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Car Maintenance Your Parents Should Have Taught You

Ever been stuck on the side of the road with a flat tyre? Here's that and a list of other car maintenance your parents should have taught you.

Posted on: August 26, 2016

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Like most red P-platers/first-time car owners, your parents are almost always guaranteed to give you a run down on how to get out of a sticky, broken-down car situation. Most people always say ‘just give roadside assistance a call, but in reality who wants to admit to the friendly mechanic that you didn’t know how to change a tyre?

The initial lesson (usually conducted by your nifty, automotive inclined father) will show you how to change a tyre, check your oil and where to refill fluid in your windscreen wiper reservoir. The ones following that aren’t really given the attention from the student as required.

So, here’s a list of car maintenance skills your parent never taught you – or did and you just weren’t listening.

Engine Oil

Quite possibly the easiest to check, engine oil only requires a dirty rag and relatively okay eyesight. This is actually such an integral part of your engine and if neglected, it could unfortunately be catastrophic.

If you can think back to the day you got your first car, you can probably remember your dad yanking out the dipstick and wiping it with a rag then going for it again. This was to check the oil level and health in the car. The dipstick actually does all the work for you and had two dots with the lower one indicating if the oil is low and the higher dot to show that it is full. You then need to make sure that the oil is a black/brownish colour to know if it is still in good shape.

Tyre Pressure and Tread Depth

Tyre pressure is simple to do. When you go to fuel up your car next, pop on over to the air station and check the pressure on the machine. If low (there should be a recommended pressure in your car manual or on the inside of a door) then set the correct pressure and pump them up. Super simple stuff.

It’s also imperative that you check the tread of your tyres. Usually around the 50,000km mark you should replace, but it is much easier to avoid a fine or the danger of driving with bald tyres by checking them against the tread wear bar that it built into the tyre – these new age inventions are marvellous aren’t they?

Jumpstart your car

Growing up on a farm, you’re exposed to many car problems that you need a DIY mentality for. Jumpstarting a car (or tractor) is one of them. The actual process if easy enough to do, but remembering which cable goes where could be your downfall. In comes Google and you’ll be back and running in no time. So, here’s how:

  • Turn both cars off
  • Connect one end of the red (positive) jumper cable to the positive terminal on the stalled battery
  • Connect the other red (positive) cable to the negative terminal of the good battery
  • Connect one end of the black (negative) jumper cable to the negative terminal of the good battery
  • Connect the other black (negative) cable to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the disabled car's hood
  • Start the car that's doing the jumping; run for 2 to 3 minutes before starting the dead car
  • Remove cables in reverse order
  • Keep jumped car running for 30-40 minutes to give the battery enough time to recharge

Change a flat tyre

Did your dad ever make you change a tyre at the dealership before you could drive your brand-spanking new car out or was that just me?

The job itself is easy enough to do, you just need time and patience. You also need to know where to locate the spare tyre and jack. It’s super, simple stuff and your car manual will have all your step-by-step instructions to not mess it up.

Happy doing grown up things!

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