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3360 Hwy 61 N, St. Paul, MN 55110

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Basic Things Every Car Owner Should Know


Cars are a necessity, and almost every household has one or has access to one. You need a car to get to school, work, the grocery store, and other places. There’s common knowledge every driver should have so they’re able to complete basic car maintenance, and in case of an emergency. You should also have a good understanding of how your car works and how to care for it. Here are some basic things every car owner should know so they can be confident on the road.

How to change a tire

Almost everyone gets a flat tire at least once in their life. You should always be able to change one on your own in case of emergency. You’ll need a jack, lug wrench, and spare tire, so always keep those things in your car. If you get a flat, find a safe place to stop, turn on your hazard lights, and apply your emergency brake. Then, use the lug wrench to remove the hubcap and loosen the lug nuts.

Next, position the jack on a strong part of your vehicle’s frame, and turn it clockwise by hand until it meets your car. Then, turn it clockwise using the handle until the flat is several inches off the ground. Use the lug wrench to remove the loosened lug nuts, then carefully remove the tire and place it away from the road. Put the spare on the wheel by lining up the holes with the bolts.

Then, place the lug nuts back onto the bolts and turn them clockwise with your hands, then tighten them with the lug wrench. Finally, lower the vehicle off of the jack by turning the handle counterclockwise, and remove it once the spare tire is securely on the ground. Make sure to put the lug wrench, jack hubcap and flat tire back in your car.

How to check your tire pressure

Driving with over- or under-inflated tires can be very dangerous, so you should check the pressure in yours at least once a month. To do that, take a tire pressure gauge, press it onto the inflation nipple of each tire, and see how much pressure it reads. There should be a warning somewhere in your car that lists the optimum pressure for your tires. You want to keep yours properly inflated for the best performance and fuel economy.

How to check and change your oil

Checking your oil is easy. Find the dipstick on your engine block, pull it out, and wipe the oil off. Put it back in its tube and push it all the way in, and remove it again. Then, check the indication levels to see how far the oil runs up the dipstick. If the top of the oil streak is between the two marks or within the crosshatched area – depending on what kind of dipstick you have – the level is fine. If it’s below the minimum mark, you need to add oil.

Changing your oil or adding more is also easy. Make sure you use the grade oil that’s recommended in your car’s owner’s manual. You can buy oil at auto-parts stores or at some grocery stores and discount retailers. To add more, remove the oil filler cap, which is usually located on the top of the engine. You should use a funnel to avoid any spills. Add half a quart at first, then wait a minute to check the dipstick again. If the level is still below or near the minimum mark, add another half quart.

When you change your oil, you’ll want the oil to be warn, but not hot. Raise your car off the ground using a jack and safety stands if you need better access. Let the car sit for a while so the exhaust system cools off, but don’t let it get cold. You should wear gloves, because this process can get messy. If necessary, take off the undercover, which is located underneath your car. Place a drain pan under the drain plug. Unscrew the oil filler cap with your hand, then slowly remove the drain plug with a wrench.

While the oil is draining into the pan, inspect and clean the drain plug. Once all of the oil has drained out, screw the drain plug back in. Next, you’ll need to change the oil filter. Put the drain pan underneath the plug to catch any spills. Unscrew the filter using a wrench at first, then your hand. Hold the filter over the pan to drain it. Then, use a rag to wipe away as much oil around where the filter goes as you can. Smear a dab of new oil on the new filter’s O-ring, then install it.

You should take off your gloves for this step so you can get a good grip. Spin the filter on gently until the O-ring makes contact with the sealing service, then turn the filter about three-quarters to tighten it. Reconfirm that the oil drain bolt and filter are both in place and properly tightened. Then, add the new oil. Use a funnel to avoid spills. Add approximately one quart less than the recommended amount. Replace the oil cap, and run the engine for around 30 seconds to circulate the new oil.

