Daddies Teaching Daughters: Automotive Knowledge

Are you wishing that there was a gift that you could give your daughter that would last longer than an ipod or the newest and best cell phone? Well there is, Dad! These days with education being what it is, there is a lot a Dad can teach his daughter that will serve her well in her life and that can build a bond with that teenager. Schools with budget cuts are cutting back on Driver's Ed programs, some no longer teach Auto Mechanics because of rising insurance costs.


Do you have a teen that will soon be driving? Boy or girl, they should be taught how to change a flat tire, change their own oil, and how to maybe check their own brakes. If you are a "backyard mechanic", these skills can immeasurably add to your child's education and, later, save them some money too. Can you change your own oil filter and air filter? Teach these things to your daughter as a build up to owning that all important first car. Safety tips, like not changing a flat at night in the dark, are just plain common sense but who knows if your teen would even think of that in the panic of a flat tire? Teaching her to drive until she reaches a well lit and populated area to change that tire is very important, but who will teach her these things if you don't.


Here are a couple of lists you can use to teach her some of the things that she can use to help herself out if and when she needs to do routine maintenance on her vehicle. My daughters were not allowed to get their license, and I would not even consider helping them get that first car, until they knew the following things. Mom, if you are reading this and you are a single parent, enlist the aid of a brother, uncle or Granddad. If you don't know how to do these things yourself, make it a learning experience for yourself and your daughter.

Safety First

Teach your daughter about her tires, what to watch for in the wear patterns, and what the proper air pressure is for her tires. Tuck an air pressure gauge in her Christmas stocking and be sure she knows how to use it. Teach her how to use that lug wrench and how to use the jack to safely remove and change her tire. Maybe you know a trick or two that you can teach her, in case of emergency.


Teach her about her emergency brake. God forbid, she may be stuck on the side of a mountain but that emergency brake could help save her life. My husband taught me that I could use a chunk of wood to hold up the car to change the tire in case of emergency, this is what I mean by tricks.

Teach her the safety rules of the road, especially about driving at night when she may be coming home from work late. Teach her how to use her emergency signs or beacons, such as where to put them. Tell her to stay locked in her car and use her cell phone until help comes if she is stuck with a non functional car at night. Get her one of those windshield protectors that are reflective and says "I Need Help" on it. I'm sorry to say this, but also teach her at night not to accept help from strangers. In this day and age, they might not really be there to help her.


Make sure that, in the folder where she keeps her insurance card and her registration, she also has a list of emergency numbers. Take her to meet your mechanic and the tire guy that gets you a great deal and the guys at the auto parts store so that she will be familiar with the people that you deal with and people who she can trust. In a small town, you might also be able to introduce her to the tow truck driver. Teach her how to have a bad weather kit in the backseat or trunk so that she is prepared with all she will need if she gets stranded in a storm. Teach her how to make one and how to replenish it.

General Maintenance

Now on to general maintenance, here is a list of things you can teach her from the basics to more complicated jobs but if she knows how to do some of them it will help her to save money.


  • Oil And Fluids: Teach her about changing and checking her own fluids. She should know where her "dipsticks" are and I am not talking about the idiot that she is dating. Teach her how to correctly check her oil and transmission fluid. You might want to teach her to keep a quart of each in her trunk, along with a rag for checking the fluids. If you know how to change your own oil, teach her that too. It is a dirty and messy job but, over the lifetime of a car, can save her quite a bit of money. Teach her where the windshield washer fluid reservoir is and how much to use to fill it. Teach her how to buy new fluids and what kind of oil she should use and teach her how often she should change her fluids and how often to check them. Teach her the difference between "summer oil" and "winter oil", if you live in a part of the country where you need to do an oil change for the changing seasons.
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  • Fuses: Changing and replacing a blown fuse is another thing that is simple to teach her how to check. Show her where the fuse box is and how to change a fuse. With newer cars, everything is going to computer boxes but most people buy their kids used older cars for their first cars.
  • Batteries: Checking the connections at her battery. You don't know how many times we got called out for a loose connection at the battery; make sure she has a good flashlight in her trunk.
  • Windshield Wipers: Teach her how to change them, and how to look for signs of wear. My husband forgot to teach this to one daughter who etched her windshield because she did not know how to change the windshield wipers.
  • Car Washing: Sounds simple enough but take your daughter to the car wash and teach her how to wash her car. Our daughter washed her car with the pressure hose set on engine degreaser and really hurt her paint job. Teaching her how to detail the inside will give her pride in herself and her car.
  • Brakes: How to check her brakes and what noises mean. We all know that a metallic grinding sound means that your brakes are in serious need of repair but, if no one teaches her that, your daughter could be driving around with malfunctioning brakes for months, thinking that it is nothing. If you know how to do a brake job and feel she could handle and learn to do that properly, teach her how. If not, teach her where the best mechanic is for the job.
  • Jump Start: Teach her how to jump start her car and to keep a pair of jumper cables in her trunk.

Well, Dad, even if you could only teach her the best money saving places to go to get her oil changed and where to buy the best tires, you have empowered your daughter to be her best.

In my next article, I am going to give you some suggestions on how to teach your daughter some easy to learn home repairs.

