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majorrich's avatar

Did I wait too long to teach my son basic auto maintenance?

Asked by majorrich (14634points) July 9th, 2014

Yesterday, I taught my son how to change his own oil, air filter and wipers. He had never shown any interest in these things before but I figured he ought to know how to do such things. He is going to be a senior in college this fall and will be going who knows where for advanced degrees. I had done all these things on the fleet til now. Did I wait too long to show him these things? Should I have taught him when he got his own car instead of just doing it?

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18 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

It’s never too late. Whether or not it would have been better to do when he was younger is moot; you can’t go back in time.

One thing to let go of is whether he will do it in the future or have someone do it for him. After all, that’s why JiffyLube is in business. If he is paying for it, he gets to make his own decision.

Coloma's avatar

Maybe he is not going to be interested in doing his own car maintenance, anymore than a girl might have no interest in learning to cook. As long as he has a roadside assistance package and can afford to pay for his auto maintenance it doesn’t really matter. Not every guy is the old school car mechanic and carpenter/handyman type.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It is not too late. Just make sure he has all the tools. He will be willing to do anything if he is confident he has the equipment at his fingertips.

If he does the simple things himself he will be certain he is not paying for other services he does not need. (Monroe Muffler and Jiffy Lube were notorious for this. Get a Free oil change and a 50 point inspection – that invariably identifies 48 shortcomings.)

LuckyGuy's avatar

Take him to an Advance Auto Parts store and walk around. They have the best customer service and are very willing to help you. They will lend you tools, lend you an OBD II reader so you can read your car’s trouble codes and they’ll show you how to use it . They will change your battery and wipers, and test your alternator, all for free with purchase. And their prices are right where they should be.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It seems to me if the interest was there, he would have acquired the necessary skills with or without you. The fact that he hadn’t sought your advice in the past leaves you with no possible blame. Of course he can still learn now. In my hot rod phase, my mom was my apprentice and was really learning a lot. Then one Winter day, she walked into the kitchen and caught me in the middle of removing the valves from the heads. I had covered the formica table with a drop cloth, and was using the kitchen because it was bitter cold in the garage. Her arrival put an end to any warmth in the kitchen, and I was instructed that frostbite was preferable to the consequences involved in befouling her nest with greasy engine junk.

pleiades's avatar

You did well!

kritiper's avatar

You waited too long to teach him, yes, and he couldn’t possibly understand the importance of proper maintenance at this late date. (“Sure, Dad, I understand.” They say that to shut you up!) Kids don’t want to be preached to. Out of sight. out of mind. Like not wearing his seat belt. Did you teach him how to properly inflate his tires? What a cold tire is? Where to find the proper tire inflation pressures for his vehicle’s tires? Where the automatic transmission oil level should be on the stick and how far he has to drive to car to get the transmission hot enough to check the level? People who service cars don’t even know the proper ways to maintain vehicles! You taught him how to change the oil. Did you teach him how to properly dispose of that waste oil?

anniereborn's avatar

I wish someone had taught me this stuff….ever. Ah well, that’s what YouTube is for

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

If no cars have been damaged as a result of his not knowing this stuff, then there’s no harm other than the loss of your time in performing the maintenance for him. You might or might not consider this time well spent, in which case it’s not ‘lost’ but used.
If that’s the case then there’s no downside to his learning later rather than sooner, and therefore you didn’t wait too long.

JLeslie's avatar

Never too late. Back in the day we knew more about changing oil and other engine problems, because those cars broke down more. Don’t sweat it, he knows more than most of his peers now that you showed him. Now just make sure he knows to always pay off his credit cards in full at the end of the month and never to do anything against his better judgment. No chug a lugging anything (even water) to get into a fraternity or because his friends think it’s funny and don’t ever do anything that purposely harms another person either physically or emotionally no matter how minor.

dxs's avatar

I never learned how to do any auto maintenance. That’s what I would consider “too late”.

Paradox25's avatar

The biggest issue is the interest level. The younger a person is when they’re introduced to something the more likely it’ll be embedded in them when they get older. People usually form biases and have developed egos that increase when they age, so while it’s never too late, your son might not be as inclined to follow through with it. If he doesn’t do these things himself on at least a few occasions than he’ll likely forget what you had shown him anyways. The answer is it depends on your son.

canidmajor's avatar

I learned basic auto maintenance long after I moved out of my parents’ home. Neither of them had any interest, so with the help of some books and some friends I learned how. The very basics are not rocket science, just kind of tedious (albeit very useful).

If he has an interest, he’ll catch on very quickly.

majorrich's avatar

I did show him and we will take his old oil to the Autozone for recycling. I learned how to work on my own cars way back in the day because I had to in order to keep them running because I couldn’t afford to pay someone to fix them. As it turns out, I had kind of a knack for things mechanical. My dream for him is that he work on cars because he wants to, not because he has to.
We discussed the different types of oils and my (probably outdated) theories on Paraffin vs Petroleum based oil need to stay with one brand. We went with Synthetic oil. We will be doing some repairs on his mothers car and continued maintenance on my old beater through the summer. I sincerely hope he enjoys it. For me, I need this last bit of time with him before he flies from the nest.

CWMcCall's avatar

What you did for your son as you raised him enabled him to achieve advanced degrees and that is plenty to feel proud about and quite the accomplishment for any young man or woman. You also exposed him to something you are expert and passionate about and I am sure some day he will tell his kids how smart their grandpa was about all things mechanical.

hearkat's avatar

I was a single mother, I do not change my own oil, nor did anyone teach my son. He’s now 23 and works as a mechanic for a high-end import car dealership, where he started working 4 years ago as a valet. It’s not too late. Will your son continue to do it himself once he’s out of school and working? Maybe, maybe not. It doesn’t make much difference.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

@dxs You’re still alive, so I’d say: still not too late.

Paradox25's avatar

I’m not for confining this to gender/sex though. If a parent feels they need to teach their sons how to do these basic things they should be just as willing to teach their daughters car maintenance and basics. As a young boy I had learned to cook, bake, sew, yarn, clean, change diapers, etc.

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