P-Plater Under The Bonnet

P Plater Under The Bonnet

Most of my work these days revolves around running my driving event business for vehicle manufacturers like Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche. You may have heard of these sorts of days or perhaps have even been to one yourself. They’re a huge amount of fun as you get to drive the very latest models in a controlled environment (like a racetrack) as well as getting some driving tuition from professional race drivers.

Now, as cool as those days are to run, you may be surprised to hear that the days I enjoy running the most are the ones where we are teaching young drivers.

They’re enjoyable because, for a start, young drivers are easier to teach than old drivers as we don’t have to try and “unlearn” decades of bad habits. But more importantly, I really love the fact that we are contributing more to road safety when we’re teaching the next generation.

A big part of what we do on those “P-Plater” days is filling in the gaps in the knowledge they have –Things like how to do a full emergency stop from freeway speeds; how to swerve around a dangerous situation and even how to control a car that is skidding. Some real life important driving skills!

But there are a couple of other things I believe should also be taught namely, first aid and vehicle maintenance.

I think the benefit of teaching every driver on the road first aid is obvious, but I think the benefit of learning basic vehicle maintenance is just as important.

Simply put, if the car you are driving isn’t safe or performing at the best of its capabilities, it doesn’t matter how good a driver you are, you’re never going to make up for those shortcomings. Knowing how to identify problems with tyres and brakes and then learning some maintenance strategies to keep on top of them is a good start, but just as important and often overlooked, is understanding and maintaining the car’s electrical system.

As you would be aware, cars these days rely heavily on their computerised safety systems. Electronic stability management (ESC) has been mandatory in Australia since 2012 and Automated Emergency braking (AEB) will be mandatory next year (2023). Without a healthy electrical system in your car, these systems are at risk of not operating in the way they should. And in addition to the safety systems, the importance of seemingly basic things like lights and indicators can’t be overstated. If other road users can’t see you, you’re at a significantly greater risk.

This is an even greater issue when you consider that most first cars for P-platers tend to be older as parents have a limited budget and therefore look for cars on websites such as Carsales.com.au. Knowing the maintenance history of these cars can often be difficult which gives the twin problems of (a) it being a physically older car and therefore naturally having its electrical components break down over time, and (b) the fact that it has had a longer amount of time for its maintenance schedule to slip/be missed or to be carried out by less than qualified people. Needless to say, having a car with an unknown maintenance history can have dramatic consequences to the safety systems onboard and that simply isn’t worth risking your life over!

An interesting fact that over 50% off all vehicle breakdowns are related to the starting battery!

This is where Battery World’s brilliant car battery check comes in. It’s easy, fast and best of all – it’s FREE!

As a professional driving instructor, a regular battery and electrical check is a habit I would certainly like to see all P-Platers take up… So, mums and dads, the best present to accompany your child’s first car is a trip to your nearest Battery World to avoid that imminent flat battery, especially on a second or third hand car. It’s not something that’s easily disclosed in the sale agreement, so a FREE battery check upon taking over the keys can prevent any stressful ‘side of the road’ dilemmas for our young drivers who, let’s be honest, have enough to concentrate on in the early driving years,

- Steve Pizzati
Auto Expert and Battery World Advisor