Dads and Cars: A Love(ish) Story

kid cleaning car

In celebration of Father’s Day this Sunday (is your card in the mail yet?), we wanted to round up some great stories about dads and cars. A lot of us had our first impressions about cars formed courtesy of dear old Dad: Dads teach us to drive, or they reach around to swat at us hustle us to get going on that family road trip, or they instruct us on the finer points of auto detailing. If we’re lucky, they might even let us on their car insurance policy. So we surveyed strangers and folks in our office alike, and the stories we heard generally fell into one of three categories: The helpful, the heartwarming, or the flat-out hilarious.


The Helpful: Dad’s Auto Tips

Be careful in parking lots

(From Alexender Seinfeld in Baltimore.)

“My father wanted us to avoid accidents so he was very big on practical tips to avoid common mistakes. He said that many accidents happen in parking lots. He advised me and my brother always to look over your shoulder when backing up and not to rely solely on the mirrors. You’d be surprised how much a difference such a small, practical tip can make.”

Actually, just be careful everywhere

(This one is about my own pops!)

My dad bought me a 1998 Isuzu Rodeo on my sixteenth birthday. The agreement was that I’d pay half of my car insurance bill each month and all of my gas, so I got a job that summer as well. I’ll never forget the first ride around the block we took in the rodeo—or the label he had attached to the dash before ever giving me the car. Printed out on a label maker, it read simply “Little Old Lady.” It was his reminder to me to slow down, to take it easy. A few wrecks Years later, I’m still a pretty cautious driver, and it’s definitely because of my dad.

No matter how angry you are, stay cool

(From freelance writer Cynthia Fabian.)

“My brother-in-law, who is a dad, taught me the most about driving. He taught me when times are most frustrating, like being cut off, you have to stay cool. Instead of a curse word, he said to just say, “Drink Decaf!” and that small thing would make you forget how frustrated you are. Sometimes you may really want to let out a colloquialism, but you know in the end it will do more harm than good. Nobody ever knows what “drink decaf” means, so it’s safe.”


The Heartwarming: Dad’s Sweet Gesture

Just checking in

(From Jenny Deutschendorf, our office manager.)

“My dad, being the father of two daughters, was slightly over protective when it came to our vehicles. He would say he was “stopping by” and would be there for two hours plus, checking our oil, all the fluids in our cars, the air in the tires, checking our emergency kits, testing our flashlights, making sure our fix-a-flat can was full, leaving emergency numbers in our dash board and emergency phones under our seats (before cell phones), adding coats, blankets, hats, and gloves to the trunk during the winter, making sure the duplicate key was still attached to the undercarriage of the car, and making sure we had an orange safety cone in case we were stranded. You name it, my dad had it covered when it came to safety! When we moved away, he decided to get us AAA to keep his mind at peace and now makes sure we are renewing it every year. :) I love my Dad!”


The Hilarious: Dad’s Stories + Auto Mischief

Don’t Tell Your Mother

(From Jacob Unger, licensed Zebra insurance agent)

“I will always remember the first time I got behind the wheel—I was about 14 years old. We were way out in the country somewhere with cornfields on both sides of the road up in Ohio when my dad pulled over and told me to switch him seats, because he wanted me to try to drive. I was so nervous and I was hugging the shoulder the whole time—I was so afraid of crossing over the middle divider. I was driving a 1985 Ford pickup truck. I drove about 3 miles and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. All he said when we were done was “don’t tell your mother I let you drive.”

Thrifty Pop

(From Christina DePuy, our carrier relations manager)

“When my dad was just 13 he bought a black 1936 Ford V8 Flathead for $18 from his friend. He paid for it with all the change in his piggy bank and even had to borrow a little from his brother’s to make up the rest! He carried the payment to his friend in a sock and the kept the car there to hide it from his parents. The car had a hole in the radiator, no radio and no driver’s seat. He had to sit on a box and stop every so often to put more water in so it wouldn’t over heat! Despite living in a small, hill country town, his parents never found out.”

Fill ‘Er Up

(From Ryan Floyd, software developer)

“My dad always told us that our car runs just as well when gas is above 1/2 as it did below 1/2. He tried to teach us that when the fuel gauge got to 1/2, we should fill it up—he he had this fear of being stranded without gas (which I think was an artifact from the 1970s gas shortage). So my sister and I tested him about once every three months. One of us would run our car’s gas tank below the empty indicator, then tell our dad something doesn’t sound right with the engine (or exhaust, or A/C, or window, didn’t really matter). He’d take the car for a spin, and be so afraid he’d be stranded he filled it up with gas. Worked every time. #spoiled”

  • Joshua Dziabiak

    These are fantastic. I love Ryan’s tip for getting a free tank of gas!

  • Manijeh Noori

    Dads are the best! Love that Jenny’s dad even put blankets in the trunk! On top of it!