By on November 30, 2012

Public schools have the unique misfortune of being the target for every harebrained idea related to learning.

Why? Because everyone is an expert! We all have great ideas! In quiet surrender, many public schools are left with ideas that result in excessive paper pushing and basic rote memorization.

Don’t get me wrong folks. Higher order thinking skills are also valued in most public schools (outside Texas). So long as they are also far, far away from the neighboring political bonfires.

So with that in mind, why not offer one more good idea from us gearheads?

It’s not enough to know how to drive a car.

Why? Because unlike the billions of people in this world who don’t own anything remotely automotive, young folks often will have access to cheap wheels.

Those cheap wheels will become expensive at some point.  Neglecting maintenance. Not understanding what actually needs to be maintained. Not knowing how to perform a basic check on a car’s fluids.

All these things cost big money in the long run.

Then there is “the big one”, which comes in the form of a repair facility or a lobbying organization that makes their livelihood out of screwing the general public. The $3000 a/c repair that requires only $200 in parts and $2800 in b.s. The 3000 mile oil change in an era when some cars only need changes every 10k miles. The 50,000 mile strut replacement scam that has helped a million dollar facility down the street from me.

This is what I propose. A simple two hour clinic added to a driver’s ed course that would help make young people better drivers and better owners.

If the regular “just drive the damn care safely” curriculum was supplemented with a basic program on how to care for your car, and how to keep an eye out for common scams in our industry, it would make a difference.

How much of a difference? It’s hard to tell. In life a lot of people get screwed over for no good reason other than the fact that they simply don’t know they’re getting taken. Is automotive knowledge the exclusive domain of parents, family and friends? Or should schools take a small but definite role in educating those who don’t have those relations?

What says you?

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53 Comments on “Question Of The Day: Should Auto Maintenance Be Part of… Driver’s Education?...”


  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Our schools already include basic maintenance in the drivers Ed program, and IIRC, it did back in the 80s/90s when I was in school too.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      When I started driving 40+ years ago, cars could be maintained and repaired with relatively simple and affordable hand tools. Modern computerized cars require specialized diagnostic equipment that’s too expensive for the average driver. Aside from the simple stuff (oil changes, tire pressure, etc.) car maintenance is not longer DIY.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        twotone, I disagree with the assertion that it’s actually necessary to use specialized diagnostic equipment to perform routine maintenance (basically, everything in the factory service manual’s “maintenance” section) on any teenager’s car these days. A Honda Civic’s fluids, brakes, plugs, and belt can be changed easily with the purchase of a $125 book. No teen I know drives a maserati, so I fail to see how even the average VW stumps those with standard hand tools.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Specialized diagnostic equipment? Like the hand held computer that any auto parts store will plug in and read your code for you?

        That’s a cop out. Basic maintenance is still basic maintenance, you change oil, change flat tires, check your battery, check your fluids. Maybe 40+ yrs ago you had more work to do to keep a car running, and that has changed, but there is no reason young drivers shouldn’t know how to change a tire or check fluids.

        I do all my own maintenance on my cars, and my kids help when something has to be done on their own cars. My daughters have learned how to change struts, bleed brakes, change brake pads, replace coolant and hoses, replace door lock actuators and power window switches, etc, etc. I also let them check on how much something we do would cost them at the dealer or a mechanic, and see the savings. Door locks are a $30 part and $300 labor. Takes us 2-3 hrs or so, we have some bonding time, we get frustrated sometimes too, but in the end its very satisfying when we fix something ourselves, and they learn not to be afraid of cars and not to be taken advantage of by mechanics.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        diagnostic equipment? oh…you mean my phone and a micro usb to obdII connector. Sure beats banging on the block with a wrench and a stethascope.

