Nothing makes me feel like a can-do woman like working on my car. When I say working, I mean the little stuff, like jumping my roommates car when her battery dies, or knowing how to plug in a new lightbulb when my third brake light goes out. There’s something about getting hands on with all those tons of steel that scratches my DIY itch in a whole new way. My best friend in this car fixing expedition is YouTube. It hosts a wealth of videos that show how to fix everything, including cars. I’m not ready to mess with brake pads, but here are a few things beyond filling my tires with air that I’ve easily mastered with the help of YouTube. You can too!
1. Jump a car battery: Don’t wait for AAA to arrive! Next time your (or your roommate’s) battery dies, jump it yourself. All you need is a pair of jumper cables (good to keep in your trunk) and a working car. Check out this video for a simple explanation of how to do it:
2. Change the cabin air filter: I was shocked when I went poking around behind my glove box and found a soot black air filter that looked like it had never been changed. The cost to pop down to my local Pep Boys (or other auto parts store) for a new filter was less than half the price of paying someone to change it. And it was super cool to see the guts of my car that hide behind the glove box. Read step-by-step instructions here.
3. Change headlights and tail lights: the bulbs are cheap! Pick up a couple headlight bulbs at your local dealer (my car is a Civic, so I go to the Honda dealership) for about $4 apiece. Look in your owner’s manual or watch a video for the explanation on how to change the bulbs. Car and Driver Magazine has a great YouTube channel with helpful videos. Here’s one of them:
4. Check your tire treads: I used to go to Firestone to get my oil changed and then freak out when they would exaggerate how imminently my car needed new tires. BUT. Now I can debunk their sales ploys using only… a PENNY! Hold a penny so that Lincoln is upside down, then stick the penny between your car’s tire treads. If the treads cover any part of Lincoln’s head, you’re good to go. If not, it’s time for new tires. Read more on the penny test here.
Learning how to care for my car has been really freeing. Cars are something that many of us depend on every day to live, to go to work and get groceries. I like taking responsibility for something I rely on so heavily, even if I know/knew next to nothing about it. Part of this journey has been getting comfortable asking a lot of questions, and the people who fix cars (they know their stuff!) have always been helpful. I want my car to last a long time and continue to carry me on my adventures, and caring for it properly is a big part of that.
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