Even if your driving has been event-free for years, you’ll have an issue eventually. You’ll get a flat tire, your battery will die, or you’ll get stuck in the snow. If you’re a member of an auto club, you can always call for help. But face it, there are some things you should just know how to do.
Here are five of those things:
- Changing a tire: With the car on a level surface and turned off, set your parking brake, and put the transmission in park (or in gear, if it is a manual). Use a jack to raise the flat tire off the ground and a lug wrench to remove the lug nuts holding the wheel in place. Remember that you turn the wrench counterclockwise to remove the lug nuts and clockwise when you’re putting them back on.
- Jump-starting a car: Most jumper cables are color-coded: black for negative and red for positive. But the exact colors do not matter as long as you choose one color for both negative terminals and use the other color for both positive terminals. After connecting the cables, start the car with the working battery first, and have it running before you try to start your own car.
- Getting unstuck: If your tires are spinning, and you are not moving at all, stop and try to back your way out. If you get to a point where you cannot move forward or backward, find something solid and flat that you can stick under the tires for traction.
- Checking the oil: The engine oil dipstick should stick up from one side of the engine and be clearly labeled. Remove the dipstick, wipe the oil off, and then re-insert it. You can then pull it out again and see how far the oil extends up the dipstick.
- Checking tire pressure: For this, you’ll need a tire gauge, but many self-service air stations have a gauge on the hose. Unscrew the valve stem cap, press the gauge onto the valve stem, and check the reading. (If the tire pressure is very low, it may not register any pressure at all.)
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