  • avatar
    toomanycrayons

    The primary function of public schooling is to instil in the student a faith in social order, not to develop a critical capacity. If a taxpayer-funded institution were to start naming liars, where would it end? That’s just crazy talk…

    • 0 avatar
      Dave56

      +100

      I mean if we teach them to think what will come next? It would be the end of many of our most cherished beliefs.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Faith in the social order? One look at public school version of American history puts the lie to that.

      We are, they hope your kids will learn, an unfailingly greedy and racist society built on mass murder of natives and corporate rape of the environment. American involvement in foreign wars begins and ends with defeating Hitler, apparently on our own, although outside of a justified war environment we did notably incinerate millions of Japanese, Vietnamese, Iraqi, and now Afghan women and children. America also invented the peculiar institution of slavery. The only praise worthy public figure we’ve ever produced is a saintly caricature loosely based on Martin Luther King.

      The primary function of public schooling is the continued full employment of public school employees.

      • 0 avatar
        toomanycrayons

        Dan, I said faith in social order, not in THE social order. You’ve become distracted by specifics. The universal message, is and always will be: “Sit down, shut up and face the front.” Why would anyone pay for trouble?

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        At the immediate level you’re right of course. Education has long moved past effective future conscripts but now as then nobody wants revolutionaries.

        Tearing down the common heritage is indirectly buying a great deal of trouble. Functional democratic government requires the compromise of shared sacrifice and there is no such thing without a shared culture. Even money whether the functional or the democratic part is first to go.

      • 0 avatar
        01 ZX3

        America invented slavery? There has been slaves as long as there has been civilization. If you are talking about Africans, then you would be interested to know that African tribes were enslaving other tribes long before any European ever set foot there. Not that I’m defending slavery, but to say that the US “invented” slavery is a farce.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    I’ve taught my kids basic maintenance, such as oil changes and tire removal. My stepson has taken it further and regularly, and successfully, works on his truck. My 12 and 14 year-old daughters can drive stick.

    All that being said, my situation is more than the exception than the rule. The skills aren’t really respected anymore, or considered neccessary by the majority of drivers and otherwise. I believe the skills and actual desire to have these skills aren’t really respected (until a car breaks down). :It’s really a shame.

    I’ve tried to also educate my kids on lucrative and satisfying careers that don’t require a liberal arts degree (as if any do…), but rather a technical school degree or math focus. Not to get too far off focus, but the idea of spending tens of thousands of dollars to churn out an unemployed, unhappy, art history major, who thinks they want to live back at home with mom and dad, where the food, heat, and cable tv are free…not a pleasant thought.

    I’d rather they be auto techs, plumbers, or welders, who are making money and living their own lives.

    As a society, we need to embrace professions other than the legal and sports stars, and as we once did, decades ago, give our kids permission to pursue technical professions by putting the folks who fix our stuff on a pedestal.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Uh, no. In my profession you have to be able to write and get published. You also have to be a public speaker. A strong knowledge of Microsoft office is deeply appreciated. Throw in some critical thinking/analysis classes too. Most engineers get one “literature” class in college that is mostly an advanced “Dick and Jane” class. This engineering/math/hard science meme pops up on TTAC again and again. I hire people who can express their thoughts clearly, can write a report for their peers, and can speak in public without peeing their pants. A liberal arts degree will give you the ability to do all three.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        The “public speaking” part of a liberal arts eduction would be news to a lot of people. I got a BA in English from — depending upon the year — USN&WR’s #1 or #2 university, an MA in writing from the #20 USN&WR university and a JD from the #5 or 6 USN&WR law school. With the possible exception of law school (we had one first-year professor who made students “stand and recite” a la Professor Kingsfield in “The Paper Chase” movie), none of these august institutions did any instruction in public speaking as part of the mandatory curriculum. I did have one formal course in public speaking in 20-year educational career — a semester-long course in 7th grade at my public junior high school! I did competitive debating in high school and moot court in law school, but those were all extracurricular.

        Admittedly, I graduated law school 34 years ago, but something tells me that the would-be “Professor Kingsfields” have gone by the wayside . . . so most of these graduates who find themselves in court will have the distinct pleasure of learning how to do this “on the job” to the possible detriment of their clients.

