Car Maintenance 101: The Basics

Feeling prepared in the case of a flat tire or a dead battery can go a long way in easing New Driver Nerves!


Feeling prepared in the case of a flat tire or a dead battery can go a long way in easing New Driver Nerves!  Here are the basics; you can even stash this page in your glove compartment for quick reference!


Check the Oil:

Did your Check Engine light come on? DO NOT keep driving; without enough oil your engine could blow which could cost thousands. Pull over somewhere safe and use the dipstick to check it.

  1. Pull the dipstick and clean it off with a rag.
  2. Put the dipstick back and pull it again to see the oil level.
  3. If it is low, just pour more oil in—but don’t over-fill!!

How to Jump a Car

  1. RED on DEAD +
  2. RED on DONOR +

    3. BLACK on DONOR –

  1. BLACK on bare metal
  2. Start DONOR
  3. Start DEAD
  4. Remove 4-3-2-1


Low Tire Pressure: A tire gauge allows you to check your tire pressure. The recommended PSI will be located inside your door!

Changing a Tire: Your jack and spare are often hidden in a secret compartment in the back or trunk of your vehicle.

1. Find a safe space to pull over and turn on your hazard lights. Avoid changing a tire on a narrow shoulder where you are in danger of oncoming traffic!

  • Put on your parking break.

2. Use wheel wedges under the front tires if you’re changing a back tire, and under the back tires if you’re changing the front.

  • Got hubcaps? Take it off to expose the lug nuts.
  • Loosen the lug nuts before jacking up the car.
  • Check your owner’s manual to find where to position the jack underneath your car and raise the car until the tire is about 6 inches off the ground. Remember to never, EVER position any part of your body underneath a raised car!
  • Now it’s time to completely unscrew the lug nuts, remove the flat tire, and push the new tire on until the lug nuts show through the rim.

3. Tighten the lug nuts as much as you can, lower the car on the jack, and then tighten the lug nuts again.


Read the Manual! It is the Bible of your car (and can help you find that hidden jack!)

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