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5 Car lessons from my dad, who is also a mechanic

Elizabeth Mitchell is a freelance fashion and beauty writer living in Los Angeles. A graduate of New York University, she regularly contributes to The Fashion Spot, The Luxury Spot and authors the Star Style column for StyleBakery Teen. ...

mr. fix it

Women in general tend to get a bad rap for being clueless about cars, but thanks to their mechanic dads, these five lucky ladies definitely know a thing or two. Here's what they've learned over the years, and so can you!
dad and daughter in car shop
1

Consider the accessibility and cost of parts

"My dad always taught me to consider the accessibility and costs of parts before purchasing a car," says April T., 34. "Ask yourself if it's easy to find the parts you'll need for the car. Will it take weeks for a part to come in? If so, it's probably expensive. That's why he told me to never to buy a BMW! The maintenance is too complicated and costly."

2

Try the penny test to determine if you need
new tires

Wondering if it's about time for some new tires? Just take the penny test, advises Carrie Z., 35, whose dad clearly passed down this method.

"Flip a penny so that Lincoln's head is pointing south (down) and stick it into the groove of your tire tread. If the tread covers up some of Lincoln's head, you're good to go. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, though, the tread probably isn't legal, and you probably shouldn't be driving your car!"

3

Don't forget to tighten your fuel cap all the way

Another very vital lesson Carrie learned from her dad was to be sure to always tighten her fuel cap all the way (plus a couple of clicks) after filling up.

"A loose cap, or one that's not completely closed, will cause the air-to-fuel ratio to change and may trigger the 'check engine' light to come on erroneously," she warns.

4

Be sure to check
your oil often

"My dad taught me to check my oil every two to three days and to always get an oil change every 3,000 miles," says Brittany G., 26. "He also taught me how to change my own oil, saying, 'Just because you're a girl doesn't mean you need to be helpless. There's no reason you can't do everything yourself.' This then led me to learn how to repair and/or change out a flat tire!"

5

Don't drive your car into the ground

The most important thing Brittany says she's taken away from her mechanic dad is to not drive her car until the wheels fall off.

"He showed me how to maintain my car and realize the warning signs of a bigger issue that may arise, so I can catch it before it becomes a costly car emergency. Because of this, I have him to thank for the extra purses and shoes I'm able to afford instead of an expensive car repair!"

More car advice

Lease vs. own: Which is best for you?
Harnessing your car-buying power
Let's make a deal: Negotiating car prices online

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