        I think “joeveto3″ was making a point of the virtues of having his kids trained to be something other than paper pushers (“write reports”)and powerpoint presenters. And, while I am happy to spend hours discussing the common aesthetic which underlies Picasso’s painting and T.S. Eliot’s poetry, I think today’s kids are missing out on the distinct pleasures of doing something in the concrete, rather than the abstract, world. Auto mechanics is one of those pleasures.

        One of my best and oldest friends, going back to college, is an extremely successful lawyer who earns well in the 7 figures. But inside the multi-car garage at his home in the spiffiest town in Silicon Valley, is a complete garage, with a lift, welder, everything. Because that’s what he likes to do — restore old sports cars.

        There are folks who are gifted in dealing with the abstract. They score high on tests; they make good grades in school; they write good reports.

        But there are also people who are gifted in the concrete world as well, making things of wood, steel, etc. They derive a lot of pleasure from their work, and watching them in action is, itself, a joy.

        We call such people “craftsmen” and they do not seem to get the societal respect that they once did. We are all the poorer for it.

        And, I think that was joeveto3′s larger point.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @DC Bruce

        I went to a public undergraduate university that no one has ever heard of, and a law school that is about equally famous. I had to take two semesters of public speaking as an undergrad, and I sure spent plenty of time doing it in law school too.

        Me thinks you should have gone to lesser schools, you might have gotten a better education.

        But seriously, I simply do not buy into this ridiculous meme that “Government can do no right” that is everywhere these days. The Government in the US actually does a pretty good job for the most part. I am perfectly happy with my public education, at the High School, College, and Law School levels. Though I am not a practicing lawyer, nor an accountant (my undergad major). You get out of any school what you put into it. And I firmly believe that what you study in school often does not matter, as long as you finish. Obviously, you probably can’t get a job as an engineer without an engineering degree, or be a Dr without going to med school, but for the most part, what you have for a degree does not matter very much past your first job.

        As to the original question, you bet! Simple stuff like changing a tire, checking oil, checking tire pressures, checking coolant levels, and a general overview of how a car works should be part of Driver’s Ed. It was when I took it, though my Driver’s Ed program was private, not through my High School.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        @krhodes1

        Well knock me over with a semi! Public speaking as a college course! None of my 3 daughters, two of whom went to well-regarded state universities and one of whom went to a private university that is bigger than many state universities (USC) got public speaking course. OTOH, since my USC daughter was a BFA theater major, I could you could say that she got that course, in a manner of speaking. ;-0

        At least my Ivy League education cost a fraction of what it does today, even adjusted for inflation. . .

        I’m not sure how we got the government into this discussion . . but I’m not signing up.

        For the things you mention . . . it is just as likely that an inexperienced dipstick reader will read it wrong . . . and overfill, which can lead to ugly consequences in some engines. Changing a tire is difficult and dangerous, especially when it’s done by the side of a highway. Common use of air-drive impact wrenches by garages usually overtorque lug nuts rendering them difficult to loosen with the “angle iron” tire tool in most cars. I think most are better off calling the tow truck . . . not to mention that even compact spares are becoming endangered species these days.

        As I said before, a lot of cars monitor fluid levels automatically, which I think is a good development.

    • 0 avatar
      toomanycrayons

      joeveto3, the people who are the subject of Art History courses were invariably tradespeople. Only with the withdrawal of The Church and the aristocracy, and their replacement by tax funding, did the popular mad genius model take over: Hollywood knows. That wedded with the political need to hide true unemployment figures by shuffling hoards into higher education created the myth of special knowledge commonly ascribed to the Arts. Simon Schama’s, Rembrandt’s Eyes, offers a startling insight into the scurrying genius, scratching out a living by trying to please his benefactors. The grovelling humility of such an artistic giant simply trying to make his way stands in stark contrast to the many modern pretenders.

