Mom’s Guide to Car Care
If the distribution in your home is anything like that in mine, your partner takes care of all things car-related, aside from getting gas. I know that other moms are more car-savvy than I am, and their knowledge goes beyond knowing how to check the oil and recognizing where the windshield-wiper fluid goes; if you’re one of them, then I commend you on that! For the rest of us, though, there are some things that we need to know about keeping our cars in safe driving condition as we traipse to work, to the grocery store and to soccer practice. Here are a few of them:
- Get someone to show you how to change and tire and check fluids. With any luck, you can defer to the professionals (or to your husband) for these types of things, but if you get a flat tire 20 miles away from home, you’ll be glad that you have the know-how.
- Have your fluids and tire pressure checked regularly. If you’re getting your oil changed every few months or as recommended in your owner’s manual, this should be done at the same time. Finding out that you’re low on brake fluid or antifreeze is an easy fix while you’re at the shop getting your car serviced anyway; finding out while you’re cruising down the highway at 70 miles per hour is stress-inducing.
- Did you know that four out of five car seats are installed or used incorrectly? Go to your local police station or find a child passenger safety technician by visiting the SafeKids website, and have your seats checked. Remember that kids need to be in booster seats until they’re about 4’9”, so go check with the pros even if you have an older child.
- Watch out for water. Here in Florida, it’s rainy season, and roadways can become submerged very quickly. Shallow puddles can cause you to hydroplane and skid, and running water can actually wash your car downstream, with you in it! Go slowly and if you have any doubts about the depth of the water, don’t even attempt to drive though; find another way.
- Pay attention to what your car is telling you. It doesn’t take any intuition, just some care in watching for warning lights, mysterious sounds and strange smells. If something seems “off,” then take your car in to be checked as soon as possible. The last thing you need is to be stranded on the side of the road with the kids in tow while you should be on your way home or to some fun destination! Signs that you need to stop immediately include smoking from the engine or the brake light staying on after you start the car and release the parking brake. Strange sounds, a “check engine” light, or other problems should be checked as soon as reasonably possible.
Keep yourself, your car and your family safe by using preventative maintenance to keep your car in good running order. Also, consider taking a car-care course; sometimes community colleges or technical high schools will host them. One thing is for certain: Seeing Mom change a tire like a pro will make your kids think that you’re truly a supermom, able to handle any situation with grace!