If you are less than confident with how much you know about your car and what you’re capable of doing in the case of an emergency, the New Year is the perfect opportunity to resolve to change that. Do you have a basic supplies kit ready to go? Have you scheduled or know what should be scheduled for regular car maintenance? One other resolution to make is to research cheap auto insurance so you know you’re getting the best policy at an inexpensive cost, while fortifying your budget for the year to come.
Have an Emergency Kit in the Car
While there are plenty of options to choose from that you can purchase, it’s just as easy and less expensive to put an emergency kit together on your own. Yes, it will take up some space in your car (keep it in the trunk) but you will be very happy it’s there if an emergency strikes. What you should include:
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Drinking water
- Small snow shovel/snow brush
- Jumper cables
- Roadside flares and hazard triangles
- Non-perishable snacks
- Reflective vest
- Blanket and/or coat, mittens, hat, scarf
Learn How to Jump Start Your Car
It seems rather simple, doesn’t it, when someone else comes along and jump starts your car. You think, “That isn’t so difficult,” and really, it isn’t. If you’re in a hurry to get somewhere and you find yourself with a dead battery, knowing how to jump start your car could be a real lifesaver. And, the knowledge will come in handy, too, when somebody else needs help.
Learn What the Dashboard Lights Mean
The warning lights on the dashboard are there for a reason, and if you ignore them you could be looking at costly repairs in the future, and zero mobility. Here’s a quick rundown on what some of those lights may indicate:
- Battery: You’re looking at a faulty alternator or some other electrical issue
- Oil: There’s an issue with the oil level, oil pressure or both
- Engine: Your vehicle could be due for service or there is an issue with the engine (needs to be looked at promptly).
- Thermometer: This is the engine temperature indicator, there’s likely not enough coolant the existing coolant is running hot.
- ABS: The anti-lock brakes are malfunctioning and you run the risk of the wheels locking up while braking.
- Seatbelt: It’s a law in nearly every state (New Hampshire doesn’t require it) but it’s still a good idea to buckle up. This light is a reminder to do so.
Learn How to Use a Gas Can
If you own a car, chances are good that at some point, you’ve run out of gas. While you can certainly call AAA or a friend to bring you gas, you might be in walking distance to a gas station and can do it yourself. Learn how to fill the gas can and how to put the gas in your tank. If you own a lawn mower, you’ll be using this knowledge to fill the mower, too. Remember, gas is highly flammable so always use the utmost caution.
How to Fix a Tire Puncture
You can be the safest driver in the world, but that isn’t going to stop that errant nail from entering your tire. Learn how to fix your tire first by acquiring the right kit that is designed to help you do this. You’re looking for a kit that includes a rasp tool, insertion needle, and tire plugs. You might also use a screwdriver to loosen the nail and pulling it out with pliers.
Remember, just because you have patched the hole doesn’t mean the tire is safe for consistent use. Patching is usually a short-term solution.
Create a Road Trip Checklist
Long before you even head out for your road trip you can vow to create a checklist so you know your car is road-trip-ready.
- Check the heating and air conditioning system
- Check the fluid levels
- Check the engine oil and the air filter
- Inspect the tires for undue wear
- Test the car battery
- Check the wipers and the lights
- Clean the car both inside and out
- Check the brakes
Pay Attention to Bad Car Smells
It could be the coffee with milk you spilled the other day (it’s a good idea to clean spills immediately) or a bad smell could indicate something seriously wrong with the car.
- Rotten Eggs. The smell of sulfur indicates an issue with the fuel system.
- Vinegar. Mold in the air vents or a problem with the AC motor.
- Gas. Could be a loose gas cap or a leak in the car’s emission control system.
- Burning Rubber. A worn out drive belt or a loose rubber hose or belt.
Vowing to be more attentive to your car in the New Year will keep you on top of issues before they become costly repairs.