A Dummies Guide to Car Maintenance

dummies guide to car maintenance

This post is in collaboration with Switched on Media

I have two confessions to make today. Firstly, I would like to admit that I have never changed a car tyre in my life. There’s no way you will find me on the side of the road (or wherever my car might decide to get a flat) changing a tyre. Secondly, I would also like to admit that I have never put air in my tyres because I have a huge fear that instead of putting air in my tyres, I will actually let the air out.

So with the help of my lovely husband Mr. G, a mechanic in his younger years and pre-Eva, I put together a bit of a list for ‘dummies’ like me on important aspects of car maintenance, things that you might just be grateful for knowing at some point in your life. If you’re looking to impress your other half with your mechanical knowledge, this is a good start too!

So here we go. Welcome to Eva’s Garage!

Tyre pressure

  • Always aim to maintain your car’s tyre pressure at 32 psi
  • To check the tyre pressure, go to a service station with a digital air pump
  • Undo the plastic cap on the valve stem of the tyre, push the nozzle on and the pump will do the rest.
  • Air will only come out if the nozzle isn’t pushed on correctly, push it on hard until there is no air coming out.
  • If the pressure is ok, there’s no need to fill. If it needs filling, fill until 32 psi.

tyre pressure

Tyre wear

  • You should always get a tyre rotation and wheel alignment every 10,000 km so that you are getting the best life from your tyres.
  • Keep an eye on tyre wear by checking the Tyre Wear Indicators. This video explains what to look for:

Windscreen

Don’t know how/where to fill up your windscreen wiper bottle?  Let’s take a look at the engine of this sedan, the windscreen wiper bottle is circled. Whichever make of car, the windscreen water is usually labelled with a very similar symbol.

Honda Sedan

Radiator

Most cars will have a cap on top of the radiator. When checking the radiator water, it should be greenish.

WARNING: NEVER OPEN A RADIATOR CAP WHEN THE ENGINE IS HOT!

If you ever need to top up your radiator water, the water height should almost be at the top of the radiator. You will notice a secondary bottle to the radiator with a plastic hose leading to it, this is the overflow for when the water expands and contracts. The water will either go into the secondary bottle or be taken from it. Never over fill this bottle.

Oil

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your car’s oil levels. But how, you ask?

  1. Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag. (Perhaps you may remember this name ‘dipstick’ because it was what you once called your idiot ex-boyfriend? Sorry, couldn’t help myself!)
  2. You will notice 2 marks, sometimes they can just be holes and represent a low and high mark.
  3. Put the dipstick back in and then pull it out again.
  4. As long as the oil level is somewhere near the top (high indicator) you are OK. If not, you might have to fill it up….but…
  5. It’s always best to have low oil levels checked by a qualified mechanic because there could be an underlying problem.
  6. If the oil is a funny colour, there could be a couple of reasons.
    • A very black colour could mean your car is due for a service & oil change
    • A milky colour could mean your oil contains water and should be checked by a mechanic immediately.

Changing a tyre

Now eventhough Mr. G has talked me through changing a tyre numerous times, I still don’t know if you’ll catch me changing a tyre. I don’t think I’d feel safe driving my car after knowing I was the one that changed the tyre, I’d be worried it might fall off! But who knows, there could be a time in the future when both you and I need to do this, a time when you might be glad you read this blog post!

All the tools you will need should be located in your car boot – a jack, a handle for the jack, a spanner.

Changing a tyre is a very visual thing and so I decided to include a video for your to follow. But make sure you check Mr. G’s tips below about changing a tyre. Mr G’s family owned a tyre business once and so he knows!

Mr. G’s Tyre Changing Tips

  1. Before the car is jacked up in the air, loosen the wheel nuts. It’s far easier doing it when the car is on the ground otherwise the wheel will want to spin when the car is in the air.
  2. While the car is jacked up, put the spare wheel that is about to go on, under the car next to the jack. When you remove the old tyre, replace the tyre and ensure there’s always a spare tyre under the car next to the jack. This is a safety measure and will save you serious injury if the car were ever to fall off the jack. At least it will fall onto the spare tyre instead.

Here’s a comprehensive video to show you how to change a tyre properly and safely.


Whether you’re the owner of an SUV, sedan car hatchback or sports car, these guidelines for car maintenance are all the same for whichever car you drive. To be honest with you, Mr. G is the one that usually keeps check on all of these things, but there have been situations where it would have been helpful that I knew a bit more than what I did. It’s a safety thing too.

Are you a bit of a dummy like me when it comes to car maintenance?

Oh and is your car insured? Better to be safe than sorry. Check out my Youi car insurance review.

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman - a lifestyle and parenting blog.She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a Mum to her 4-year-old son, 2 month old daughter, two chickens, one dog and a fish called Bob and a wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little cottage on the outskirts of Brisbane.

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11 Comments

  1. June 30, 2015 / 8:01 am

    I once tried to help change a tyre but it turns out I have ridiculously weak hands. Sigh! Great post Eva, lots of people don’t know this stuff! Me included!
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  2. June 30, 2015 / 2:49 pm

    I’ve never done this either, though my dad did attempt to teach me when I was a teen. I think it was Bron from Maxabella loves who changed her tyre the other week by watching You Tube. I was very impressed.
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  3. June 30, 2015 / 8:14 pm

    Great post, Eva. I saw two young girls changing a tyre on the side of the road the other day and I wondered to myself if push came to shove whether or not I could change my own tyre. I think it’s about time I learnt how to do it 🙂 Thanks Eva’s Garage 🙂
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  4. July 1, 2015 / 8:33 am

    I’ve never changed a tyre either, much to my Dads dismay and Hubby’s amusement.. However, that’s what RACQ is for! I do know how to put air in my tyres & check my oil however as that was something I had to do regularly with my first car. Good post 🙂
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  5. March 6, 2016 / 12:36 pm

    I am wondering whether or not I should change my tires. Thanks to your post, I think it is time for me to change the new one. What is more, Your Mr. G’s tyre changing tips will help me very much in this working, Eva Lewis. Thank you for your sharing!

  6. October 6, 2016 / 7:47 pm

    Really excellent post Eva, I think more people need to understand the problems and extra wear that can occur with badly aligned tyres and they only find out when they get a flat or god forbid a full blow out at speed! From experience I can tell you that’s something you never want to go through!

    Keep up the great posts! Very well written and easy to read! Thank you!

  7. December 21, 2016 / 5:44 am

    Great basic advice for anyone to follow. It’s good to know a few basic things so you can do some process of elimination if you are ever having car troubles. Thanks for sharing!
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  8. March 11, 2017 / 12:56 am

    Believe it or not, wiper blades are the third highest reason for a car failing an MOT in the UK. The first thing to do is to check your blades are clearing the screen adequately to provide clear vision. Remember no need to get your wiper blades replaced at a garage, they are simple enough to do yourself.
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