      • 0 avatar
        ruckover

        I think you are mistaking the liberal arts for art.

      • 0 avatar
        joeveto3

        Holy cow. @toomanycrayons, your post is hands-down, the best. My original post was written a bit early and on this damned Samsung tablet, where I am forced to hunt and peck. That being said, I don’t think I made my point very clear.

        Back in the 90′s, when I was earning my BA in….wait for it….English, it was a different economy. I could graduate already employed, with a nice salary and benefits. These days, I really don’t believe it’s probable. Possible, sure. Probable? Not really. Unfortunately, a lot of kids are spending (borrowing) large sums to find this out. School debt is nearly at 1 trillion.

        What I hope for, isn’t so much a de-emphasis of secondary education, or college, but rather that we embrace other equally important ways of making a living. A young adult who would like to learn a skill should be encouraged. Not everyone is destined for a 4-year degree and beyond. Nor should they.

        Liberal arts majors have their place, but really, how many dance majors and women’s studies majors does today’s economy need?

        The trades have a certain “stink” about them (i.e. regarded as a step below university education) and I think that is unfortunate, unfair, and plain stupid.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Consumer education of all sorts, especially finance, is an admirable goal, but I doubt that adding a few hours to drivers ed would yield much in the way of results. Like most things in life, first-hand experience is the only meaningful teacher. As the saying goes, good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      So make it part of the curriculum like industrial arts used to be. Over a year in junior high in the mid 80s everyone in my class learned typesetting, injection molding, woodworking, drafting, metalworking and how to thread and operate a sewing machine. I’m sure none of those are taught today but if a component of drivers ed requires someone to drive it should also require them to do some hands on work to the car.

      I had to learn all of that the hard way. Usually in the parking lot outside AutoZone.

  • avatar
    skor

    I’ve been advocating for high schools to teach basic life skills for a long time now, and not just basic car maintenance. Before kids graduate from high school, they should be taught how to balance a checkbook, put together a household budget, understand the terms of a student loan, auto loan or mortgage……a year long course called “Basic Life Skills 101″. Unfortunately most American parents seem to believe that teaching creationism is top priority for the public schools.

    • 0 avatar

      We *had* that course, when I was in high school (1970′s). “Personal Finance”, taught about family budgets, home and auto insurance, how to prepare a tax return, how to fill out a check, how to balance a check book. Was a semester course, we took it on the alternate semester from “Personal Hygiene” that covered how to take care of *you*, illnesses & their treatment, etc. I’m just old enough that society still thought some portion of high school students would enter life after graduation, take up trades, start families, whatever, right then, and needed common sense skills to cope with such.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      In Florida it was called Consumer Math. I don’t know if it’s still offered. I used to teach a similar class called Practical Mathematics to prisoners as part of the GED program. Most of them were stunned at how much a $5,000 car costs by the time you pay it off.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      + 1

      This was part of our “accounting” elective when I went through highschool, but now has been dropped from the curriculum for reasons I can not comprehend. There was a survey/quiz on financial literacy in one of our better national newspapers (Canada) recently and almost half the respondents failed to answer correctly simple questions like “all else being equal the cost of borrowing generally increases with the length of the term of the loan” and the like.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Its called Senior Survival, and they still have it here in Florida.

  • avatar

    I would like them to learn how to drive in conditions beyond driving to the mall in nice weather. I had to take the German driving test a few years ago and it was hard, like it should be. This is one area I think a private system would be better than our current watered-down public system.

  • avatar
    LeBaron

    My initial response was yes.

    But that’s from my own experience. By the time I got my license I could replace and set breaker points, gap spark plugs, balance the idle jets on a 2 barrel carburetor, rebuild said carburetor, replace and adjust brake shoes on drum brakes, clean a crankcase road draft tube….

    Oh wait……

    Never mind. Just teach ‘em how to check their tire pressure….

