Springtime means times for traveling and shaking off the cobwebs of winter cabin fever. When you are out driving, you always run the risk of getting a flat tire. An unseen nail or piece of glass in the road has caused many drivers to be sidelined. While they wait for a ride or for someone to come along and change the tire for them, other drivers are repairing their tires or replacing them on the roadside and continuing with their day. It is important to learn how to change a tire so that you will not be left at the mercy of someone else while they have to shuffle plans to come to your rescue. For a woman with children, it would be very important because the less time that your children are stranded and exposed in the wet, cool spring weather, the safer and healthier they and you will be. First Things First The first thing you should do is to get your car off onto the shoulder as far as you can go or park in a spot where you will not interfere with passing or oncoming traffic. After parking and turning off your engine, you should take out your lug wrench, jack, and spare tire. Make sure that your spare tire is properly inflated or is not damaged in any way. Remove the hubcap if you have one and use the lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts, which hold the wheel onto the axle stem. After you have loosened the nuts, put the jack underneath the car in the appropriate spot and slowly jack the car up until the tire is suspended above the ground. Do not raise the jack too high or the car will tilt over; raise it just enough to get the tire off without it scraping the ground as you pull it off. Next Things Next After you have the nuts loosened and the car jacked up into position, hand-loosen the lug nuts and remove them one by one in a star pattern. Take care that you lay out the lug nuts in the order that you removed them. Grasp the tire with both hands and slowly pull it straight out and off the axle stem. Set the old tire aside and install the spare tire. Make sure that the spare is the correct size for your car. Apply even pressure as you install the new tire so that it will be perpendicular to the road. Reinstall the lug nuts in the order in which they were removed and hand-tighten. Then take the lug wrench and tighten the lug nuts, but do not over-tighten. Slowly lower the jack until the car is back on the ground. You will be ready to drive the car to an auto parts or tire store to purchase a new tire or take it to a mechanic to replace it for you. Mobility Has its Privileges Being able to change your own tire can mean the difference between being inconvenienced for a few minutes and getting dirty but mobile again and being inconvenienced for hours and have to spend money to pay your helper or a tow truck. You may be able to purchase a tire repair patch kit from the auto parts store that you can apply to the inside of the tire or you can buy a canned chemical substance that inflates and seals the hole in your tire so that you can make it to a repair shop. Either may get you by in a pinch, but being able to do your own tire repair gives you a freedom that has longer-lasting benefits.
Spring, the precursor to summer, is the beginning of the travel season as many people take time to visit relatives and friends for the holidays or taking advantage of some needed rest and relaxation. There are very few things in the driving experience more disheartening than being prepared to go for a drive and being confronted with a dead car battery. If you have had your spring general car maintenance done, you would have been alerted to a dying battery before this happened. You should have your battery checked on a regular basis so that you can keep abreast of its health and when it should be replaced. What Makes a Car Battery Work? A car battery is a small box that houses a long-acting chemical reaction. It is rechargeable and it supplies power to parts of the car such as the ignition system, starter, and lights. The majority of batteries produced contain lead-acid, which are comprised of alternating plates of lead and lead dioxide that is submerged in a sulfuric acid-water solution. The plates emit electrons because the lead is reacting with the sulfuric acid solution. The electrons produce electricity. The chemical reaction changes the surface of the plates from lead to lead sulfate as the battery discharges. When the battery recharges, the chemical reaction is reversed. How Is a Battery Maintained? The most important piece of information you can have on your battery is the age. Most batteries only last for a maximum of 48 months, so if your battery is nearing that age, then you should replace it. If you experience very cold winters, you should have your battery tested every spring. The coldness of winter causes a battery to work harder, and it would be wise to make sure that your battery is still performing at optimal levels after performing the additional work added onto it by the cold weather. If you spend a large amount of time behind the wheel, you should make battery inspection as part of your regular spring general maintenance plane. Make sure that your battery is cleaned off before you begin your visual inspection. Clean off the case and terminals and make sure that the surfaces are free from corrosion. Make sure that the battery is firmly and securely seating in its cradle. Some batteries are closed, which means that you cannot open them to access the fluid levels and other batteries are open. Check the fluid levels inside the battery if you have access. If you notice the level is low, replenish with distilled water. If you are uncomfortable doing this or if your car does not allow you to access the fluids in your battery, you can have a professional add the water or perform a load test to determine the remaining life of the battery. What to Do if the Battery Dies? If your car battery is dead, you can recharge it if the recharge system in the car is not functioning. You can purchase a battery charger that plugs into a wall outlet. The clamps are attached to the positive and negative terminals on the top of the battery. The instructions will tell you how to decipher the readouts. You can also jump-start your car by connecting the dead battery to the battery in another car with jumper cables.
