Quick: Your tire blows out—would you know how to change it?
Knowing how to perform basic car maintenance goes beyond time and money when you’re in a jam. It can also help drivers foster a deeper connection with their ride—helping to assess when their car may be in need of more serious repairs. (And of course, there’s GEICO Emergency Road Service if you get stuck.)
Here are five important tasks to learn when it comes to maintaining your car.
Change a Flat Tire
This is one of the first maintenance tasks many drivers learn, and one of the most important. Always pull over to a safe location (if you can’t, call for help), set the parking brake, and loosen (but don’t remove) the lug nuts before jacking up the car (and consult your owner’s manual for the proper placement of the jack). Spare tires should be placed only on the rear. If you blow a front tire, move a rear tire forward (if front and rear tires are the same size on your vehicle) and put the spare on the back. Mount the spare with the air valve facing out and replace the lug nuts, tightening them gradually in an alternating pattern.
Keep rolling with our video on how to change a flat tire.
Jumpstart Your Car
Yep, you can do this. After turning off the engine on both your car and the one giving you the juice, grab your jumper cables and identify the battery terminals. (Check the owner’s manual.) Connect the positive (red) clamps to the positive terminals; throughout the whole process, don’t let the jumper leads come into contact. Attach one (black) negative clamp to the negative terminal of the working battery, and the other to an unpainted metal surface under the hood of the immobilized car, such as a bolt. Start the engine of the working car and wait five minutes for your battery to charge.
Power through our guide on how to jumpstart a car.
Check Tire Pressure
Incorrect tire pressure can impact your car’s handling and gas mileage more than you might think. First, check the recommended PSI (look inside the driver’s side doorjamb or in your owner’s manual) and wait until your tires are cool before removing the caps from the air valves. Firmly apply the pressure gauge to the valve, ensuring a solid seal between gauge and valve. If the pressure is too low or too high, use an air compressor (available at many gas stations) to add air, or depress the pin in the valve to remove air—and never overfill your tires.
Pump up your knowledge with our guide on how to check tire pressure.
Replace Windshield Wiper Blades
It’s easy to overlook worn wipers—that is, until you’re caught in a rainstorm and they’re not clearing your line of sight. Wipers should be replaced every six months, especially after the beating they take in the winter; in the meantime, and listen for slapping, squeaking or chattering that can indicate disrepair.
Get a clear picture on this—read about how to replace windshield wiper blades.
Check Fluid Levels
Fluids such as engine oil, transmission fluid, wiper fluid and radiator coolant are your vehicle’s lifeblood. Checking most of them requires some familiarity with your engine, so consult your owner’s manual for details on how to monitor them properly and how often to check. Always allow the engine to cool down before going under the hood.
Fill yourself with knowledge—here’s how to check your oil and wiper fluid.
Up to speed? Now complement your car know-how with a free auto insurance quote from GEICO.
Read More: If your car breaks down, having the right emergency items in your trunk is essential.