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Car Maintenance Every Girl Should Know

Who run the world?  Girls.  Queen Bey herself said it, so it must be true.  So why do the men at Jiffy Lube treat us like we couldn’t tell an odometer from a speedometer if our lives depended on it?  Don’t let the fellas underestimate your car savvy!  Here are a few do-it-yourself tricks every foxy mechanic should know.

1. Check your air pressure in your tires
Not only is this crucial if you do not want to break down, but fully-inflated tires are a big factor in your miles per gallon.  Every tire eventually runs a little flat when the seasons change, but if you notice your low tire pressure light coming on frequently, check for punctures in your tires or missing valve caps.  Replacement caps can be purchased at any Wal-Mart, Target or hardware store.  Make sure you are aware of your car’s psi or pounds per square inch.  This weight distribution determines how much air is needed to safely fill your tires without over-inflating.  Not sure of your psi?  It is often located on a sticker on the interior door frame on the driver’s side.  It is also listed in your handy dandy owner’s manual!

2. Check your oil and coolant levels
While regular oil changes with your favorite mechanic or dealership are recommended, it is also good to know how to check levels yourself.  If you notice your car running a little rough, pop the hood.  The oil dipstick is often color-coded and located in the top half of your engine.  Lift the dipstick out and wipe it off with a cloth or towel.  Insert it back into the oil reservoir, pull it out, and look at the indicator at the end.  If the level is below the marked line, you need to fill up!

Maintaining a proper level of coolant is the best way to keep your engine from overheating.  This mix of water and antifreeze can be added by locating the coolant reservoir, usually a clear plastic tank with “full” and “low” indicators.  If possible, use a funnel to avoid spilling.

3. Jump start your battery

Tools necessary: jumper cables, a friend.  Park the cars engine-to-engine, as close as possible without actually touching.  Turn off ALL electrical components of both cars; engine, radio, fan, air conditioning, etc.  Locate the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals on both batteries.  Take a look at the ends of your jumper cables.  Typically red is positive and black is negative.  

Connect cables and terminals in this order:

– Positive clamp to positive terminal on dead battery

– Positive clamp to positive terminal on live battery

– Negative clamp to negative terminal on live battery

– Negative clamp to negative terminal on dead battery

Expect sparks to fly when you connect the final clamp.  After making sure that everything is secure, start the working car.  Let it run idle for a few moments, and then crank the dead car’s engine.  If it doesn’t spring to life, turn both cars off and seek professional assistance.  If your jump start is successful, remove the cables in this order:

– Negative clamp from “dead” battery

– Negative clamp from live battery

– Positive clamp from live battery

– Positive clamp from “dead” battery

Run the “dead” car for a few minutes before cutting the engine off, just to make sure everything is fully-charged.

Besides jumper cables, there are a few things every girl should keep in her car at all times.

– A flashlight will come in handy if you break down at night, need to inspect your engine, or if your favorite lip gloss rolls under the front seat.

– Batteries, for the flashlight.

– A simple ice-scraper is a must during the wintry months.  You can find a cute pink one in the dollar section at Target!

– A gallon of water for dousing an overheated radiator.  In a pinch, water can also be used in place of coolant.

In addition to all these tips, it is important to flip through your owner’s manual.  While it’s not as fun a read as, say, HerCampus magazine, it contains a lot of useful information about your vehicle.  Roadside assistance services, like AAA are also a good investment.  Last but certainly not least, always make sure you have gas in your tank before hitting the road!

Sources:
Megan Fox under the hood (photo): http://nilesfilmfiles.blogspot.com/2011/06/dark-ages-michael-bay-michelle-bachmann.html
Tire pressure (photo): http://www.carswiki.net/1374/tires%E2%80%99-air-pressure-affect-on-car%E2%80%99s-speed/
Oil change (photo): http://protege-magazine.com/2011/06/03/how-to-check-oil-level/
Jumper cables (photo): http://www.sanjosetowing.biz/jump-start-san-jose/

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