The Best Tips from Dads to Grads
Take Care of Your Car
It’s time to reveal that the Car Fairy hasn’t been maintaining your child’s ride. Even if you usually have the car professionally serviced and carry roadside assistance for emergencies, teach these basics:
Check and change the oil. Nothing shortens engine life like having too little motor oil or dirty oil. Show your child how to pop the hood and pull the dipstick. Toss a roll of paper towels and a bottle of motor oil in the trunk as a reminder. If your child won’t be home every 3000 to 5000 miles, either teach her to change the oil or have her set up reminders on her phone to take the car in for service.
Explain the fine points of checking pressure when the tires are cold and adding more air in winter when tire pressure drops. Point out the sticker inside the car door or trunk displaying the recommended pressure, so he doesn’t go by the pressure printed on the tire. And because your child grew up in a high-tech era, give him a digital pressure gauge instead of one of those sticks your dad gave you.
Know how to change a tire. Help your child practice changing a flat and point out that the instructions are in the owner’s manual. Your child will be more confident changing a tire if you swap the standard jack for a floor jack and put a sheet of plywood in the truck to provide a stable base on an uneven surface (and every roadside is an uneven surface).
Know how to jump a battery. Reduce the risk of a dead car battery by replacing an aging one before your child drives off into the future. Put a set of cables in the trunk, explain how to use them and, as backup, bookmark the instructions in the car owner’s manual.
Be ready for an emergency. Stash an emergency kit suited to your region in the trunk. Definitely include water, energy bars, a flashlight with fresh batteries, a first-aid kit and a blanket.
Fortunately, your child’s first apartment has a building manager to handle repairs. But make sure your child knows how to shut off water to an overflowing toilet and light the pilot light on the water heater. Before you head home, leaving your child to grapple with spending the first night in a strange place, stock the supply closet with these essentials:
- Light bulbs
- Batteries for the smoke detector, carbon monoxide alarm and remote
- Essential tools, including a power drill/driver and bits, screwdrivers, a hammer, pliers, an adjustable wrench, WD-40, small drain snake and plenty of duct tape
- Cleaning supplies, including all-purpose cleaner, sponges, disinfecting wipes, microfiber clothes, a broom and dust pan, and laundry supplies.
- A fire extinguisher rated for all types of home fires.
-by Erin Hynes