My first car was a 1976 Honda Accord wagon. It was a little four-cylinder that my parents bought me for $500. It had plenty of miles on it but still had plenty more to give as long as I took care of it. It was the perfect first car to work on as there wasn’t much in terms of electronics and the engine had a carburetor, manual steering and roll down windows. All the basics.
I’m no gear head but at 16 I replaced the front struts, installed an audiovox tape deck and speakers and regular changed the oil.
It was all a learning experience that to this day has made me feel more capable around vehicles. But I’ve found modern vehicles much more difficult to work on. Changing the oil can even be a chore depending on what type of car you have and if your engine light goes on it seems that the only way to track down issues is to take it to a mechanic so they can plug it in their machine.
Despite these hurdles there is still regular maintenance you can do on your car that is a great way to introduce your kids to understanding how a car operates and what it needs to keep running smoothly.
1. Changing the oil
With proper supervision, kids can help change the oil. First you should know how to properly change the oil in your car and be aware of hazards such as heat, spills and dealing with toxic oil. Teaching a child to help you change the oil in your car is a great way to teach them how an engine works and what the oil is for. Kids can pour the oil into the engine and help you recycle and dispose of used oil.
2. Checking the air filter
Air filters should be checked regularly and your kids can help you remove the air filter element and check to see how dirty it is. Often times if you can see light through the air filter its OK but if not and you can visually see dirt/dust you should replace it.
3. Checking tire air pressure
This is one of the most fun and easiest tasks. You just need an air pressure gauge. You can do this once a month and by keeping your tires properly inflated you’ll save a bunch of gas.
4. Washing the car
If you’ve got the space, washing your car in your driveway is a fun afternoon but you can also take your kids with you to the self wash places and they’ll love to spray and use the brush.
5. Keeping records
Letting your kids help you keep maintenance records keeps them involved and they can write down the numbers and figure out when you are due for the next oil change or other maintenance.