’m sure that you have driven for years or are just beginning to learn the ropes. Either way, nothing seems more adult-like than learning how to take care of the car you drive or knowing basic car anatomy. These are the things you will learn through reading this:

  • The Essentials on Changing a Tire
  • Refilling Windshield Wiper Fluid
  • How to Properly Jumpstart Your Car
  • Hacks on Extending the Life of Your Car
  • How to Get Through Long Trips

If your experience is anything like mine, I learned on a light blue 2005 Toyota Prius. This car promised to end all problems. It is a hybrid car that runs on both electric and gas to decrease its gas-guzzling capacity and carbon emissions. My favorite part about this car is at one point, I could fill up the tank with only twenty dollars (score!). Overall, this car was good to me but now it is seeing some bad days. My family had it for so many years, we named it after Sally in the movie Cars, although she was a Porsche. That car saw its good days over a decade ago and needs a lot of care to keep it running.

Below is a guide on understanding the car that you drive. The hope in this guide is to be better prepared than I was with maintaining an older car. Steer away all your troubles with this how-to guide!

A flat tire close up with a hubcap on. Looks like its time to change the tire!
To change or not to change, that is the question. Image courtesy of USA News.

How to Change a Flat Tire

The Millennial and Gen Z Guide to Solving Flat Tires

Millennials and Generation Z drivers can identify with the solution to all problems--let’s just Google it! Nowadays, there is Siri, Alexa, and apps to help with things that you do not know. However, there is a great benefit to knowing how to do essential tasks that your car may need, such as changing a tire.

Maybe you went just too close and hit the curb or a nail punctured your tire and the car starts flashing that your tire pressure is getting very low. In these cases, you have a flat tire and should not continue to drive on this tire.

There are several items that you need to replace a flat tire. First, you need confidence that you can absolutely do this task on your own. The other items you need are the following: a jack to lift the car up to replace the tire, a  lug wrench to tighten and untighten the lug nuts, fully inflated spare tire to replace the flattened tire with, and the vehicle owner’s manual to know where to lift the tire off the ground. Other suggested items are a flashlight, gloves, and a raincoat to be prepared for all circumstances.

These are the important steps to fix flat tires:

  1. Find a safe location to pull over
  2. Put on hazard lights, bring the vehicle to a complete stop, and put in park
  3. Find a comfortable position next to the wheel and make sure that you are not in danger being too close to the road (a flat tire is not worth you physically injuring yourself)
  4. Use either wedges or a brick to keep the car from rolling and put these wedges behind the rear tires if changing a front tire or put the wedges in front tires if changing a tire in the rear
  5. Remove the hubcap or wheel cover if your vehicle has this as a cover over the lug nuts
  6. Loosen the lug nuts by turning them to the left with your wrench
  7. Place the jack under the vehicle in the proper spot as prescribed by your vehicle manual and lift the vehicle so that your wheel is slightly off the ground
  8. Remove the wheel and put on the spare (breathe, you are almost done!)
  9. Tighten the lug nuts to the right and lower the vehicle on the jack. If you have a hub cap, put that back on (make sure the lug nuts are completely tight)
  10. Stow all the equipment and check the pressure of the spare tire
  11. Bring your flat tire to a tire technician

See, this is not rocket science! Changing a tire takes 15-30 minutes and people from many walks of life are able to perform this task. Remember, next time when you get a flat, do not panic, think of these steps, do not drive too fast on the spare tire, and replace the spare tire you used immediately for the next time.

Person pouring in windshield wiper fluid in compartment under the hood marked with a blue cap..
There is really not more to changing windshield wiper fluid than meets the eye. Its convenient light colored cap makes it simple for all beginners in this skill. Image courtesy of Driving Tests.

How to Replace Windshield Wiper Fluid

The Simple Steps to Putting in Windshield Wiper Fluid

Windshield Wiper fluid is an essential component to clear vision while driving. Whether birds have pooped all over your windshield or you need something to clear weather-related debris, windshield wiper fluid can make a world of a difference. 

