If you own a car, you should be able to perform simple maintenance on it, or at least know how to. If you chose to pay someone to do the routine maintenance for convenience sake, you should still have a general idea about how your car operates and what you need to do to keep it working better than well.
#1 Operate Your Vehicle
You should know what all the buttons and levers and knobs and switches do in your vehicle. You may not know how to take apart your transmission or even how to change your oil, but you should be familiar with the basics. You should be able to answer basic questions such as make, model, and edition; what wheel-drive it is; what the safety features are; where your oil, transmission, and other fluids -such as power steering- are and how to check their levels; and what kind of gas fuels your car. It is your car, you should know it intimately to be a safe owner/operator.
#2 How to Change a Tire
Before you can be sure that you know how to change your car’s tire, you need to make sure that you have all the required parts. Your car should come equipped with a spare tire- I recommend upgrading to a 5th car tire instead of a donut- a jack, a lug wrench, and your owners manual. Always be sure to turn your hazard lights on before attempting to change your tire and never ever get underneath the car while it is on the jack. For complete instructions, see your owner’s manual for your vehicle.
#3 Check Tire Pressure
Underinflated or overinflated tires can be incredibly dangerous to drive on. Underinflated tires do not carry the weight of your car well and can lead to accidents. Overinflated tires put unnecessary pressure on your tires and can lead to blow-outs. Ideally, you should check your tire pressures every time you fill up with gas. You can choose to use the tire-pressure gauge connected to the air at gas stations, but a much cheaper option is to keep your own in your glovebox.
#4 How to Drive a Standard
Although less than three percent of American-made cars are standard transmission this year, many foreign cars are still made and sold with standard manual transmissions, such as the Mazda and Subaru. One day, it is bound to happen. You will find yourself in a situation where the vehicle you need to drive is not an automatic transmission. Don’t leave you and your friends in a bind, learn to drive a standard before it becomes a necessity.
#5 How to Parallel Park
It does not matter if you live in an area where parallel parking is common, you will need to parallel park at some point. If you attempt to without knowing how to, the results could be disastrous. At one point, you were proficient enough to get your driver’s license. Make sure you understand how to parallel park and give it a shot every once in awhile.
#6 How to Correct a Slide
The basic steps are the same, ease off the gas, don’t slam on the brakes, turn into the skid and attempt to correct without jerking. But every car and every driver behave differently. There are many factors at play during a skid. If you are driving a standard transmission vehicle, chose a higher gear to minimize wheel skid. If you are familiar and comfortable with your car and how it drives, you will be better equipped to correct a slide, safely.
#7 How to Jump Start
It happens to everyone at some point, your battery will die. Do not be left stranded, always have jumper cables in your car. It is critically important to know how to jump-start a vehicle BEFORE you attempt to do it. Never have a vehicle running when you connect the cables. Always keep the connecting clamps separate once you begin to connect them to a battery. Always connect the grounding clamp first. Once all cables are connected, have the jumper care start their engine. Let it run for a minute or two and then attempt to start the deadlined vehicle. If it does not start immediately, resist the urge to keep trying, you can flood the vehicle and burn up the host battery. Wait a few minutes and try again.
This is just a brief list of the bare minimum of what you should know before you hit the road. To be a great driver, you should also know all the driving skills and local laws that you were tested on to acquire your license. You should be familiar with driving etiquette and share the road. If you take care of your car, your car will take care of you and last for many years to come.