6 Things Every Car Owner Should Know

Here are some easy maintenance tips that every driver should know how to do.

There are some repairs you will definitely have to go to the mechanic for, but do you really want to pay money for the pros to do every little thing? Here are some things that every driver should know how to do, if for no other reason than to save money on auto repair from Vancouver to Miami.


The first thing every car owner should know is how to change a tire. Secure the tires with chocks at the opposite end of the car that is going to be raised to keep it from rolling, and put the new tire close to where you will be working. Pry off the wheel cover with a flat-head screwdriver, and then loosen—but don’t remove—the lug nuts. Place the jack so it will press up on the frame of the car and raise the car just until the tire is off the ground about an inch. Remove the lug nuts by hand, remove the flat tire, and set it aside while you install the new tire. Replace the lug nuts and tighten by hand. Lower the car slowly back onto the ground and then use the wrench to tighten the lug nuts. Replace your wheel cover and you are good to go.


It is a good idea to have—and know how to use—a tire repair kit so that you aren’t stranded on the side of the road. But it is also good to know that many major tire shops will repair a tire for free, even if you bought your tires elsewhere.


Check the owner’s manual for your car and be sure you know how to check the levels of the oil, transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid, antifreeze/coolant, and power steering fluid, and where to refill them if needed.  


If the battery in your car is dead, you will have to jump-start it. It is a good idea to have your own set of jumper cables—if you don’t you’ll have to not only find a good Samaritan to not only help you out, but who also has cables. Put both cars into park or neutral, and shut off the ignition. Connect the red, positive, cable to the positive post on your battery, and then connect the other red cable to the positive post of the Samaritan’s car. Next, connect the negative, black, cable to the negative post on the Samaritan’s battery, then clip the other negative cable to an unpainted metal surface of your car, like the metal struts that hold the hood open. Now you are ready to start your car. If it still doesn’t start, have the Samaritan run their car for a few minutes then try again. If your car still will not start, your battery is probably beyond help and you’ll just have to buy a new one.


All you need to do to change your battery is remove the negative terminal, and then the positive—doing it in the opposite order can cause damage.  After you have removed the terminals, undo any tie downs holding the battery in place and pull it out. It is as simple as that. To install your new battery all you have to do is reverse the order of the steps. Make sure everything is tightened to keep a good connection going. Old batteries must be taken to an auto shop or recycling center that specializes in battery disposal, not just thrown in the trash. There are harmful chemicals that need to be taken care of properly.


Changing your own oil may sound daunting, but it really is simple. Just put a big bowl or bucket underneath the drain plug, and then unscrew the oil filler cap, the oil filter, and the drain plug. After all the oil has been drained, screw back on the cap, filter, and plug, and you are ready to fill your car with brand new oil. It is important to take care of the old oil properly—down the drain or in the trash is not an option. You need to take it to an auto parts store and have it recycled.


Some lube shops try to upsell you into getting new wiper blades, saying that installation is free. It sounds like a good deal, but not when you can get the same blades for cheaper elsewhere and only takes seconds to replace, it’s not actually a deal at all. All you have to do is undo a hook, take the old blade off, put the new blade on, and then redo the hook.  




While you will have to go to auto repair shops like Minit-tune or Les Schwab for some things, by knowing how to do the simpler stuff yourself, you can not only save money, but also be much more self-sufficient and confident on the road.

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