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10 basic car maintenance skills everyone should have

Mechanic replaces wheel in a commercial garage

1. Change a flat tire

Changing a flat is one of the most important vehicle repair skills you can have. Getting a flat tire is frustrating but replacing it with the spare tire is not difficult.

  • Use a wrench to loosen the lug nuts.
  • Lift the car with the jack.
  • Take off the lug nuts and then the tire.
  • Put the spare tire on.
  • Put the lug nuts back.
  • Lower the car.
  • Make sure the lug nuts are tight.

2. Jumpstart your car

You will probably need to know how to jumpstart your car at some point and it can save you a lot of time waiting for roadside assistance.

  • Put both vehicles in neural and turn them off.
  • Attach a red clip to the positive terminal of the battery in your car and the other to the positive battery terminal of the other car.
  • Attach a black clip to the other car’s negative battery terminal.
  • Attach the other black clip to an unpainted metal surface on your car.
  • Start the engine and do not turn your car off until you have driven it for a few minutes.

3. Change the oil

Clean oil helps your car run better and your engine last longer. Check your oil regularly and change it when required.

  • Remove the drain plug.
  • Unscrew the oil filter and empty it.
  • Put the plug back.
  • Pour in the new oil.

4. Change spark plugs

If you have trouble starting your car, the check engine light is on, you are getting poor gas mileage, you can hear the engine idling roughly, your car is slow to accelerate, or it has not been done in about 130,000 km, it is time to change your spark plugs.

  • Find the spark plug.
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire.
  • Replace the old spark plug with a new one.
  • Reconnect the wire.

5. Change the battery

Check your battery regularly and know how to replace it to avoid the hassle of your car not starting. Changing your car battery is easy.

  • Remove the covers.
  • Disconnect the negative cables and remove the clamp from the post.
  • Disconnect the positive cables and clamp.
  • Remove the screws.
  • Replace the old battery with a new one.
  • Put the cable clamps back.

6. Change wiper blades

Windshield wiper blades are an often forgotten but very important vehicle safety feature. They should always be in perfect shape and you can easily replace them yourself.

  • Lift the wiper up off the windshield and press the tab to take off the old wiper.
  • Put the new one on.

7. Replace air filters

Air filters are often overlooked but protect your vehicle’s engine from contaminants such as dust.

  • Open the hood and find the air filter box. It is the black box with a large hose coming out of its side.
  • Open the air filter box and take out the old filter.
  • Put the new one in and close the box.

8. Replace brake pads

Your brakes should always be in excellent condition to avoid risking an accident. Changing brake pads is similar to changing a flat tire.

  • Use a jack to lift the car.
  • Remove the tires.
  • Remove the slider bolts.
  • Remove the old brake pads.
  • Put the new brake pads on and secure them with the slider bolts.
  • Put the tires back on.

9. Replace a headlight or taillight

A broken light on your car can be a safety hazard and get you a ticket. Fortunately, it is easy to fix yourself.

  • Remove the screws connecting the frame of the light to the bracket.
  • Disconnect the wires powering the bulb.
  • Replace the old bulb with a new one and put everything back.

10. Fix scratches

Removing scratches from the paint can be very expensive unless you do it yourself.

  • Sand out the scratch.
  • Polish it with rubbing compound.
  • Wax it.