We love maintaining our cars; they provide the transportation we need to live and work in our towns, cities and communities. Although the latest in technology has made vehicles safer, more efficient and advanced, regular maintenance is still key.  There may even be times when you’ll find yourself on the side of the road in need of a jump start or tire change. Knowing how to fix your minor car issues, and how to maintain your vehicles can keep you safe, and keep money in your pocket. We’ve taken a look at some of the most common questions asked by drivers and vehicle owners. Luckily, there are common car tips and how-to’s, as well as common car essentials, that are useful for all drivers.

How To Jump Start A Car

Life is always throwing curve-balls, and a dead-battery is a problem that most of us face at some point. In the event you find your car in need of a jump start, preparation is key.  It’s always a good idea to have quality jumper cables in your vehicle, as well as a good pair of gloves, for such a scenario.  If you are without jumper cables, roadside assistance such as Elephant’s roadside option, is just a call away.  But, if you do need a jump, the steps are fairly easy.

Steps to jump start a car

1.     Seek assistance from a friend, then prepare for a jump start.  Find a friend or good Samaritan to perform the jump start.  Position both vehicles so the engines are close to each other.  Turn off the ignition of both vehicles and engage the parking brakes.  Then pop your hoods.

2.     Attach the jumper cables.  Once the hoods are open, locate each vehicle’s battery.  On the battery terminals, remove plastic caps so that the nodes are clear.  Then place the red clamp of the cable on the positive terminal of the dead battery and the other red clamp on the positive terminal of your friend’s battery.  Next, place the black clamp on the negative terminal of your friend’s battery and the other black clamp on an unpainted metal surface of your car, not any part of the vehicle’s battery, fuel system or electrical parts.

3.     Start the engine, jump your car, then detach. Your friend should then start their engine, and after a few minutes, you will then start your car.  Once it’s running successfully, let it charge for five minutes.  After that, detach the jumper cables in reverse order, starting with the black clamp on the metal of your car and ending with the red clamp from your car.  Then, you will need to leave your vehicle running for at least twenty minutes.  This will be a temporary fix until you get to your next location, preferably an auto shop or your home.


Parallel Parking doesn’t have to intimidating

For most people, parallel parking creates a lot of stress and anxiety, but anyone can parallel park with practice.  To learn, a low-traffic road or even a parking lot with traffic cones may be ideal and less stressful than trying to park between two vehicles.  Back-up cameras also provide added visual assistance to get it right.  With the following steps, you should be able to parallel park on either side of a road.

Steps to parallel parking

  1. Identify your parking spot and turn on your signal. Once you find the right parking spot – it should be one and half times your vehicle length – you’ll want to alert other drivers you are parking in that spot with your turn signal.
  2. Pull alongside the car in front of the parking space and begin to turn. You’ll want to pull up next to the car you will park behind, but back up until the middle of your car lines up with the rear bumper of the other car.  Next, turn your steering wheel sharply in the direction of the curb until you are at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Turn your wheel in the other direction and slowly back into your space. Once you’ve hit that 45-degree angle, turn your wheels back in the opposite direction and carefully back your vehicle into the parking space until you are aligned with the cars at both ends, and within one foot of the curb.  Straighten your vehicle as necessary.

How to Check Your Tire Pressure

Knowing how to check and maintain your tire pressure is not only preventative and good for safety, but it also improves fuel efficiency.  The seasons of the year also play a role in maintaining the correct tire pressure.  Air pressure can decrease in cooler weather.

Steps to how to check your tire pressure

1.     Know your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure (PSI).  The recommended PSI for your vehicle can be found in your owner’s manual or on the inside door of the driver’s side.  For many cars, PSI between 30 – 35 is recommended.

2.     Check your tire pressure at an ideal time.  It’s preferable to check your tire pressure when the vehicle is cool, and the morning time may be best. You can purchase a pressure gauge yourself and do this at home, or go to a gas station with a solid, well-functioning air pump.

3.     Pump air until appropriate level of pressure. Remove the cap on your tire, insert air pump, and apply until you have the recommended PSI for your car.


How to Change a Tire

Changing a tire may seem daunting for some, but with the right preparation and instruction, you’ll know how to get it done.  In addition, knowing how to safely change a tire can prevent a bad situation from turning worse, and save time and money.

