10 Things New Drivers Must Know About Car Maintenance

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10 Things New Drivers Must Know About Car Maintenance
By: Luke Shaff ~ 8/10/2023


As the parent of a new driver, one of your top concerns is making sure your teen's vehicle is properly maintained. Vehicle maintenance not only ensures safety but also helps avoid costly repairs down the road. Here are 10 key things new drivers should understand about maintaining their vehicle:

1. Check fluid levels regularly. Fluids like oil, coolant, brake, and power steering fluid should be checked at least once a month or according to the owner's manual. Low fluid levels can damage components and reduce safety.

2. Change the oil as recommended. Fresh oil is essential for lubricating and cooling the engine. Most vehicles need an oil change every 3,000 to 7,500 miles. Check your owner's manual for the recommendation.

3. Inspect and rotate tires regularly. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 10,000 miles to ensure even tread wear. They should also be inspected for proper inflation and tread wear. Under-inflated or worn out tires reduce safety and handling.

4. Replace air filters as needed. Clogged air filters reduce engine performance and fuel economy. Most need replacement every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Cabin air filters should also be changed periodically.

5. Keep the fuel tank at least half full. This prevents condensation buildup and provides a fuel buffer in emergencies. It also keeps the fuel pump fully submerged, which prevents overheating and damage.

6. Vacuum, wipe down, and clean the interior. A messy, dirty interior reduces safety and comfort. Set a schedule to thoroughly vacuum seats and carpets, wipe down vinyl and plastics, and clean windows inside and out.

7. Wash and wax the exterior. Regular washing and waxing prevents rust and oxidation while maintaining the vehicle's appearance. Most vehicles should be washed at least once a month and waxed a few times a year.

8. Check and replace windshield wipers. Windshield wipers should be checked at least once a month and replaced once a year or if they start streaking, chattering or not cleaning effectively.

9. Get routine inspections and service. New vehicles typically need services at around 5,000 miles, 15,000 miles and then every 15,000 miles thereafter. These services check safety components and perform necessary maintenance like tune-ups.

10. Read and understand the owner's manual. The owner's manual outlines the recommended maintenance schedule and procedures to properly care for that specific vehicle. New drivers should review the manual to understand when and what services are needed.