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5 Important Things You Should Learn if You Have a Car

After having a car for almost five years there are many things that I found I needed to learn how to do. Here are five things that I think you should learn if you have a car so that you can be prepared no matter where you are or who you are with: 

How to change a spare tire 

If you have a car or even drive a car frequently you should learn how to change a flat tire so that if you are ever caught in a situation you are prepared. The first thing is that when you notice you have a flat tire don’t stop abruptly or do any sharp turns. Continue to drive safely to a safe location. A lot of times your car will have a wrench, a jack, and a spare tire. If it doesn’t you should get these items. The second thing you should do is turn on your parking brake. This step is super important! It should keep your car from rolling.  You should put wedges in your wheels too and if you don’t have those you can use bricks or rocks, anything to keep your car from rolling. If your car has a hub cap then remove it, if not and your lug nuts are exposed then you can go ahead and start loosening the lug nuts. The weight from the car helps apply pressure to make this easier. Then once they are loose you are good to start jacking your car. When you jack your car it should be where the flat tire is and on metal. There may be more information in your owner’s manual that is more specific to your car. On asphalt if you have wood it could be helpful to place it under the jack so that it doesn’t settle under the weight. Then raise the car with the jack. You then can pull off the wheel and then put the new one on and balance it on the lug nuts. 

You should tighten the lug nuts by hand and then lower the jack back down, once the car has the weight back on the new wheel you can tighten the lug nuts the rest of the way. Then you can replace the hubcap if you have one and then you should check your tire pressure to make sure the tire is all good! 

How to check your oil 

This is the first thing I learned how to do. It is very simple; all you need is your car and a paper towel. You just have to pop open your hood and take out the little plug at the top of the oil container, which should be labeled. Then you wipe it off on the towel, stick it in and then take it out again and see where the oil goes up. There should be little marks or holes on the rod that tell you where the oil should be. 

How to check your tire pressure

This is something that I struggled with at first because I had to learn how to use the gauge and the right angle to hold it for my car. But, once you get it it is really easy to do. First, you need to find your gauge.  Each one may be different so you should refer to the instructions on how to use your specific one, but for most you unscrew the cap on the air hole and you connect the gauge. Then you may have to press a button or just hold it so that it measures the air pressure. 

How to jump start your car 

This one might seem scary but it is actually really easy. It is always helpful, too, if you keep jumper cables with you so that you will have them in case of an emergency. To make things easier you will want to have the parts of the car with the battery (in most cars this is under the hood) close to each other so the cables can reach. Then you want to make sure both cars have their parking brakes on and turned off. Then you will open both hoods. You will find the red (the positive) and the black (the negative) terminals on both batteries and if neither of them are corroded you will clamp the red cable to the red/positive terminal on the good car, then connect the red to the positive/red terminal on the dead car. 

Then on the good car connect the black cable to the negative/black terminal, then connect the other into the ground. The ground is a flat unpainted metal part on the car’s frame. Then start the good car and let it run for a few minutes, then start the bar car. Once both cars are running, disconnect the cables in the reverse order you put them on. You should do that very carefully and not touch the ends of the cables or let them touch each other until they are all disconnected. 

How to replace your windshield wipers 

Each car is a little different but there are three main types: screwed in, tabs or pinned in. It is also important that you should change both screws at the same time. To change them you will have to put them vertical and then either unscrew the screws, unhitch the tab or pull the pins. Then unhook the wiper and pop the new one in. Rescrew, retab or repin the wiper in and place it back down. One thing that you should be careful of is to not have the wipers slam back down while you replace them. You can put a towel on your windshield to protect it. 

Overall, if you have a car there are many things that you should learn so that you can always be prepared. There are also services that you could call like AAA but it never hurts to know how to get yourself out of a sticky situation. 

(she/her) Madison Thompson is a junior at The University of Missouri- Columbia and has direct admission into the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism School. She is an older sister and loves to read and write. In addition to Journalism, Madison loves creative writing. Madison has a self-published poetry book titled "The Journey". Her Poem Supermarket was a finalist in the 2019 KET writing contest.
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