Parenting : Take Pride In Your Ride

car maintenance, cleaning your car, car check-up

Image courtesy of samuiblue at

My sixteen year old son has been driving for about five months now. He’s been the primary driver of our car during that time. In fact, I can probably count on my fingers how many times I’ve driven the car in that time frame. Earlier this week I got in the car, looked around, and realized it was fairly obvious the car had not been cleaned the entire time my son has had his license. While there wasn’t any trash in the car, the dashboard was covered with a layer of dust, the floor had gravel and crumbs everywhere, and I couldn’t identify exactly what lined the cup holders in the back seat. I think it goes without saying that the smell wasn’t pleasant either.

It was time I taught my son a little about car maintenance.

Check The Oil

We started off by reviewing something he learned in driver’s education. We popped the hood, pulled the dipstick and checked the oil. I reminded him that he should do this often, perhaps once a week.

Kick The Tires

We then drove to a local convenience store that had a machine that we could program to the proper PSI level (found on a sticker inside the driver’s door). Once the hose is connected to the tire stem, it checks the tire pressure inflates or deflates appropriately. I warned my son that changes in temperature, especially as the seasons change, can affect the tire pressure.

The Vacuum

The next task was to play a game of “Can We Vacuum the Whole Car Interior in 4 Minutes” by putting 4 quarters into the convenience store vacuum cleaner. As my son attempted to vacuum the dirt and rocks from the car of the floor he asked me why we didn’t just use the Shop-Vac at home and save the change. After all, the vacuum at the convenience store barely had any suction. After plugging a few more quarters into the vacuum we were able to get the floor reasonably clean.

Interior Wipe Down

Once we got home, I filled a bucket with warm water and grabbed two rags. Together we wiped down every square inch of the car’s interior.

The Finishing Touch

Finally, it was time to tackle that smell. I had some Armor All air freshening cleaning wipes from a similar cleaning session for our van a few weeks ago. We went over the interior again, this time with the freshening wipes.

When we were done, we sat in the car for a minute and talked about taking pride in the vehicle he drives. He may not own it, but he is currently responsible for it. He gives rides to his friends, and the condition of the car he drives reflects on him. He nodded his head in agreement.

Hopefully it won’t be five months before the car gets cleaned again.

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • Keeping a car cleaned out is important and I think has a big difference on the overall pride that one feels about their car. My car is almost 10 years old, but earlier this week I washed the outside, cleaned all the windows on the inside, wiped down the surfaces with Armor All, vacuumed the seats and floor, and went through and threw away the few things that had gotten strewn around, and organized the rest. You’ll never mistake it for a brand new car at this stage, but it still looks pretty darn clean. One lesson that hopefully your son learns is that once it gets clean, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep it clean.

  • @MoneyBeagle – Your last sentence is exactly what I told him. The more often he does it, the less time it takes. Also – just as you’ve noted – if you do it consistently it will likely stay looking nicer longer. Sometimes ground in dirt stays exactly where it is….

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