About The Author: Debra Frick is a mother of 5 and a grandmother to 7 grandsons. She is a published author and poetress. Born in California, she now lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and many pets. Her hobbies include crocheting, reading, arts and crafts and bargain hunting.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 213 Posts
October 16, 20070 found this helpful

Hurrah! Thank you for your wondeful post! No child (Girl, OR Boy) should be able to borrow the family car or drive their own car without learning several important things about how they work. Here's what I made sure my kids could do BEFORE I let them drive by themselves:

#1) FLAT TIRES: Can they CHANGE A TIRE & do you have EVERYTHING you need to do this safely. That means, Is the spare inflated... (You never know after it's sat for an extended period) They need to know WHERE to change the tire: On level ground away from fast moving cars. They need to know it's okay to drive to a safer place with a flat as long as they drive very slowly & only a short distance. Tell them: It's better to ruin your rim that to have them hit by a car! ---> Have the teenager actually take the car's tire off & put it back on. Make sure they know to tighten the lug's in a "star" pattern & to use their body weight to tighten the lugs sufficiently (you may need to buy a star lug wrench with longer handles because many girls don't have as much upper body strength) Teach them that IF they have to drive home on the smaller spare tire that they can't go over 50 miles per hour!

#2) TIRE PRESSURE: how to CHECK TIRE PRESSURE & exactly what PSI to inflate their tires to & how to add air to a tire;

#3 OIL: How to CHECK THE OIL, what line to fill to & how to put more oil in.

#4) WATER: Check the WATER reservoir & where to add more water. Teach them NOT to open the radiator cap when the car is warm or hot.

#5) DRIVE A CLUTCH: I always made sure my children could drive a car with a manual transmission (a clutch) even if THEIR car is an automatic, because you never know what emergency may present itself, say for example: to drive a hurt or sick friend to the hospital or the friend with the "Clutch" car may have drank alcohol (or whatever) & your child may need to know how to drive a clutch to get themselves home safely. (Don't kid yourself... It happens!) It may not be your child doing the drinking, but your child may need to be the one who drives everyone home safely & just the simple act of teaching them to drive a car with a manual transmission may save the day.

#6) GAUGES: What do they mean? Teach them about the gauges (& "idiot" lights) in the car's dash & what they mean & what it to do if the car overheats etc.

#7) SIMPLE REPAIRS: Teach them simple repair skills, like how to change a headlight, tail light or blinker Bulb. Where to add windshield wiper fluid & how to change their wiper blades etc.

#8) EMERGENCIES: Teach them where their emergency blinkers are, & when to use them. Also, teach them how to use a flare & emergency triangles & where to place them. Most importantly, teach them that IF they are stuck somewhere to LOCK THEIR DOORS & wait for the police. If someone tries to assist them just tell the person to call 911 for them! Do NOT open the doors & get out! You never know!

Just knowing these simple car repair techniques give both boys & girls confidence to learn more & when their friends see they can check their own oil, they will think that's cool & want to learn for themselves too! If a child can't do ALL of the previous simple car maintenance & repairs, they shouldn't be able to drive by themselves without an adult.

*** Always keep at least one or more flashlights in the car with good batteries!

----> One more thing: Teach you children (Especially your daughters) that if they get pulled over by the Police or State Patrol & they don't feel it's safe to stop (I'm amazed how many State Patrol Cops are pulling people over in the shoulder of the FAST lane on the intestates!... VERY UNSAFE!) Tell them to just slow down, put their blinkers on & drive to the SAFEST, well lit place they can find quickly. Tell them it's better to get a ticket (for avoiding arrest) that it is to get hurt! Have them CHECK the officers BADGE! Before opening their window or exiting their car & if they fell "funny" about the situation, have the officer call a second officer or a female cop! These days, you hear all the time on the news about someone impersonating a police officer. You also hear about predators poking a hole in a female's tires at a bar or lounge or club & then following her, knowing she'll get a flat, then offering to help. Teach her to STAY IN THE LOCKED CAR & wait! ... Have anyone who offers help, just call 911 for them....

* Of course, these days; it's best if all of out teenagers have a cell phone if they are driving! This way we can check on them AND they can call home for help!

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October 17, 20070 found this helpful

The feedback on this subject is fantastic. My dad was a mechanic (now known as "technicians") and eventually a service manager. As a girl, growing up I spent a lot of time in garage with him. I learned a LOT about cars and developed a passion for them and a strong mechanical knowledge. That eventually turned into a career for me that lasted for over 20 years and I became known in the business. Women customers preferred to talk to me because they felt more comfortable talking to another women who would use "Laymen's terms." So for all the girls out there, there are lots of careers out there today in the auto and diesel repair industry. Including working as technicians. There is a real demand for them, so the pay rate is quite favorable. It's not a guys club anymore!

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By glinda (Guest Post)
October 17, 20070 found this helpful

When I was a teen beginner driver, it was a rule to not only buy your own car, and insurance in our house, but, to also be able to maintain it. Dad would show me how to change the oil, and tires, check the fluids. And when it came time to change a part on my car, he would go through the process with me so I could learn how to care for my car. I still use that knowledge today. I'm a 51 year old lady, that can say, "I've installed a full muffler system, from front to back, with my dad." There are many things he taught me about a car, also how to keep it clean. We did alot of work together on my car, and I cherish those times of learning with my dad. He's gone now, but, not the lessons he has taught me. He also taught me maintenance on lawn mowers.
thanks daddy.

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