car maintenance

How to Take Care of Your Car

car maintenance

Listen, I am not a car person by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the time, my car looks like I live in it. My son completely runs the back seat, which means it’s covered in Lego guys, books, and peanut butter. The front seat – my domain – is usually littered with junk mail and large drink cups from Steak ‘n Shake that were once filled with delicious Coke Zero. The trunk is a permanent home for camping chairs and all of the sweatshirts I think I’ll need because I’ll be too cold at the movie theater, but then forget to take in.

The outside isn’t much better. Last weekend, I backed out of my brother’s driveway right into his truck (black), which was parked on the street (dark). I also bump the passenger-side mirror almost every time I pull up to open my mailbox.

So, essentially, I suck at taking care of my car, but you know, IT WORKS.

And then a few weeks ago, I was leaving a restaurant after hanging out with some friends when one of them noticed that my tire was almost completely flat. Full disclosure: I knew I had a  leak because my tire pressure light had come on, but when I stopped at a gas station to check it, they all looked fine, so I forgot about it.

Suck, suck, suck.

My friend drove me home, and then Josie and I went back to the restaurant to change the tire. We’ve had to change a tire in the freezing snow before with lug nuts that would. not. move., so we figured it would be a breeze this time!

It wasn’t.

We got the lug nuts off in no time, but the tire itself would NOT come off the car! Josie thinks I might have bent the rim or something by driving on it (probably) and that’s why it’s stuck. Regardless, we worked on it for over an hour and it wouldn’t budge. We ran to AutoZone to get a bit for our air compressor so we could just pump up the tire and bring it back home to work on, but when Josie came out, she had something else:

tire inflator

Available here.

A portable tire inflator that you plug into your phone jack? That has a flashlight and a pressure gauge?! I didn’t know such a thing existed! And it was only fifteen bucks! I wasn’t able to take my car in right away to get the tire repaired, but in the mean time, I just used this bad boy to get me back to full pressure before I did my running around for the day.

After that incident, I realized how woeful my level of car care really was, and have since decided that I need to be a better car owner if only for the simple fact that I’ve spent thousands of dollars on it, and would like to not have to do that again anytime soon.

HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR CAR AND NOT WAIT UNTIL IT TOTALLY DIES ON YOU AND YOU’RE STRANDED AND THEN MURDERED BY AN ESCAPED SERIAL KILLER

LEARN HOW TO CHANGE A TIRE. Yes, there are many services you have at your beck and call that will help you out if you’re ever in a flat/exploded-tire situation. Maybe you have friends/parents/a significant other that will come to your rescue. But in case of emergency, it sure doesn’t hurt to know how to do it yourself.

Changing a tire is unbelievably simple, and as long as your lug nuts aren’t rusted and the rim of your tire isn’t bent (ahem), it should only take you about 20 minutes or so from start to finish.

Here’s a quick how to:

A couple of tips:

  1. I personally hate the scissor jacks that come with most cars because they take forever. They certainly work, but I prefer a floor jack like this one.  It’s obviously not necessary, since your car comes with a jack, but they’re so much easier and faster to use.
  2. After having trouble removing extremely tight lug nuts, I realized I needed more leverage when I’m changing a tire – especially if I’m by myself. This universal lug wrench makes lug nut removal a much easier process.
  3. That tire inflator I mentioned above is GREAT. I’m definitely glad I have that around in case of a puncture or slow leak. If my tire is ever low again, I don’t have to worry about finding a gas station (or a quarter!) to air it up.

LEARN HOW TO JUMP START YOUR CAR. This is something that I’ve never attempted because it intimidates the crap out of me, but it’s really not hard if you have a guide. I’m a visual girl and find the one below pretty easy to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just don’t depend on a friendly motorist to have jumper cables – buy some of your own and keep them in the trunk.

TAKE IT IN FOR REGULAR MAINTENANCE. Obviously, the best tactic for keeping your car running is to take it in for regular maintenance so problems can be detected before they get out of control.

Even taking your car in for an oil change can make a difference. The employees will check belts and fluid levels and let you know if they see a problem developing.

However, it’s really in your best interest to know how often these types of things really need checked and/or replaced. Understanding how your car works can go a long way in preventing unnecessary purchases.

Below is a helpful checklist you can refer to for regular maintenance.

Source: Angie’s List

TAKE CARE OF THE INTERIOR. HA! I almost can’t even take myself seriously with this one, but let’s pretend I’ll actually do some of these things one day.

I’m on Pinterest a lot because I live in a dream world, and sometimes I see pins about car organization that make me really yearn for the cleanliness my car deserves. Poor, neglected thing.

I love this caddy for organizing all of the aforementioned tools and fluids. Right now they’re just strung all over my trunk, wrinkling my unworn movie hoodies.

And maybe Max’s crap wouldn’t take over the backseat if he had this fun backpack thing to keep it in? Hahahahahaha! A girl can dream!

Seriously, though. I think that thing is rad!

I have a garbage can in my car right now, but it’s open, and I hate how messy it makes everything look when it’s full. Maybe this one with a flip lid would keep things tidier?

And of course, CLEANING your car goes a long way. Not that I would know, but I’m sure it’s very nice and makes everything smell lovely instead of like old french fries and well-worn roller skates.

There are a million and one guides to deep cleaning your car, but this one had the best tips and tricks I could find. I think I actually WILL try some of these!

My upholstery is a mess, but I never know how to clean it, so I’m excited to try it out!

When it comes down to it, I try and fail repeatedly to take care of my car, but I’d like to be better! Maybe you guys could help me out, too – what do you do to take care of your vehicle?

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