire, torch wrench, jack stand, and your car’s owner’s manual.

4. Loosen the lug nuts.

5. Lift your vehicle off the ground.

6. Remove the lug nuts and the damaged tire.

7. Place the spare tire on the car.

8. Replace the lug nuts.

9. Begin lowering your vehicle and begin tightening.

10. Finish lowering your vehicle.



Step 4. Learning Car Safety is Part of Being a Responsible Teen Driver 


Driving is a privilege and one that comes with a lot of responsibility. Your teen will face many distractions behind the wheel. As parents, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be a safe, responsible, and defensive driver. It’s best to set up some family guidelines and safety rules and encourage them to follow them.


  • Always wear the seat belt.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel. That means no eating, adjusting radio stations or heat/AC, etc. while the car is moving.
  • Obey all traffic signs, stop lights & warning signs.
  • Always drive the speed limit.
  • Do not use a cell phone while driving. This includes audio texting.



Step 5. The Importance of Keeping A Clean Car


The last step we are going to cover is the basic maintenance task of keeping their car clean from the inside out. A simple weekly “pick up” and “wipe down”, ensures that switches and knobs work, vents are free of debris, and storage compartments lock for safety. It’s also important to wash the outside of your car to remove dirt and chemicals from the roads. A simple wash helps monitor the overall condition and prevent paint damage to the body.


Bonus Tip:

I have one extra tip to share with you that is going to help keep your responsible teen driver organized with his/her car maintenance. I think you’re going to love it!

“My Car Maintenance Planner” is your Fast & Furious guide to tracking basic vehicle maintenance so that you can easily stay on top of oil changes, tire rotation, and even must-have emergency tools. It’s the perfect fit for any glove box. This car maintenance planner keeps you organized and inspired with quotes and car care tips along the way.


I hope as a mom you feel encouraged in your car maintenance skills. You are fearfully and wonderfully created for a purpose, and my goal is for you to feel confident about whatever you choose to embrace.

You are an amazing mom. I know because you have sought to learn how to teach your teen topics you felt unsure about. Feel confident that you are sharing life skills that building confident and responsible teens behind the wheel.


Meet Cindy Calderon owner of Ladies Kar Care

cindy calderon ladies kar car

The moment I walked into my husband’s repair shop, I knew my purpose. God wanted me to serve women. I’m a wife, mom of four, and founder of Ladies’ KAR Care.

My passion is to teach and empower other women to become more knowledgeable about cars.

My goal is to break those stereotypes and help women understand they don’t have to be an expert in order to take control over the care and repairs of their cars.


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I want to hear from you. Leave me a comment and tell me what is the scariest or most difficult part of car maintenance.