    What? You say there’s a light on the dash for that?

    Oh well.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    No.

    Sadly, most American young people are now too dumb to figure out proper maintenance, or too illiterate to read instructions. Many car makers (e.g., BMW) want to take maintenance out of the hands of these “drivers” with full-care programs at their dealers. Can’t say I blame them. We as a country now rank 17th in math and science.

    Rather than car-maintenance, our Driver Ed programs (which should be a mandatory 1- semester course) should teach kids how really to drive properly, including using a stick shift.

    To quote Joe Chamberlain, who writes for “Roundel” magazine, BDBH’s* abound. The only question is when you are going to get hit by one. And car maintenance has nothing to do with that.

    * Brain-Dead Booger-Heads.

    ———–

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      As much as a fan as I am of the pleasures of a manual transmission (and I learned to drive on a 1960 International Harvester pickup truck), the reality is that stick shift transmissions have been eclipsed in all respects, except reliability and durability. Even there, a good torque converter automatic — while it won’t perform as well as a stick shift — is at least as durable, if not more so (figuring that a clutch is going to need replacement at 150,000 miles, if not sooner). A DCT performs better than a stick shift, even if it’s not as reliable (yet) or as involving to drive.

      Pretty soon, the proper operation of a manual transmission is going to be as valuable a skill as the proper operation of a hand choke in getting a cold engine started is today — something that is useful only if you have an interest in operating antique automobiles.

      Personally, I have no problem with the use of a complete set of sensors and warning indicators to advise car operators when maintenance is required or when some operating parameter is out of specification (low oil, low coolant, low tire pressure).

      I am frankly more concerned about the proliferation of touch screen control systems that distract the driver while he/she is trying to adjust the cabin temperature, find the way to his destination or work the “entertainment system” f/k/a the car radio.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        I agree. Even look at the high-level cars like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Aston Martin, etc.

        Paddle-Auto transmissions are finding their way in to a once manual-exclusive domain.

        For the distraction, I point to my Q7. I have the MMI Premium Plus Pkg. There is a little screen in the center of the dashboard, so I can scroll music, radio, nav, etc all with the steering wheel controls and keep my eyes on the road. I wish all cars with nav had this.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        DC Bruce and Mandalorian..

        My comment was meant to emphasize “INCLUDING” stick-shift training, not to be interpreted as SOLELY stick-shift training. This is the DE model used in Europe, for example.

        The type of car control and sensitivity to road and slippery conditions, and how to correct for them, can be accomplished on a test car with stick shift very easily and inexpensively. Certainly, a DE student can also be taught how to use automatics (torque-converter); automated’s (solenoid-shifting, SMG); and DPK (Dual-clutch, Paddle-shifting).

        But even beyond the training phase….
        The benefits of a pure manual transmission have nothing to do with “performs better”, or “been eclipsed”, or easier to use, or gives same/better gas mileage, or any other similar things. Its benefits come from the sensuous human machine interaction that derives from an instant coupling/decoupling of power delivery and re-engagement under your control in a fun, robust, interactive device in which you can feel vibration and the pavement beneath you. It allows a road ballet that has no comparison. TTAC responders have noted all this before.

        Yes, I have driven the others. There just is no comparison. Unlike your choke analogy, which can be supplanted by an automatic choking or enriching device, the manual transmission has still non-replaceable unique capabilities that no computer-controlled substitute can match. Read some of the reviews: the Car and Driver or Road & Tack folks are almost invariably saying of automatics/automated’s: well, yes, it’s mostly OK, but seems to hunt for the right gear; or, it didn’t downshift when it should have; or, gas mileage did not come close to EPA; or, it caused a jerk upon acceleration through the gears; or, we had to take it back for readjustment, or, it costs a mint to repair, etc, etc..

        And, no, replacing a $500 clutch every 200k miles (that’s how long they last for me) is not the same the same thing as replacing a $3K-$4K automatic transmission every 100K miles (or thereabouts). BTW: I don’t even want to think about the actual replacement cost of a NEW Porsche PDK when the old one fails!

