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Though a good chunk of the country is still experiencing harsh winter storms, it may be time to talk to your teen about washing the car.
Before you send your teen out to the driveway with a bucket, a sponge and a winter coat, know that it’s crucial to handle this carefully. Regularly washing your car in the winter is actually an important aspect of owning a vehicle, but like many maintenance steps, it’s one we sometimes put off or forget about.
If you teach your teen to ignore this responsibility, however, it can damage their vehicle and even put them at risk on the roads.
Sometimes, we’re only motivated to get our vehicle washed when the dirt and grime is so thick you can write ‘Wash Me’ on the windshield with your finger. Washing your car on a regular basis is a good habit for your teen to learn, but it’s not just about the vehicle’s appearance.
In the winter, salt is often used to clear roads of ice and snow. When we drive in these conditions, that salt can build up and eat away at a vehicle’s metal surfaces, especially on the underbody. This can lead to rust which can in turn cause damage and affect how the vehicle runs. Because we can’t easily see the underside of the car, this problem can often go unnoticed until the rust creeps up to a more visible area. A regular wash can help avoid this issue and keep the vehicle running well.
Keep safety in mind
Of course, no one wants to be out with soap and water in bad weather, so it helps to wait for a warmer day before washing the car. Not only will this keep you and your teen more comfortable but it also helps prevent freezing of the car’s doors and locks after the wash.
Automated or local car washes can make this process faster (your teen may not even have to exit the vehicle!) but they also raise the cost. Choose the option that works best for you and your teen, but always keep safety in mind. Wait for warmer weather and be cautious of ice when walking around the vehicle.
Remind your teen to check the pressure of their tires, as well. Cold winter weather can drop the pressure significantly and knowing how to check and refill tires is an essential task for your teen to learn.
Winter wash checklist
Before finishing the wash, encourage your teen to check the vehicle’s sensors and cameras, too; keeping these features clear of snow and ice is crucial to keeping them working properly. Look over the vehicle’s manual with your teen to learn which features are present and visit MyCarDoesWhat.org to understand how they all work.
A winter car wash may not be your idea of fun, but look at it this way: if your teen can get the car washed in the winter, they’ll have no excuse in the warmer months!
DriveitHOME™ is an initiative of the National Safety Council, designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers. DriveitHOME™ offers free resources parents can use to help their teen build experience to become safer drivers.
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