When Should Your Teen Take A Driver Prep Course?

In most states, before you can go to driver’s ed you need to get your learners permit. But in a lot of states, like Maryland, the learners permit test can be really hard. The Maryland driving handbook is over 100 pages long and sometimes it can be hard to retain that information even if you take a few months to study it.

Before your teen gets in the car or even takes the test you may want to look into Driver Prep classes. These are very different than driver’s ed and are sometimes free for parents. They really help your teen get a leg up on the learners permit test and become safer drivers before getting into the car.

This course breaks up the driver manual into easy to learn and easy to focus parts. Most will just focus on the most important points and leave the fluff aside. While you shouldn’t ignore anything in the drivers manual, you shouldn’t have to study every word either.

In addition, these courses also emphasize practice exams. Lots of them with lots of questions.

The tests resemble the actual exam you’ll take at your local Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) office. All feature multiple choice questions based on material found in your state’s driver license handbook.

Topics include:

  • Identifying traffic signals and road signs.
  • Identifying road lines.
  • Driving at night.
  • The dangers of drinking and driving.
  • Hand signals.
  • Actions to take when emergency vehicles approach.
  • Turning at intersections.

All the tests include explanations to both correct and incorrect answers, giving you a comprehensive understanding of the topic matter.

Unlike a drivers ed class, a drivers prep course is not required for obtaining a learner’s permit and/or driver’s license. These courses are strictly voluntary and come highly recommended for prospective teen drivers.


Extensive List To Make Your Road Trip Safer and Fun

I talk a lot about road trips on the blog. I guess it is because I take a lot of them when the weather starts to turn warm. Now that my girls are teens it is so much easier to just hop in the car and hit the road. I have also had a couple of lists for road trips but thanks to you, my readers I have another list for you! Thank you so much for sharing your tips with me!

  • Make sure your vehicle is in sound working order – a cracked timing belt could be the difference between a great road trip and a hellish nightmare. Have your vehicle inspected before pulling out of the driveway; Or, do it yourself if mechanically inclined. Check the lights, directionals, wiper blades, and fluid levels and closely inspect the belts and hoses for wear and tear.
  • Check that you have a fully intact car jack. A flat tire is not the time to discover you have a car jack but no lug wrench.
  • Carefully examine the spare tire, ensuring that it’s fully inflated and the treads are in good condition.
  • Organize an emergency kit stocked with: bottled water, first aid items (band aids, gauze pads, sterile pads), rain jacket, blanket, lightsticks or flashlight, pocket knife, and one or two energy bars. Pack only essentials. The more compact, the easier it is to store.
  • Check that your mobile phone is in sound working order. Also, be aware if your provider charges roaming fees. If roaming fees are a concern, consider using a phone card.
  • Carry either a road atlas or a GPS device. If you know your route, check ahead for possible construction delays. Department of Transportation websites are great sources for road information, providing construction updates, weather forecasts and sometimes live webcams.
  • Peace of mind is a good thing to have on the road. Subscribe to a car club that offers roadside assistance. If your vehicle breaks down 700 miles from home, it’s comforting to have access to a list of trusted mechanics and towing companies.
  • Download road apps. GasBuddy, for example, directs you to the cheapest gas prices along your route.
  • If you intend on camping, call ahead and inquire about reservations. This is especially important if you’re traveling during holiday weekends.
  • Anticipate rush hour traffic when traveling through major cities. Either alter your route or change your timing so as to drive through during late morning or early afternoon. Especially in LA. Rush hour is an absolute nightmare!
  • Make sure you’re carrying all important driving documents: proof of car insurance, vehicle registration. and driver’s license.
  • Be aware of state texting and cell phone laws. Maryland, for example, has a strict no texting, no cell phone use while driving. I know people that have gotten some hefty fines for breaking this law!
  • Make sure all traffic tickets are paid. The cleaner the driving record the better for you if stopped. If you have too many you may be arrested and have your car impounded. That would definitely not be fun!

How To Stay Safe When Driving Abroad

When you think of traveling abroad you don’t think about driving. Most places have amazing public transportation; especially the tourist spots. But sometimes when you travel you may need to do it for an extended period of time and that may mean you need a car. I am not saying you need to take your car with you but you may have to rent one while there.

Traveling in a foreign country is a lot different than traveling in the US. There are different laws and roads. Unfortunately, sometimes you being a foreign driver is a great way for someone to take advantage. I have put together a list of ways to stay safe when driving abroad!

Obtain an International Driving Permit.

This document is recognized by 174 countries and translates your drivers’ license information into 10 languages. If you’re pulled over or involved in a car accident, it can help smooth potential language barriers. Plus, an IDP duals as internationally recognized photo identification. Along with this thought, only obtain IDPs from authorized government agencies.

