Basic vehicle safety checklist: Teen Driver edition
According to the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), nearly 60% of teenagers who begin driving are behind the wheel of the already-owned family car.
Before you get ready to hand over the keys, here are a few quick checkpoints you can focus on to ensure safe and happy travels for cars new and old:
- Fluid levels. Check and, if needed, top off oil, transmission, brake, power steering, radiator, and windshield-washer fluids.
- Tires. Check tread (at least 2/32 of an inch) and pressure (specifications are usually in the door frame or owner's manual). Over-inflation leads to skidding in wet conditions; under-inflation causes sloppy handling and premature wear. Don't forget the spare tire!
- Wipers. Inspect them for cracks and separation. Wiper blades should be soft and pliable.
- Lights. Test all turn signals, brake lights, headlights, and replace burned-out bulbs if needed. Check headlights' alignment to make sure they don't blind oncoming drivers.
- Battery. Carefully remove corrosion around battery posts to help ensure top performance.
- Hoses and belts. Check for proper fit, and replace anything with signs of blistering, fraying, or splitting. Summer's heat only speeds rubber breakdown.
Why not use the checklist as a teaching moment for your teen driver and review the items together? Teens will learn basic vehicle how-to’s, and the new driver will enjoy a family car in tip-top shape.