On this Father's Day Weekend, we'd like to celebrate the things fathers should teach their kids about cars — even the stuff they don't want to know. Thanks, Dad, and yes, we did flush the coolant.
Click through each thumbnail to see what all dads should teach their kids about cars. If you'd like to view this gallery on a single page, click here.
How to Haggle
The car dealership is the domain of a dad. Like a panther, he prowls the black asphalt lot hunting his prey — not for a car, mind you, he's already got that picked out. No, he's looking for the salesman he can bend over his knee and spank a good deal out of. Dads instinctively know how to get the best possible price on a car. It comes with the territory, and though he'll never be able to impart all of his skills unto his brood, he can at least give them pointers.
The Difference Between a Spark Plug and a Serpentine Belt
It's important for every car-driving adult to have a basic understanding of the mechanical bits that make up their machine. Dads play an integral part in passing on an understanding of everything greasy and made of metal, and it's their duty to start with the car. Spark plugs, air cleaners, transmissions, heads, pistons, valves, bearings, camshafts, tire pressure, and door hinges; cars are a great teaching tool. Plus, little hands can fit in tight places.
Proper Navigation Techniques
Satellite navigation systems and cell phones may be usurping this vital skill, but it's still dad's job to teach the kids how to get from A to B in the event of a solar flare. He's got a compass built into his nose and the instincts of a migrating Canada goose. Follow his lead.
How to Change a Tire
The most basic of emergency roadside repairs, the tire change is where almost any dad can shine. If he's well practiced, he can swap a wheel and get the car back on the road in five minutes flat. Calling AAA is for suckers, and dad knows it. It's an easy fix, and if carried out with proper supervision, it can be pretty safe — all of which means that letting a kid go it alone and change a tire him- (or her-) self is possible. Admit it: When you're eight years old, that's a pretty awesome feat.
The Value of Proper Maintenance
Owning a car doesn't just mean driving it to and fro. It means keeping it healthy by keeping up with regular scheduled maintenance. Dads know putting it off only causes more problems down the line, so like all those before him, he becomes a maintenance ninja. Oil changes, differential lube, grease zerks, filter changes, spark plugs and belt changes? He does it all, and he does it like it's the law. Even if cars are becoming more appliancelike and thus going to the repairman as a matter of course, kids should at least know the ins and outs of basic maintenance.
The Art of Parallel Parking
We were shocked to discover recently that some states have eliminated parallel parking from their licensing tests. A travesty. Driving is a piece of cake if your 16-year-old mind can keep from being distracted, but parallel parking separates the ready from the willing. We're not saying moms can't teach kids this skill, but dads have it down to a science: pull up parallel and close to the car at the front of the space. Put the vehicle in reverse. Once past the center of the wheelbase, turn the wheel to aim the center of the car at the back curbside corner of the space. Once the front corner of the vehicle clears the back corner of the front car, turn sharply and back to the rear of the space. Put the car in drive and crank the wheel opposite, then adjust to a clean finish... dad style.
Knowing When to Hoon
In many families, it's dad's job to lay down the law. When the kids won't pay attention to mom, it's up to dad to enforce the rules. The same can be said on the road, but every rule was made to be broken, and dads were once kids themselves. It's a dad's prerogative to chuck the rules aside every so often and teach the kids how to have some good, dirty, responsible fun. A father walking his son through his first burnout is a bonding experience no boy-scout camp could ever offer. Even though the kids would never expect it, every dad knows the best spots to do a donut. These are the kinds of things dads and kids keep on the down-low because really, mom doesn't need to know.
The Difference Between Want and Need
A father's job is that of protector, provider, and teacher. He guides his children as best he can through a goofy world full of weirdos, and he tries to give them the best advice he can. Part of that includes teaching children to balance want and need. Want drives teenagers to make poor purchasing decisions and buy old German sports cars that'll put them in the poor house with repairs. Need puts you in college with a Volvo wagon because it makes moving all your junk easier. Knowing the time to buy smart versus dumb is what dads make look easy.
The Financial Side
So you want a red Corvette as your first car? Even if it's an old beater, good luck paying for insurance. Dads are good at talking some sense into kids and getting them to look at the bigger picture. Sure, that old Camaro Z/28 is cheap and goes fast, but how many jobs are you going to need to pay for gas, tires, oil, and insurance? Here's your Volvo wagon.
What's Cool and What's Cruel
One of the most important things dads can teach kids is how to not look like an idiot. Dads have been around the block, they've seen some shit, they know the score. They also know that stick-on fender vents and neon green racing stripes make you look like a moron. Dads are there to carefully mold you into a proper gearhead — one that respects the past and looks for ways to build upon it in the future.