8 Things All Car Owners Should Know How To Do (No Excuses!)

Posted by at 10 October 2017, at 23 : 15 PM

8 Things All Car Owners Should Know How To Do (No Excuses!)

Driving is a learned behaviour. No one can just step into a car and make it go forward; it’s a complex learning process, as we develop our ability to understand the rules of the road, how our cars work, and how to get the most from our driving experience.

Or… that’s how it should be, anyway. The truth is, many of us don’t quite develop the understanding we should. It’s more a case of getting our drivers license and then we hit the road, with relatively little understanding of how our car works or the fact that the learning doesn’t stop just because we passed a test.

This attitude might seem like the easiest choice, because there’s always someone you can turn to. If you get a puncture, you can call your breakdown. Need to monitor your engine? You’ve got a mechanic for that, and so on and so forth. The one downside of relying on others to know how to keep your car on the road is that it’s incredibly expensive; you could save yourself a fortune by picking up some of that information for yourself.

It’s not just car maintenance where you might be lacking, either. There are driving skills, tactics, and realities that all drivers should take the time to familiarize themselves with. So rather than driving on auto-pilot and relying on the knowledge of others to get by, here’s a list of eight things that all drivers should know how to do — why not see which of these you could do with topping up your knowledge on?

#1 – Change A Tire

Changing a tire isn’t the easiest task in the world, but it’s also fairly simple to master if you have the right tools. Speaking of, you’re going to want to ensure you’ve always got the following in your car trunk, along with your spare tire:

* A jack
* A lug wrench

When you have these items, you’re going to need to know how to use them. The first time you change a tire, ideally, you want to have a certified mechanic check over your work to ensure that you’ve done everything as you should. Badly-fitted tires can be dangerous, so you need to know any problems that you might have inadvertently fallen foul of. Ask someone qualified to check over your tire change and then you can be confident you can do it again in future.

#2 – Check and Refill The Engine Oil

Cars need oil to work safely — there’s no getting around that. If the oil light pops on in your car, then, you’re going to need to know how to deal with it. You might be miles away from the nearest auto-shop, so familiarize yourself with the process of adding engine oil.

This isn’t difficult; it’s such an important task of car maintenance, car manufacturers have made it easy to find. Under the hood, you’re looking for a section with the recognisable oil symbol that also appears on your dashboard. The internal setup of your engine will look something like this, though it will vary dependant on the model of car you have:

8 Things All Car Owners Should Know How To Do (No Excuses!)

The red circle indicates the engine oil reservoir; this is where you need to pour any oil you’re using to top up the engine level.

Furthermore, there are two more areas that are circled in this image.

The green circle is the engine oil dipstick. If you want to avoid a scenario where your oil light is flashing on your dashboard, then, you’re going to want to check your oil regularly. This really is very easy. Unscrew the cap, remove the dipstick, and clean it so you can see the markings on the stick. Then, insert it back into the well, and remove it once more. This allows you to see how far up the dipstick the engine oil reaches; if it’s too low, you’re going to want to top it up (by transferring oil into the red circle reservoir).

In yellow is the transmission dipstick. This allows you to check the transmission fluid level. If you drive an automatic vehicle, you’re going to want to check the transmission regularly. If you notice that the car is hesitating or making too much noise between transmission shifts, then, checking the fluid should be your first port of call for problem solving.

Many drivers assume that all of these issues will be dealt with by mechanics, on regular services, or just don’t need checking all that often. Modern cars don’t burn through oil or transmission fluid, and it’s perfectly possible you will own a car for years and never need to DIY top up or even check the oil. However, it’s better for the health of your car if you do check the oil on a regular basis. Running low on oil — or worse yet, running out entirely — can destroy your engine like nothing else.

#3 – Reverse Park

Reverse parking is by far the most efficient way of parking in a busy lot. It means you don’t have to worry about having to do an 11-point turn just to get out of a tight bay, nor do you have to squeeze between parked vehicles to get into your car (well, not quite as much anyway, compared to if you park front-first!).

So why do so many people resist reverse parking? The answer is fairly simple; a lack of confidence in being able to do it. Reversing into a bay isn’t the easiest of driving manoeuvres, but it’s far from the most complicated. Practice for awhile in an empty parking lot to build your confidence; you’ll be glad of the practice when you’re next in a busy, crowded lot.

#4 – Control A Skid

Learning to control a skid is a fundamental skill for any driver. Skidding can happen at any time; it can happen if your tires have worn down (more on that shortly), when it’s wet, when it’s snowing, or when the road surface is unstable. Drivers have a tendency to panic when their car skids, which is why you need to spend time learning how to control a skid, so you can override that initial reaction that tells you to hit the brakes. Braking during a skid is just about the worst way that you can react to a skid, so learning to counter this natural impulse is imperative.

#5 – Know When You’re Not Fit To Drive

8 Things All Car Owners Should Know How To Do (No Excuses!)

All drivers should be able to understand why they’re in no condition to drive. Potential impairments include:

* Alcohol consumption over the limit
* Tiredness
* Distraction
* Or just outright being in a bad mood; driving while angry is always a very bad idea

Experienced, intelligent drivers will know when they need to stay well away from the control of a car. If you insist on driving even when you’re not fit to, you’re not just putting your own life in peril, you’re endangering other road users as well.

#6 – Check and Rectify Issues With Tires

As mentioned above, the health of your tires is an aspect of car maintenance that you need to keep a very firm eye on. It’s important to learn how to measure your tire tread, as well as checking all of your tires for any signs of slow punctures. If possible, you want to get into the habit of checking over your tires on a monthly basis. The tires are the main point of contact between you and the road, so you’re going to want to be sure they’re in the best condition imaginable.

#7 – How To Drive In Adverse Weather Conditions

Stopping distances are greatly impacted by the weather conditions you experience while driving. If the road is wet or icy, then, you’re going to need longer to bring your car to a halt.

It’s one thing to know this in practice, but do you adapt your driving to allow for this? Or do you carry on regardless, even if it’s raining? The vast majority of drivers don’t observe a proper distance between other cars; it’s such a severe issue that some authorities paint signs on the road to indicate the gap there should be between you and the car in front.

The advice about how to drive in adverse weather conditions exists for a reason; these are changes to your driving style that you need to make. You will be safer, as will the other drivers on the road, if you always alter the way you drive when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

#8 – Have An Emergency Kit

An emergency kit should be stored in the back of your car, for use if you find yourself compromised while out on the road. As a general rule, it should include:

* A flashlight
* A blanket
* Water
* Non-perishable food supplies (such as protein bars)
* A cheap, basic cellphone

If you ever find yourself stranded — for example, by bad weather — then, you will be glad you took the time to put this kit together.

So, how many of these eight points did you already know? If you’ve found you’ve got some work to do to be able to tick all of these areas off, don’t worry — make the changes, learn what you need, and then look forward to a safer driving experience in the future!

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