If, like me, your knowledge of cars is limited to physically getting in and driving from A to B, don’t fret – I’m about to give you a crash course in car maintenance because everyone should know the basics by now.
Getting a lesson about cars from someone who just admitted to knowing nothing about them, what could possibly go wrong?
To really rub salt in the wounds, I plan on explaining car maintenance to you like you’re a five-year-old because being condescending is fun and frankly, I don’t have enough faith in you to talk to you like an adult.
Alternatively, get advice on how to check your car from actual experts by heading to www.supercheapauto.com.au/checkit.
For everyone else, let’s get to it.
First up, the tyres. You’ll usually find them on the bottom of the car and they’re pretty important. For wheels to work, they need to have air in them. Like balloons, air doesn’t stay in wheels forever, so you’ll occasionally have to pump them up so they’re big and hard again. Check the pressure about once a month.
If your mum or dad doesn’t have a device handy, you march yourself down to the servo and use their free air. Honestly, free air. I love Australia.
Unscrew each of the caps on the wheels (they’re the little black pointy knobs sticking out), chuck on the air pump and make sure you’re wary of how much air should be going in -there’s a handy placard on the inside of the driver side door that will tell you what air pressures your tyres should be.
SUPER IMPORTANT: Screw the caps back on when you’re finished pumping away. Remember: righty tighty, lefty loosey.
COOLANT, BRAKES, POWER STEERING & WIPER FLUID
In a nutshell, the coolant in your car keeps your car…cool. Just as people drink water on hot days so they don’t get too hot and die, cars drink coolant so they also don’t overheat and die – humans and cars are basically the same.
Now, to find your coolant, pop the hood and poke your little head in. It’s usually next to the radiator and will have a ‘minimum/maximum’ label on the side. Run and get the nearest adult to help you if you get stuck. When you do find it, make sure it’s above that ‘minimum’ line.
If the coolant level is low, don’t touch anything unless that engine is cool. Touching hot surfaces is bad for your hands and that’s how you get ouchies. If everything’s cool then pour some more in there but make sure you don’t fill it up too much. Once that bad boy’s sorted, check the brakes and power steering fluid which are also conveniently labelled, as well as the wiper fluid. Fill any of ’em up if they need (if the engine’s cool) and you’re good to go.
Windscreen wipers are like worker bees who make sure you can see the road when it’s raining. But, like worker bees, windscreen wipers can get tired and worn out, so you have to do something about it if you want to keep seeing where you’re driving.
While worker bees can simply take a power nap, windscreen wipers have to be replaced because no amount of napping is gonna make the rubber that moves the rain out of the way reappear. So, when you start to notice that the wipers are struggling to get that pesky water out of the way, head into your nearest Supercheap Auto and ask one of the team to help you find the wipers you’ll need and they’ll even fit them for you. Absolute 11/10 service right there.
BRAKE & TAIL LIGHTS
I think almost all of us have been guilty of cruising around with a broken tail light – I mean, it is pretty tricky to see all of your lights while you’re sitting in the car. What an absolute pickle.
Thankfully, there’s an easy fix to check your indicators are working – your hazard lights. You know those lights you use when you’ve broken down in the middle of the highway and you’re trying to let other drivers know that your car’s not working and you’d rather not get absolutely cleaned up? Yeah, those hazard lights.
So, park your car and chuck on the hazards. Then it’s just a matter of circling the car on the hunt for any dead lights and switching them out with some freshies that someone who’s actually responsible prepared for you earlier.
For the brake lights and headlights, a quick way to check these is in a dark garage and you can use the reflections on the walls to check they are working. No garage? Then you’ll need to make a friend to help.
HOT TIP: Make sure you have someone in your life who’s willing to do the work for you, that way you can just tell them the problems with your car and they’ll have it sorted in a jiffy. Family work great for this because they have to help you by law (well like, my own law that I made up but it’s definitely legit).
CHANGING THE OIL
I can tell this one’s gonna go straight over your head because oil is tricky and frankly having to explain everything to you is exhausting, so here’s a handy tutorial video for all of you ‘visual’ learners out there:
Got it? Great.
If my A+ tutorial has failed to give you any confidence to start doing your own car maintenance (absolute lost cause if true), you can head to Supercheap Auto’s Check It Day on March 30th and hopefully they might be more successful in showing you how to do a safety check on your car. Might.Image: Instagram / @nickiminaj