Would you know what to do if your car breaks down on the side of the road? Can you change a tire by yourself? Can you check your oil? These are basic things every car owner needs to know. This blog gives general procedures for performing these tasks, but detailed information for your particular vehicle can be found in your owner’s manual.

Changing a flat tire is a key skill all drivers should possess. All cars come with a spare tire in the event of a flat, and it is important to know how to access the spare and replace a flat. Your car will also come with a manual jack that is used to lift the tire off the ground in order to replace it. Locate the jack and spare and position it in the proper spot under the frame of the car. Raise the tire off the ground and loosen the lug nuts. Remove the tire and replace with the spare. Replace the lug nuts, lower the car until the tire is just touching the ground and cannot be turned by hand. Firmly tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern and lower the vehicle the rest of the way.

Checking and adjusting tire pressure – Proper tire pressure is essential in the ride quality and fuel economy of your vehicle. Each tire is fitted with a valve stem. Remove the valve stem cap and check the pressure with an appropriate gauge. If you do not own an air compressor, most gas stations have an air compressor specifically for adjusting tire pressure.

Checking your oil can save you from ending up with a sludge-filled or worse, a seized engine. All engines are fitted with a dipstick for checking the oil. Locate, remove and wipe off the oil from the dipstick. Examine the dipstick to determine where the proper oil level should show on the stick. Reinsert, remove again and check the level. Add oil as needed depending on the level shown. The best time to check your oil is typically first thing in the morning when the engine is cold and before any driving has taken place.

If your car battery were to die overnight, could you still make it to work in the morning? Jump starting a car is another essential skill a driver should possess. You will need two cars to accomplish this. Locate the battery in both cars and, while using proper jumper cables, connect the positive (usually red) terminals of the batteries together. Connect the negative (black) cable to the negative terminal of the good battery and a good engine or body ground on the dead vehicle. Start the engine of the good car. This charges the bad battery, and both cars can then be started. This may take a few moments depending on how low the dead battery was. Disconnect the cables in the opposite order that they were connected.

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