Make sure to buy windshield wiper fluid at a gas station or auto parts store, check your manual for the proper location of the windshield wiper container, pop the hood of your car and prop it open, the container will be marked by a bright cap with a windshield wiper symbol, once opening the cap, pour in the liquid up to the line, and put on the cap, close the hood, and try it. It is that simple.

If you are really in a jam, make your own windshield wiper fluid by adding water, rubbing alcohol, vinegar or ammonia, liquid dish soap, and food coloring for a reminder not to drink the fluid. It is environmentally friendly and uses less chemicals.

Red and Black jumper cables attached to a dead battery.
Jumpstart your success in learning this skill by abiding by easy steps. Image courtesy of Consumer Reports.

How to Jumpstart a Car

How to Deal with a Dying Battery

When your battery is dead, jump start your car so that you can arrive safely to the store to purchase a new battery. This problem happens to the best of us and happens unexpectedly when your battery is spent. These are the steps to turn your negative circumstances into something positive:

  • Park the car you will use to jumpstart the car with the dead battery next to the other car
  • Turn off ignition of both cars
  • Clamp the end of the positive cable to the positive dead car and connect the negative clamp on the negative dead battery car to the negative live battery car
  • Connect the negative cable from the live car to a ground metal surface
  • Start the live car providing electricity
  •  Start the car with the weakened battery
  • Allow the car to run with the weakened battery for twenty minutes to make sure there is enough charge
  • Disconnect all the cables in the opposite order
A blurred moving image of a red Chrysler Pacifica with a mountainous terrain in the background.
Dash through various terrains and many trios with ease like this Chrysler Pacifica. Image courtesy of Visit USA Parks.

Extend the Life of Your Car

Driving Tips to Maintain Your Car

By this point many have seen the Duracell commercial debate on extra life versus extra power, but the truth is when it comes to cars driven for personal use, you definitely want extra life. The ways to extend car vitality is by paying attention to its warning signals, breaking in the car in a proper way if it is a new car, and going the extra mile to give your car some extra care.

There are many things that you learned from the time you took your drivers test, pre-licensing course, or driving  lessons were ages ago that still apply today. Also, there are other tips and tricks that experienced drivers get to know the hard way--through bad experiences. Some of these tips include: applying the acceleration slowly, during the first 1,000 miles drive under 55 MPH, and trying to avoid driving on potholes too fast because it may cause the tire pressure to decrease. In all situations drive carefully, consolidate short driving trips, buy gas at reputable gas stations, when you are stuck in the snow or mud, go easy, make declutter your keychain to find your keys quickly, choose a good insurance company and plan, keep track of your gas mileage, and wash and wax the car frequently especially in snowy weather.

After applying these tips, your car will thank you back by not breaking down as easily, riding smoothly, and maintaining a great gas mileage.

Mustard yellow car with white wall tires with yellow all geared up for a road trip. The roof has suitcases and a bike on it.
Be eager to pack your car and enjoy long trips with tips to keep you awake and alert. Image courtesy of Visit USA Parks.

Long Trip Tips

How to Stay Awake and Alert on the Road

Long trips are necessary to achieve what you want from your car--to get you from point A to point B. Whether a long trip is for business, visiting a friend, driving to college, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself to hang in there for the long haul. The main points to take away from this is to be safe, alert, and find ways to make yourself feel at ease through the entire process.

The next time you go on a long trip these are the car and travel necessities:

  • Make sure that you get a nap and stay awake on the road (stat:
  • Keep a cold beverage to keep you alert with adjusting the car temperature
  • Bring snacks, audio books or CDs, an aux to charge your phone and play the tunes
  • Have a traveling buddy if possible to talk to and enjoy the ride with
  • Be your own Copilot--Look up directions and get a feel where your going ahead of time
  • Make sure to take breaks at rest stops
  • Have a spare tire, wrench, a jack, jumper cables, air pump, and snow brush
  • Make sure to abide by road rules where you are driving

Learn More About Car Maintenance

When in doubt, refer to your vehicle manual and your auto parts dealer to know essential car anatomy and how to know when your car needs maintenance. Yay, you have done it! Learning about your car is one of the steps towards absolving a stressor of being an adult and learning how to be a better steward of your possessions. We hope you successfully crush at adulting.

Hero image courtesy of Consumer Guide Auto.


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