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Last week, I admitted to being totally ignorant about financial matters when I was much younger. This week, let me tell you how stupid I was where my poor car was concerned. I freely admit I wasn’t too smart when I got out of high school. My grades made me appear to be, but the real world proved otherwise.

My first car was an iron tank without power steering or power brakes. (I’m not mentioning the make or model because it sometimes comes up as a security question. Just go with me here.) Nothing on it was power except for the motor. It ran good on those bald tires it had when I got it.

All I knew about cars was you put gas in them, and you go. That was easy. I did it a lot with my AM radio blaring rock music (it was the 70s, so think Eagles and Pure Prairie League). I put an 8-track tape player in it at the very end of the 8-track era. No wonder the player was so cheap! My brother mounted it in the glove box because that’s where the wires were. I thought I was hot stuff.

My first indication that my car needed more than gas was on a trip up to the ski area. Those bald tires traveled thousands of miles spinning on the ice and snow. We slipped and slid in every foot of road. I’d have turned around and gone home, but the lady with me had a brand-new pair of skis waiting for her in the office and she to pick them up that day or lose them. Millions of cars passed us honking and yelling at us to get out of the way. She urged me to keep going. Three or four hours later, we finally made it up the hill to the ski area. She went and got her new skis, and then we went home. I got new rear tires the next week and didn’t have that problem again.

The second indication that I need to put more than gas in was the day I about to take a long trip in my car. My dad told me to take it by the service station to check the oil. When the man brought the dip stick to my window, he said, “There’s no oil showing.” The dip stick was dry. I told him to “fill ‘er up.” He dumped several quarts of oil in it and made sure it registered on the dip stick. Off I went down the highway. Good thing I stopped.

As with financial literacy, parents need to teach their children the basics on how to take care of their vehicles. They need to know how to check the oil, check tire pressure, change air filters, check fluid levels, check tire tread and otherwise care for them and minimize repairs. They need to know when it’s time to take it in for oil changes and repairs. Also include how to tell whether they need new tires and how to put air in if the pressure is down. While you’re at it, discuss all the various warning lights that might pop up while they’re driving.

Hubby taught me how to change a tire, a skill that came in handy several times. I had a flat on his truck a couple of times when he wasn’t with me. I changed it with no problem and took the tire to be repaired. Once I did it with an infant in the cab. Today, wheels have nuts that lock and take special keys to get off. A lot of them are powered on with too much torque which makes them hard to get off. Anyone who drives a car should know how to put the donut on it so they can save themselves if the need arises, or at minimum, a membership in AAA for towing.

There are things in life children can’t absorb from watching videos or from cell phones. They have to be taught hands-on. Caring for a vehicle is one of them. Take the time and teach your children, wife, nephews, nieces, neighbor kids, and others how to take care of their vehicles. They’ll thank you for it someday.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor your father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth. Ephesians 6:1-3

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