Now that you have made it through the winter, you may be thinking about gearing your car up for spring. College kids are traveling for spring break, families are taking vacations for the Easter holiday, and various events are happening that you may want to attend by car. You need to make sure that your car will be able to handle the increase in usage. If you had your winter safety inspection, then you may want to have your car maintained for the spring. Is spring maintenance different from winter maintenance? The simple answer would be yes, it is different, but it is not that much different between the two. Both involve preparing your car for the coming season and making sure that your car will transport you to your destinations safely. Both involve making sure that your car will last longer on the road. The difference is minute, but it is worth noting. How Are They the Same? Both winter and spring maintenance involves the same basic tenets of car maintenance. One of the main tasks would be getting your oil changed. An oil change will keep your car lubricated, keep the engine clean, and protect delicate engine parts against heat and friction. Changing air and oil filters will stem the introduction of contaminants into the oil and engine. Your brake fluid keeps your brakes lubricated and the maintained brake lines will guard against leaks, corrosion, or breaks. A wheel alignment will keep your car centered and easier to control while driving. Proper tire inflation will make sure the air pressure inside is at a safe level. Having your tires rotated will help the tread to wear evenly and help the tires to last longer. Winter and spring tasks would also include a check of the steering and suspension system to make sure that your car will give you a safer, more comfortable, and controlled ride. What is the Difference? The main difference between winter and spring tasks would be the type of oil that is used in the oil change. In the wintertime, you probably switched your oil to a thinner or lighter weight. This was done to let the oil properly lubricate and protect the engine by being able to flow over the parts in very cold temperatures. During the warmer months, you probably switched your oil back to thicker or heavier oil. This is the main difference between preparing your car for winter and preparing it for spring. What Tasks to Always Remember Regardless of the season, you want to make sure that you practice regular general car maintenance. Each seasonal inspection will make sure that your car will make it through the upcoming weather changes. For spring, you will be making sure that you are using the correct type of oil for warmer weather and for the make, model, and year of your car. If you are not sure which to use, you can consult the owner’s manual or ask your mechanic. Always make sure that when you have your oil change that you also have your oil and air filters changed. Check your spark plugs, wires, and your battery. Clean off and inspect the battery posts and connection points. Inspect your brakes and make sure that your pads are intact and the discs show even wear. Look at your tires and check for any uneven wear patterns in the tread. Have your wheels aligned and your tires inspected and rotated if needed. You should also include checks of the steering and suspension, electrical system, and make any necessary repairs or replacements.
Many people who choose to perform their own general car maintenance have done so because they have had experiences with mechanics in the past that were not pleasant. Some people have a very negative view of them and will even let some important tasks such as vehicle safety inspections go undone, which can result in expensive auto repair that could have been avoided. What many people do not realize is that the mechanic can be a good source of automobile information and can help you keep your car in good condition from season to season, even if you do all of your own car repair and maintenance. The Mechanic is Not a Cheat or a Scammer While the potential for abuse exists in every occupation, mechanics have been suffering under the misconception of being scam artist for many years. A reputable mechanic will only charge you competitive prices for the work that needs to be done and that is all. They will not pressure you into making repairs that you do not need and they will not perform and charge you for work that you did not initially authorize. If you take your car in for an oil change, you will not be talked into a radiator flush or wheel alignment if you do not need it. If you have a vehicle safety inspection and the mechanic finds that you do in fact need those things, you will be informed of the needed repairs and then the decision will be yours if you want to have those repairs done at that time. You will not be subjected to any high-pressure sales tactics or be inundated with terminology that you do not understand. A reputable repair shop will have mechanics that can explain the work that needs to be done, when it should be done, the cost involved, and give you reasonable alternatives. The Mechanic is Not Unprofessional While some mechanics have a relaxed atmosphere, it should not be interpreted as being unprofessional. A good mechanic will keep accurate, detailed records of the vehicles that are serviced and will be able to relay to the customer information about their cars that may be needed for warranty or insurance purposes. A good mechanic will be able to produce records for your car and you can use those records to keep track of when you should have an oil change, brake repair, or any other auto repair that you have had done. This good record keeping can also help you keep track of maintenance and repairs if you have multiple cars. The Mechanic is a Source of Automotive Knowledge Mechanics are not hoarders of car information. If you have any questions about a strange sound that you noticed from the engine or a slight shudder when you stepped on the brakes, your mechanic can help you diagnose the problem. They can give you several causes for the problem and let you know which parts and tools you need to make the repair yourself. Mechanics are well aware that some people prefer to do their own work and will offer assistance in the form of information and instruction. If you get to a point where the repair becomes too complex or the problem cannot be diagnosed unless the car is connected to a computer, then your mechanic will be able to help you by doing the diagnosis for you and allowing you to make the repairs yourself. While you are getting ready for the spring, you should view the mechanic as a source to access rather than allowing misconceptions to cloud you and way lay your attempts to having a problem-free spring driving season.