Now, lower the car off the jack and safety stands. When it’s flat on the ground, check the oil level. You’ll know if it’s full when the oil comes up to the upper hole or hash mark. If it’s not full, add more oil. When you’re all done, clean up your area and properly dispose of the old oil and filter. Most auto parts stores take taste oil. Local municipalities also usually have hazardous waste drop-off points.

2020 Honda Civic Coupe Touring

How to jump-start your car

Your car battery always dies at a very inconvenient time, right? When it happens to you, don’t call a tow truck right away. Instead, try jumping your car yourself. You’ll need another car and a set of jumper cables, which you should always keep in your car in case of emergency. Make sure both vehicles are turned off, then open their hoods. Attach one red clamp to the positive terminal of the dead battery, and the other red clamp to the positive terminal of the other battery.

Put one of the black clips on the negative terminal on the other battery. Place the other black clip on an unpainted metal surface on your car that isn’t near the battery. Start the working car so its battery can supply power to the dead battery. Let it run for a few minutes, then try to start your car. If it starts, remove the clips in the reverse order you put them on. Let your car run for around 15 minutes to recharge the battery. If the car won’t start the next time you use it, the battery needs to be replaced.

What the lights on your dashboard mean

The lights on a car’s dashboard are pretty universal, so they’re typically the same or similar with all cars. You have to know what they mean so you know what the problem is, and ow quickly it needs to be addressed. They should be listed in your owner’s manual, or you can search for their meaning online. Pay attention to the color of the light: red means get help now, yellow means check out the problem as soon as possible, and green or blue means go or activated.

How to describe your car problems to a mechanic

Mechanics need proper details to be able to diagnose the problem with your car. Describe issues as best as you can, and use adjectives. No details are too small. Instead of saying, “my brakes are noisy,” say, “my brakes are grinding or squeaking.” You don’t want them to misdiagnose the problem because of lack of information from you, because then you’ll end up paying for work you don’t need.

How to drive a manual car

Most modern cars are automatic, but you should know how to drive a manual in case of emergency. Also, if you know how to operate a clutch, there are more options for you when you want to buy a new car. Find a flat area with no one around. Then, get to know the gears first with the engine off. Press down on the clutch pedal until it reaches the floor or its stopping point, then start the car. Release the parking brake, and with the clutch still pressed in, move the shift lever into first gear. Release the clutch pedal while slowly pressing your right foot on the accelerator.

Give it more throttle as you continue to release the clutch pedal until the car starts to move forward. To change gears, press in the clutch, move the shift lever to the next gear, and release the clutch. To stop the car, leave it in its current gear and gently press the brake pedal with your right foot. Then, press your left foot down on the clutch, move the shift lever to neutral, and release the clutch. Those are just the basics of driving a manual. You should practice with someone who has experience operating one so you don’t end up damaging the vehicle.

How to parallel park

You’ll likely have to parallel park to past your driver’s test. If it’s not required, you should learn how to do it anyways. Pull alongside the car that’s in front of the empty spot you want to pull into. Carefully and slowly reverse backward, and slowly cut your wheel about halfway down the midsection of the other car. Keep reversing slowly, and cut the wheel back the opposite way when there’s enough space between your car and and the car in front of you. Then, pull forward or back up to even out the space between the cars you’re parked between.

What to keep in your glovebox

Your glove box isn’t just a place for receipts, food wrappers, and other junk items. You should keep all important documents in there, like your vehicle registration, proof of insurance, owner’s manual, emergency contact numbers, and necessary medical information. It’s also a good place for emergency tools, like a multi-tool, flashlight, tire pressure gauge, small first aid kit, phone charger, and road maps. Other helpful items include napkins, snacks, a face mask, and gloves.

2020 Honda Odyssey Elite

Honda Cars For Sale in St. Paul, MN

If you want to check out some awesome Honda models, come visit us here in St. Paul, MN! Our sales team can help you find the right vehicle for your family. set you up with a test drive with a few models. We can also tell you more about financing or leasing a Honda, and break down all the benefits of our Buerkle Rewards Plus program. We’re located near Minneapolis, Inver Grove, and Blaine, so stop by today!