Hammer Time: Growing Up, Growing Fast

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

Our oldest daughter is in fifth grade. It scares me that in only four short years she will be able to drive one of our cars. Ten years from now she will be as old as I was when I met my wife for the first time. Is she finally growing up? Am I beginning to grow old? Who thought middle aged life would be so damn intense?

Like any Dad, I want to plan a few things for her. On one side I don’t want her to become in terminal need of ‘Economic Outpatient Care’. She has to establish her own merits and foundations.

But I also want her to have the freedom to focus on what’s important. School, learning about life far beyond the classroom, and the ultimate freedom to pursue what interests her without having to deal with the modern day debt trap.As much as I love cars, I realize that interests rarely pass down through the generations. Cars are nothing more than debtful transportation appliances for most folks. So here’s what my wife and I plan on doing for our daughter … car wise.

The first year of driving is usually the hardest time for teenagers. I remember my Mom barking out her ‘pearls of wisdom’ even before I turned the key. Drove me nuts. To help alleviate this ‘parent reflex’ I’ll probably have the two of us spend some time at a parking lot so that we both can get used to each other.

I’m not sure if I will teach other how to drive a stick off the bat. Some folks need confidence behind the wheel before they can begin mastering that art. I think two pedals and one steering wheel may be more than enough. If sticks are still widely available for cheap cars, I may teach her how to use one later on. But nothing’s guaranteed.

Then again, will she even get a license? The real crossroads will come when she graduates from high school. Will she then need a car for college? If she attends a ‘commuter school’ I may just give her something of her own at that point. I expect her to contribute some money to her car.

The balance is almost always the parents responsibility; especially since cheap cars aren’t common anymore. If she gives a little bit though, at least my daughter will have a sense of achievement and responsibility in owning the car. I would want her to enjoy the freedom to travel without feeling like the bank of M&D has been nothing more than a ‘parental credit card’ that gives her things.

By that time I will hopefully have taught her the basics of maintenance and car care. It won’t be rocket science. Just by teaching the basics, you can give a young person an amazing level of confidence and self-reliance. How to check and change oil. How to check and change coolant. Replacing air filters. Changing tires. Everything but the tires we can do at gas stations and parts stores.


That is if she doesn’t end up dumping all this on me, her brother and/or her boyfriend. Which is probably what will happen.

Her automotive future may be nothing more than a non-event. Most colleges may ban student cars from campus altogether. Gas may go to $8 a gallon. Who knows? She may decide that a life without cars may be a better one. All this future prognosticating by a person with the best of intentions may simply go to waste.

But barring all those little chickens coming to roost, I will try to teach my kid how to make her car a long-term keeper. Either that or something else. Maybe a bike. Maybe investing. The high school class of 2019 is far into the future. Isn’t it?

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • Duffman13 Duffman13 on Sep 20, 2011

    I go back to what went on when I was a teenager in FL. You could get a permit at 15 and needed to have it for no less than something like 6 months to test for your License at 16. It had an 11PM curfew at 16, 1AM at 17, and unlimited at 18. It gave my parents a de juris curfew for me at those ages, which they liked. I look forward to how I'll train my non-existent as of yet kids how to drive and i think it'll go something like this: -Car: compact or midsize with a smattering of airbags, and slightly hoonable. Going by today's standards, nothing over 200hp, probably a civic ex or mazda 3 equivalent. -Since I will always own a manual, and my wife an automatic, they'll be forced to learn both. 3-6 months on each, auto first for obvious reasons. Here's where i get a little crazy: -Basic mechanics. understand how the engine, suspension, brakes, transmission, electricals, and cooling system work on at least a cursory level. Good enough to not get bamboozled by a shady mechanic at least. -take part in 2-3 autocrosses. Probably in whatever my current hooning car is at the time, as well as whatever they end up driving. Nothing teaches you how to drive than dealing with performance at the limit.

  • Aneil Aneil on Jul 23, 2014

    Teenagers learning to drive is always harrowing, and its nerve wracking for their parents too if they will damage the cars or not! You always got to be careful with your kids on the road driving lessons in Liverpool area

  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
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