What tools or items are needed to change a tire

Your vehicle should always carry the equipment it will need to change a tire.  Be mindful that with new cars, not all will come with a spare tire, so this is something you should know about and prepare for beforehand.  But, to change a tire, you will need these essentials: a spare tire, vehicle jack, and tire iron.

Steps to changing the tire

1.     Find a safe spot, and take safety precautions.  Once you find a safe spot, like on the side of the road, and away from oncoming traffic, be visible and safe – turn on your hazard lights, apply your parking brake, and if possible, use wheel wedges.

2.     Get your spare tire and tools.  Whether attached underneath your vehicle or in the trunk, next you’ll need to get the tools you need as well as the spare tire.

3.     Raise your car and remove tire.  First, if you have a hubcap, you’ll need to remove it.  Then, using the tire iron, loosen the lug nuts.  Carefully place and operate the jack under your car frame, raising your vehicle with the jack to six inches off the ground.  Once that’s done, completely remove the lug nuts and remove the flat tire.

4.     Mount new tire and lower vehicle.  With the old tire removed, line up the new tire into the lug bolts, and screw on lug nuts by hand.  Lower your vehicle back down to the ground with the jack.  Then, completely tighten the lug nuts with the tire iron and put hubcap back on.

5.     Gather old tire and put away tools.  Once you’ve changed your tire, you’ll need to gather the old tire and tools back into your car and drive to your nearest auto shop or your home.


How To Check And Change Your Fluids

Checking, maintaining and changing the fluids in your car is instrumental to the life of your vehicle.  It keeps your car running smoothly, well-maintained and safe from breakdowns or being stranded.  It should be done routinely and in line with your owner’s manual recommendations.

Which fluids should I be checking regularly and where can they be purchased?

Many of the fluids for your car can be purchased at a retail outlet that supplies auto products, and all of your automotive fluid needs can be serviced by your auto mechanic.  Generally, these are the fluids that should be checked on a regular basis:

·       Air conditioning fluid

·       Brake fluid

·       Coolant

·       Engine oil

·       Power steering fluid

·       Transmission fluid

·       Windshield wiper fluid

Steps to check and change fluids

1.      Know the specifications for the fluids in your car.  You should consult your owner’s manual or auto mechanic to get the correct fluid types, appropriate levels and recommended maintenance times.

2.      Locate your fluid reservoirs and check the levels.  You’ll need to know where each fluid reservoir is located in your vehicle and the check the levels according to the levels indicated in the reservoirs.  For motor oil, you’ll need to use the oil dipstick to gauge the level.

3.      Top off fluids as necessary.  If you find out any one of your fluid levels are too low, top off the fluids with the appropriate oils or fluids.  For engine oil, if the dipstick is too low, you will need to add oil to recommended oil level, not above the oil level.  In addition to checking your oil regularly and filling if needed, your vehicle must have an oil change according to the instructions in the owner’s manual.  Nowadays, with new technology, oil changes can be done every 5,000 to 7,500 miles.


How to Change Your Engine Air Filter

A dirty engine air filter can result in ignition problems and lower gas mileage. The good news, is that changing your engine air filter is one of the easiest and cheapest routine maintenance items to tackle!

Steps to changing the air filter

1.     Pop the hood of your car and find the engine air filter housing.  It should be a black plastic box located at the top of your engine or on the side of it.

2.     Remove the old/current air filter and examine it/check it out.  “Remove the fasteners and the top of the air filter housing” to get the air filter.  Remove any dirt or debris “that has accumulated in the housing with a rag.”  Examine the filter to see if it needs to be replaced.  If there is dirt in it or if “dirt slips out when you touch” it, the air filter needs to be replaced.

3.     Place a new air filter in the box/housing.  The new engine air filter should placed with the rubber rim face up, and once that is complete, you will need to replace/secure the top of the housing/box and its fasteners.

Keeping your vehicle maintained can be tough, but these common car how-to’s can make a difference, along with the right coverage and options for roadside assistance. Knowing how to maintain your car can not just prolong the life of your vehicle, it can keep you and your passengers safe, and help you avoid costly repairs and services down the road. Get a quote today.

Article last updated on June 25th, 2023 at 7:18 pm

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