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The Basic Things Every Car Owner Should Know

woman driving car

Whether you’re 16 and driving your first car or a seasoned motorist, there are some things that every driver should know. Do I really need to change my oil when that light comes on? Why is my check engine light on? What do I do if I forget where I parked and can’t find my car ANYWHERE?  

Take a deep breath because we’ve got you covered. Here are the four basic things every car owner should know:

1 - Regular Oil Changes

Have you ever heard someone make a comparison to a “well-oiled machine”? Well, there’s a reason for that! Keeping up the oil in your car is crucial to helping it run smoothly.

That pesky change oil light on? Don’t put off your trip to the quick lube stop. Take your car in and be sure to ask for a window sticker so you remember. It will tell you when your car should be serviced next, providing a date and mileage number.

Cars should have their oil changed every three months or every 5,000 miles, whichever comes first.

2 - Know How to Stock the Glove Box

Contrary to popular belief, your glove box was not made to house receipts and empty straw wrappers.

Be sure to keep up-to-date vehicle registration paperwork and proof of insurance safe and sound in your glove box as well as your owner’s manual. You may need to reference your manual so it’s good to know that it’s where you need it.

In case of emergency, it is recommended keeping a flashlight (with extra batteries because you never know if the batteries are working), small first aid kit, and a car phone charger for those moments when you need something to help you out.

3 - Know How to Jumpstart the Car

One of the worst heart dropping moments a car owner can experience is trying to turn their car over and finding that the battery is dead. You envision the tow truck, the complexities of figuring out rides to and from work and school, and the potentially massive car repair bill. Before you go to that dark place, find a buddy and try jumping your car.

Get out the jumper cables and make sure both vehicles are turned off. Put the red clamp on the positive terminal of the dead battery and the red clamp on the positive terminal of the live battery. Repeat the process with the black clamp on the negative terminal on the dead battery to the live battery. Turn on the live car and wait a minute or two before you try to start the car with the dead battery.

Once the car is started, don’t turn it off again. Make sure you drive for at least 15 minutes to make sure that your car is charging the battery.

4 - Monitor Your Vehicle’s Health

Have you ever found yourself thinking “I hope that’s nothing” when your check engine light comes on? Have you ever hit a pothole and wondered if your tire was ok?

We want our cars to last as long as possible, but it can be difficult to justify a potentially expensive visit to the auto shop for something that can be put off another day, week, or month.

Investing in a car health monitor grants ease of mind, and makes it easy to see what needs immediate attention. No more trips to the mechanic just to diagnose the problems, a car health monitor can give you that guidance.

5 - Know and Love Your Tires

Tires are critical to your car. If you don’t have the right tires or if your tires aren’t in good shape, you’re not going anywhere.

You should pay attention to your tires. Using a tire sensor kit you can monitor your tires for the correct air pressure or notice when you have a leak. Maybe a nail or screw has lodged into your tire. Your tire sensor kit will notify you and you can take your tires in for repair or placement.

If you haven’t yet tried to change your tires, this is a good time to learn. You never know when you’re going to need to do it, so it’s better to be prepared. Make sure you know how to use your car jack and that you have the right tools in your car for these times.

These five basic things can help you build confidence that you know your car and can handle most common issues with it. While it’s best to have a trusted friend or mechanic show you how to do these things, you can also check out YouTube to find plenty of tutorials.

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