        Look, the bottom line is this: you either are a guy who likes the earthy, down and dirty, the elementary experience of seat-of-the-pants driving,— or you don’t. And If you don’t, that’s OK: you have plenty of company. I frankly find all the dash-board gadgets to be a pain in the posterior, and my ideal car is an Allard J2X MkII, with no traction control, no ESC, no nav-screen; and with 6 gauges and three toggle switches and honking beautiful Tremec manual. See link.

        http://www.allardj2x.com/

        =============

  • avatar

    From a generation that seemingly didn’t have as much, most of my age group made do with cars that needed work to keep going. So we had to know how to deal with them, including a basic understanding of what made them go, and stop. Of course, cars back then were far more simply engineered. But on a part-time, fast food worker’s income, you learned how to do stuff on your own, and what to make sure you did so that nothing *really* expensive would need repair due to your cluelessness.

  • avatar
    raph

    A basic course in vehicle maintenance would be good for new drivers teaching the importance of regular maintenance intervals and basic checks with some general exposure to the process for doing such checks and maintenance through video.

    Once armed with the knowledge, a new driver can decide for themselves if they want to perform these checks and maintenance or have a professional do them.

    Perhaps in tandem there could be hands on basic maintenance class for those who want to expand their knowledge. Tough to decide how inclusive it should be? Oil, filters, and tire rotations. Include brake maintenance and battery replacement???

    This first bit while easy to do does require a fair bit of knowledge to perform successfully – case in point on a modern car equipped with a brake controller just cranking the piston back into the caliper without opening the bleeder screws is a recipe for more expensive repairs as junk can be forced back into the controller ruining it, I see supposed brake “professionals” doing this all the time either out of ignorance or just trying to rush through the job or just plain laziness. The last bit even easier still requires the proper sequence for doing so and done carelessly can literally explode in your face.

    Then there is the issue of having the proper tools to do these things (torque wrench anybody).

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    I graduated in 2001 and my year was the last one to have Home Ec and a basic “Intro to Technology” course, which itself was well watered down, but at least put some tools in our hands.

    In my opinion, learning how to put together a basic meal and having a basic understanding of how the machines and technologies that we rely on daily, operate is far more important than cramming in an extra semester of Art History or Calculus. The latter two have value, but only in specific cases and can always be taken in college. The former (cancelled) subjects are universal.

    I’ll be the 100th person to echo that it’s time we refocus on trades – jobs that get things done – rather than producing another generation of Political Science majors looking down their noses on the professionals whom they call to fix every problem they face in life, aside from their parents, whom they call to pay for said professionals.

  • avatar
    turbobrick

    Basic maintenance yes, and by basic I mean stuff like how to replace wipers, how to change a tire, how to check fluid levels, how to identify issues like worn out brake pads. Might be a good idea to show how to properly use jumper cables too. It would only add few hours to the curriculum and wouldn’t leave people so damn helpless when it comes to their vehicles.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “If the regular “just drive the damn care safely” curriculum was supplemented with a basic program on how to care for your car, and how to keep an eye out for common scams in our industry, it would make a difference.”

    The driver’s ed course that I took included information about auto repair. My driver ed’s instructor even dragged us out to the faculty parking lot to show us where the major parts were located on his car.

    These things don’t matter much. This sort of education doesn’t hit home until someone is confronted with the problem. And since the kid who is in driver’s ed probably isn’t driving or paying for repairs, it doesn’t do much good.

    I didn’t know anything about auto repair until I already had a license. I became motivated to learn once I was forced to deal with the trials and tribulations of owning a lousy car. I had to personally feel the pain before I saw the reason to understand this stuff. I would presume that other teenagers would be in the same boat — teaching this stuff to those who aren’t yet driving is probably a waste of time and money.