Study the driving laws of the country you are visiting

This will help avoid drawing attention to yourself for all the wrong reasons, exposing yourself to potential scam artists. Plus it may keep you from having very hefty fines or worse, jail time for not obeying the laws.

Never pull over for anyone, even if they are trying to alert you to car trouble.

This is a huge scam in some countries. They try to make it seem like you are having car trouble or maybe they need help. After they pull you over, they could rob you or worse. Stay in your vehicle and keep driving to a safe location.

Be aware of shady rental car dealers.

Opt for legitimate agencies over big savings. Take pictures of the vehicle, from all angles, before exiting the rental car lot. Then do the same when you return the car. This will protect you from being charged for false damages. Do not go for the upgrades, etc. They will try to upsell you to make more money.

Self-park when you can.

You have to be extra careful of valet scams. There are incidents where valets were fake and stole cars. Another huge scam is hotels telling you that the only parking available is in their lot for an astronomical price. The next day you will most likely find out there is public parking close for a 1/4 of what you paid. Always check everything before accepting valet parking.

With this tips you will find that driving abroad can be enjoyable and fun! Just like driving in the US it just takes care and awareness to stay safe. Enjoy your trip!

More Tips On How To Extend Your Car’s Life

Buying a new or used car is a big decision for most people. You try them out, weigh all the options, and in the end, you choose the perfect car for you. There is more to owning a car than driving it off the lot. What is the best way to keep it looking new or at the very least extend its life? Well, I have more tips for you and hopefully with a whole lot of love and care your car will last a long time!

Read the car manual

Most drivers never pull it out of the glove compartment, unless needed on where to find car jack. The manual provides vital maintenance information, including when to schedule important fluid changes.

Change the oil every 3000-5000 miles

The oil is your vehicle’s life’s blood. Keeping it clean, free from dirt and grime, extends the life of the engine.

Rotate your tires every 6000 to 7500 miles

This prevents uneven tread wear and extends the life of the tires.Keep the tires properly inflated to the tire’s recommended air pressure. Underinflation causes tread wear and reduces the vehicle’s gas mileage.

Park in garage or under a tree for shade

Extended UV sunlight can cause the dashboard to crack and fade interior seating. If you don’t have access to shade, use a sunshield over the windshield when parked.

Flush the radiator every 2 years

This helps remove dirt and rust particles, extending the life of the engine and radiator.

Wash the vehicle regularly

If you don’t rusting can occur, especially along doors and on the undercarriage, diminishing the vehicle’s value.

Change the spark plugs

Old spark plugs can hamper the engine’s performance, causing slow acceleration and poor gas mileage.

With these tips your car will last a long time!


Getting A Car Loan This Spring

Chances are if you are in the market to get a new car ( or used one) and need a loan you are feeling overwhelmed. That’s okay. Getting financed is a confusing and scary experience. Especially if you have never bought a new home, etc. But there are tips that can help you be prepared and think about what you want to do.

Choose where you want to finance: Do you want to go through your local dealer or through your bank. There are pros and cons to each, but starting out at your dealership is a great start. they will often provide you with a great rate, and also are happy to work with you even if you have no or bad credit.

Check your credit: You should be checking your credit periodically anyway but if you are like most people (raises hand) you aren’t. Now is a great time to check your credit. Your credit score will play a key role in the rate you’ll pay for your loan. A high credit score can help you get a low car loan rate, which in turn saves you money on interest.

Pick Your Payment: Car loans typically come in 3-, 4-, 5- and 6-year terms. The longer the term of the loan, the lower the monthly payment. But a longer car loan also means you are likely to be “upside down” for a longer period of time. To be upside down (or “underwater”) on a loan means you owe more than the vehicle is worth. Also don’t forget to factor in your insurance, maintenance, and gas costs.

Get Pre-Approved: If you qualify for a loan, you’ll get a “pre-approval” that will be good for a certain period of time and up to a certain amount of money. It’s sort of like having a blank check to buy your vehicle. You can always spend less than the amount for which you are pre-approved, but you can’t spend more, unless you want to make up the difference in cash or by trading in your current vehicle. If you do buy a vehicle for less than the amount for which you have been pre-approved you won’t get the difference back in cash; you’ll just get a smaller loan.

Choose your vehicle: Yes, you read right. The steps above should be done before even choosing a vehicle. Especially the pre-approval. If you are pre-approved you don’t have to worry about negotiating financing, just negotiating an amazing price for your chosen vehicle.

After doing all those steps all that is left is your paperwork and paying for your loan. Make sure to make your payments on time. Being late on payments ( even a few days) can hinder financing for other big purchases.