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Car maintenance can be a scary thing to contemplate when you have your first car. Owning a car is expensive, and they’re complex machines that shouldn’t be tampered with lightly. That said, the car is yours now, and it’s worth knowing a bit about how to take care of it. With a little care and prior knowledge, anyone can succeed at tackling some simple, common car problems.
Changing a Wheel
No matter how careful a driver you are, flat tyres happen to everyone – and often at the most awkward of moments, so this one is well worth knowing. First, make sure you’re in a flat, safe place, away from passing traffic. If you’re on the road, turn on your hazard lights as an extra precaution.
Next step, jacking up the car. Read your car manual to ensure you place the jack in the right position – otherwise you risk cracking your car’s moulded plastic, meaning a costly repair. There’s usually a small mark on your car to indicate the exact spot.
Raise the jack until it’s supporting – but not lifting – the car, and firmly in place. Carefully take off the hubcap and loosen the nuts underneath; don’t remove them though. This can take a little bit of brute strength, so use your muscles!
Next, use the jack to lift the car so the tyre is off the ground. Remove the loosened nuts completely and then remove the tyre. Slot the spare tyre in place and then tighten the nuts – by hand first, then as much as possible. Hey presto – you’re on the road once again!
Checking your Oil
Another easy, useful thing to know – your car’s oil keeps the engine running, so knowing it’s at the right level is vital. With the engine off and cold, open the bonnet and find the dipstick. Pull it carefully free, ensure it’s clean and then push it all the way back in. When you pull it back out, check it carefully – each car model is different, but there will be marks to show whether your oil level is correct or not. Check your user manual if you’re unsure.
If your oil is low, check your owner’s manual for the recommended grade and purchase at a petrol station or car parts shop. Take off the oil filler cap, and then move carefully – overfilling can damage the engine. Add a small amount to begin with – grab a funnel to prevent mess. Wait around a minute for it to settle, and then use the dipstick to check again.
Overheating is bad news for your engine, so checking your coolant is a smart idea. Ensure your engine is off and cold – scalding can be a serious problem here, and can affect the reading, so take this one seriously. Locate your coolant tank, and ensure the level of coolant is between the MIN and MAX markings. If it’s not, make sure you top it up with undiluted coolant to the MAX marking.