Look, there’s no shame in not knowing everything about cars. I sure don’t, and claiming to know everything only proves that you don’t. Still, as a discerning owner, enthusiast, or even basic user of automobiles, there are certain things you should absolutely know how to do. No excuses.
I’m going to start with the easy ones, like how to spot a cop, and then work my way into more advanced knowledge! Let’s go!
How To Spot Cop Cars
There are speed traps all over the country, with officers setting up shop roadside, hoping to deter speeding, and catch those breaking the law. Be able to spot a cop. Lots of cops are still sporting the Ford Crown Vic, Chevy Impala, and Dodge Charger sedans. Know these cars, and know their headlights for night driving.
As for unmarked? Usually they’ll be dark-colored cars, they will still have an antennae or two, maybe have a hand light, and won’t have hubcaps or wheel covers. Sometimes unmarked cops will have built-in grille lights, those are a lot harder to see though. Sometimes they’ll have spot lights, or municipal license plates too.
How To Recover From A Spin
This really should be a requirement before you get your driver’s license. I’m not talking about some book telling you to turn into the slide and keep your eyes where you want the car to end up, not what you’re afraid you’ll hit.
I mean actually knowing how to do it, using real-world experience in a relatively safe environment. If you’ve never done it, go somewhere safe and learn.
Know Your Chassis And Engine Codes
In my garage, I have an E30 with its original M20B25, and an F22 with an N20B20. Why does that matter? It doesn’t any more than you knowing what model of iPhone you have, or what version of iOS it’s currently running.
Simply put, it’s a form of coded communication that lets you know someone is an enthusiast, not just a regular person with a nice car.
Accomplish Anything With Zip Ties
There are many universal facts that bond car people together, but chief among them is a complete mastery of the modern marvel known as the zip tie.
You can make wire separators, handcuffs or brackets. Really, there’s no limit to what a creative mind can do with them.
How To Change Your Own Oil
Raise of hands, how many of you can change your own oil? Is it absolutely a requirement that you change your car’s oil yourself every single time? No, but when you go to a quick-lube place, you run the risk that they’ll screw something up.
Get a cheap pair of ramps and do it yourself, unless you’ve got one of those uptight parking lot security guards staring you down the whole time.
Usually those warners don’t show low oil until you are very low on oil. And remember, this is the most important, because if you run out of oil while driving, you’re pretty much f***ed. So many people damage their engines because, by the time the warning light comes on, it’s usually to late.
To add to that, get a torque wrench! You can’t estimate the tightness accurately by hand.
How To Jump Start A Car Battery
This takes 5 minutes to memorize and $10 dollars for some jumper cables, but it’ll save you a ton of headaches!
Always keep a pair of jumper cables in your trunk. You never know when they’ll come in handy. Turn off both cars. Start with the dead battery. Put a red clamp on the positive terminal of the dead battery. Attach the other red clamp to the positive terminal of the live battery, and the black clamp to the negative terminal of the live battery. Then attach the final black clamp to an unpainted metal surface on the dead car’s engine block.
Turn on the live car, and then try to jump start the dead car. Run the dead car for at least half an hour to charge the battery back up.
Jacking Up Your Car
There’s a good way and a bad way to jack up your car. Putting a jack under your oil pan, for example, is an excellent way to transfer all of the oil from your engine to the floor of your garage before you replace, well, your oil pan.
There are several areas where it’s best to put a jack, but if you’re unsure, consult your owner’s manual. It’ll tell you the best spot for your specific car.
Then it goes without saying, you should know how to change a tire! The simple fact is that run-flat tires are making the very existence of spare tires more and more rare in today’s world. That’s no excuse to not know how to jack up your car and change a tire.
How To Check Tire Pressure
Driving with over or under inflated tires is a dangerous and unnecessary hazard. Buy a tire-pressure gauge, quickly press it onto the inflation nipple, and see how much pressure it reads.
Every car should have a warning inside the driver-side door that lists the optimum pressure for the front and rear tires. This is an easy way to maximize fuel economy too. The trees will thank you.
Get A Good Mechanic
Get a good mechanic. A skilled, honest-to-goodness mechanic is hard to come by, but if you find one, then hang on to them tightly.
Ask friends and family for recommendations, read through car forums, and go through car mechanic reviews. Don’t pick the first one you come across just because they give you the cheapest rates.
Take your time here. You’re putting your car’s safety and performance into their hands, so make sure they’re good at what they’re doing.
Learn How To Drive A Stick
It happens. You’re the only sober one, and everyone is counting on you to drive the five-speed party wagon home. It pays to know how to operate a clutch. Plus, girls dig guys who can put in that work.
What To Keep In The Glove Box
How To Parallel Park
You probably haven’t done this since driver’s ed.
Pull alongside the car ahead of your desired empty spot. Carefully reverse backward, and slowly cut the steering wheel to the right about halfway down the midsection of the other car. Keep backing up slowly, and cut the wheel back to the left when you feel that you have enough room between you and the car ahead. Once you’re in, adjust forward or back to give yourself even spacing between both cars.
Always Pass On The Left
Nobody likes the left lane Prius! Nobody! Don’t be that guy.
On the highway or a multi-lane road, always pass on the left side of the car ahead. Obviously, this is different for countries that have different driving patterns. ‘Merica!
Learn To Change Headlights And Taillights
Even if you’re not mechanically inclined, learn to work on your car yourself!
If you have a few crescent wrenches, this won’t be too hard to do. Buy a pair of headlights or taillights and read the directions on the back of the box. You should replace both at the same time to ensure equal brightness. Each car is different, but aside from a few nuts and fasteners, it can be done in about 10 minutes.
How To Restore Headlight Lenses
Headlights will yellow with age. Luckily, it’s super easy to fix that!
Luckily, we have an Ideal video on how to do just that! Check it out!
Replace Wiper Blades
While talking about replacement parts, learn how to replace windshield wipers. Nothing is worse than being caught in a storm and having your wiper blades not work very well.
One of my favorite things is to use Rain X, it’s like magic!