    If you want to engage in social engineering, then pass a law that requires everyone’s first car to be a POS. That experience will motivate a few people to want to stop feeling like victims and to start learning more about how to keep them running (although most would just gripe a lot and never bother to learn anything.)

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    In the Soviet Union, driver’s ed was over a year long, and delved into carburetors, suspension systems, you name it. Back then the car owners were their own mechanics, it was the only way to stay on the road with a lada, moskvitch, volga, or zaporozhets (like my dad’s 966). We were also lucky in that we had a garage in one of the sprawling state owned garage complexes built back then. it includes a full underground level (the pit), a true luxury even here in the US! When we moved to the US my dad started using an independent Honda mechanic for our succession of 80s and 90s Civics, as he didn’t have a garage or tools to work with. My brother and I have carried on the DIY wrenching torch, doing all of our own work, up to and including welding in sheet metal, internal engine work, etc.

    BTW we still have the Zaporozhets parked in the snazzy garage, crank starts right up after a year of sitting! :)

  • avatar

    I think, especially in my state, that people should be better-trained at driving, but if someone wants to neglect his vehicle, that’s his choice. And there’s nothing that says a person who does know how to maintain his car will do so…

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    I also am the generation who grew up with plug changes, ignition points and carburetors. For the most part, that knowledge is not too necessary anymore, except for troubleshooting outdoor power equipment that has been ruined by today’s ethanol gas.

    However,
    we bought our son his first car, a 1500 dollar Mercedes 300D non-turbo. It had a freshly rebuilt engine with 3 grand documented in parts, done by a very competent machinist.

    The terms of ownership were as follows–
    Son was responsible for:
    insurance
    oil changes
    gas
    tires
    brake work
    any repairs required due to negligence in checking vital fluids.

    My responsibility:
    anything catastrophic not covered above not due to negligence.
    I taught him how to do all the above maintenance and helped him thru the process as many times as needed until he was comfortable with those steps.

    Results?
    80,000 miles of very reliable driving. The car was t-boned by a drunk, it did a great job of protecting our son (B pillar pushed in 6″) and the engine and tranny continues to run in another freshly restored 300D belonging to a friend. I believe the engine now has 250K on it and it doesn’t leak a drop.

    Our son now owns a 3 YO XB gen2 which he paid off early, keeps beautiful care of it and is coming over Sunday for an oil change, check of brakes and tire rotation.

    I think the plan worked.

  • avatar
    nikita

    To get a pilot license in the US, there is a lot more education, training and testing than to get a driver license. Even so, no one is taught about maintenance, other than the legalities of paperwork.

    The operator of a vehicle does need to know how to do a walk around safety inspection. How to check items like tires, lights, wipers, etc. need to be taught, and not in the classroom, but physically demonstrated.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I think Saturn had a basic how to check you fluids, tires, and change your oil/filter and air filter class for new owners. I could be wrong. I was using an oil change pit at the time.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    Given the number of tales of clueless owners who don’t check/change oil or inflate tires, some basic maintenance topics should not only be part of driver’s ed but also part of the driving test.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Fact is drivers ed in schools is becoming quite scarce. I’m lucky that my school district is one of the few in our area that still offers it. However it is not a normal class like in the old days it is an after school or summer class.

    That being said there is a car maintence section and kids had to change a tire on their own/parents car and bring in a signed sheet confirming it. There was also a test on parts of the car and they had to go out to the drivers ed car find the dipstick, coolant reservoir, master cyl and some other items and show how to properly check the fluid levels.

    Of course the teacher in our district is a bit of a car nut as she drives a Miata. We also have something else very rare at local schools a auto shop program.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    @Scoutdude,

    Nice to hear a school system has something like that in place. It looks to me in the minority, though.

    But parents can do the same at home, teaching the kids to be self-sufficient.

    Nothing more pathetic than a 30+ YO male driver waiting by the side of the road with a flat tire and not having the tools/ knowhow / spare with air in it to take care of it himself. I’ve seen plenty of it on Bay Area freeways.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ 55 wrench, it seems I only get a flat when I’m dressed for work. Lots easier to call for roadside service than ruin a pair of suit slacks. Worse flat was in Gary, IN in my white uniform. BP security and one of their mechanics hooked me up. Gratuities were given. It seems nothing breaks/goes wrong when I’m in jeans and a t-shirt. Used to an irownworker, worked on family farm equipment. Difference between knowing how and not wanting to.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      How do poeple not know how to change a tire?

      I’d think a bigger issue is that a lot of cars don’t come with spare tires these days.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “I’d think a bigger issue is that a lot of cars don’t come with spare tires these days.”

        I have cars like that. In addition to the standard issue “mobility kit”, I carry a plug kit as well. Works so well that I put a kit and 12v inflater in my cars that have spares. I think it’s much quicker and easier to just plug the tire (leaving it on the vehicle) than actually changing it out. You also eliminate the hassle of taking time to get the tire repaired and driving around with the donut spare.

  • avatar
    jimbobjoe

    The time is over for adding extra requirements to driver’s ED/driver’s licensing laws.

    Uptake rates for driver’s licenses among the young is dropping, and will continue dropping. They are doing a costs/benefits analysis of driving and the numbers are coming out wrong…most jobs that a 16-20 year old can get don’t pay enough to cover many of the expenses related to a car. It’s just no longer worth it unless the parents are paying a lot of it, so why bother going through the hassle of getting a driver’s license? Besides, self-driving cars are right around the corner.

    Truthfully, we are a few years away from begging people to get driver’s licenses.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I think you make a good point. After 30 years (or more) of government policies discouraging car ownership (such as requiring that 20% of motor fuel taxes collected from motorists be spent on mass transit, rather than better roads), increasing traffic congestion in most metropolitan areas and the generally increasing costs of car ownership, for most of the younger generation a car is, at best a necessary evil, not an instrument of pleasure. When one of my kids, after a year of working in LA, got a job in NYC, she didn’t shed a tear over selling her car. It was just one less thing to have to deal with. Now that she’s back in LA, she has a car, but pays a premium to live close to her job and avoid the freeways.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Vehicle maintenance should absolutely be part of driver’s training. Of course, where I live, not speaking ENGLISH doesn’t preclude one from having a license, let alone citizenship.

    Try that in Britain, Canada, China or Japan (where from what I understand one needs a college degree to be able to obtain a license to drive), they’d laugh in yer face for not assimilating into their culture first.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    –and I started working blue collar jobs at first too, and have total respect for those that still do. It’s different now, I often need to see customers in the tech sector at their facilities on a regular basis. Dressed in button down shirt and slacks and jacket if required.

    I’ve already decided if I get a flat on the freeway, I will sacrifice the tire to get off the freeway and then change it and go about my business. Dittos for a pair of slacks if for whatever reason I’m stuck on the freeway. With the way good samaritans, Highway Patrol officers and stranded motorists get hurt by errant drivers, your best odds are NOT being on the side of the freeway.

    Funny after 2006 I haven’t been stranded despite driving at least 150,000 miles since that time. Why? Not sure, but good car maintenance and awareness of conditions of tires and brakes has surely helped.

  • avatar
    Ibizaguy

    In Spain (where you have to pay +/- €1,000 to get a driver’s license) it is mandatory to study a part of “mechanics”, in order to understand the basics of what an engine does.

    In theory, you should also be able to perform very basic mechanic actions, such as check your oil, inflate your tires and change a flat tire. However, I am the only one I know that actually learnt that in driver’s school. It happened that while I was attending classes, a girl in the school failed because she got a flat tire during her exam and didn’t even know where the spare wheel was. She was flunked immediately. In theory (at least back in 1993) you are supposed to be able to stop the car properly and, if you had the tools, at least try to change the wheel.


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