5 Car Must-Knows for Every Girl

Liberation comes at a cost. Long gone are the days when a woman could rely on a man for anything that involved the family car from pumping gas to fixing a flat to changing the oil. Although there are services that you can call to fix or repair just about anything, there will indeed come a time when calling roadside service is simply not an option.

Pumping Gas

Believe it or not, there are still a few women who don’t know how to pump gas and have had no reason to learn. Their husbands have kept the gas tank full.

photo courtesy of Ramzi Hashisho

If she’s ever out and about with the need for a refill, he’s right there with her to pump and pay. It sounds sweet and romantic, but not at all practical anymore. Maybe 50 years ago, but not today.

Newer cars have made the process of pumping gas a little bit more complicated than it used to be. Now there’s a release button just to open the gas latch. Sometimes it’s on the left of the steering wheel, sometimes it’s on the right and sometimes it’s close to the floor, between the door and the seat. You’ll need to choose the right octane for your vehicle. Using a lower octane than needed for your engine could spell trouble later. You can find your octane requirement listed in your owner’s manual. Some models even have the information printed inside the gas latch. Stay put while refueling to monitor any pump malfunctions like overfilling. When removing the gas nozzle, wait a few seconds then remove the nozzle carefully to avoid dripping fuel on your Jimmy Choo’s or Steve Madden’s. Did you know gas pumps are one of the filthiest surfaces we touch. Keep antibacterial hand wipes in your car to disinfect your hands and ward off the dreaded gas smell.

Engine Oil

A bottle of engine oil may cost you one dollar these days. It may be easy to write it off as insignificant, but your engine oil is like your car’s blood supply. One missed oil change or bad oil leak can cost hundreds down the road. Always have your oil checked when you visit a mechanic for anything. It’s never

photo courtesy of Ana Labate

a bad time to check your oil. Under your hood you’ll find what’s called a dipstick. While it may have a silly name, it’s not a silly part of your car. The dipstick should be read while your car is running. There’s also a trick to it. You can’t just pull it out to see where the oil level is on the stick. You have to pull it out, wipe it off on a a lint and debris-free cloth then dip it back into the oil to get an accurate reading. When refilling your oil on your own, remember not to pour the oil in the same reservoir where you check the oil. It doesn’t go there! There’s an oil cap which needs to be removed first. If you find that your oil is low on a regular basis, it may be a good idea to have a mechanic check for leaks. Oil leaks are common in older cars, and are easily fixed if you don’t let them go too far.

Tires

Tires to a car are like legs to a runner. You must take care of them and know when and how to maintain them. Tire pressure is essential to overall car performance and gas mileage. Your tires naturally lose tire pressure over time, so check them monthly. If you think you’ll forget, do it at the same time that you do other monthly checks: like when you do a self breast exam.

photo courtesy of Doug Darby

You can call it your “overall wellness check day” for you and your car. You’ll want to have a tire pressure gauge handy. Any auto supply store will carry a pocket-sized tire pressure gauge for just a few dollars. Check your owner’s manual for the appropriate tire pressure reading is for your size car. If you have your car serviced regularly by a professional, you may be able to get away with not checking your tires as often. You should, at the very least, take a look at your tires weekly. If you notice any inconsistencies, you can go to a gas station and add air. This is when the tire pressure gauge will come in handy.

Antifreeze

It’s easy to remember antifreeze. It’s the green stuff that looks like liquid kryptonite. More importantly, it keeps your car from overheating which can be a dangerous problem.Antifreeze goes in your radiator and helps to keep your engine at an optimal temperature.

photo courtesy of Colin Brough

If your antifreeze is low and you aren’t on your way to a mechanic, you can purchase some from most any gas station or convenience store. Unless you have a steady hand and good aim, you may want to grab a funnel while you’re at it. It’s easy to refill your radiator with antifreeze. In most, if not all, cars the radiator is right in the front, close to the grill of your car. It is absolutely essential that you do not try to remove the radiator cap while the car is hot. Doing so could cause a great deal of bodily harm. Let your car cool off first. Even when you do remove the cap, it’s a good practice to cover it with a towel or other thick cloth and remove it slowly. Once the cap is off, pour the antifreeze in and you are set. Depending on your levels, your radiator may take the whole bottle. That’s perfectly normal but you should still get to a mechanic as soon as possible to be sure that you don’t have a leak.

Jump Starts

Jumper cables are a must in the trunk of every car. You never know when your battery will simply stop working. Just in case you don’t have an emergency starter in your car, you’ll want to know how to use jumper cables.

It can be intimidating when your car won’t start but if you remember a few simple steps, you’ll be fine.

  • Find someone with a charged battery who is willing to help. This shouldn’t be hard to do.
  • Have them park their car either directly in front of your car (headlights to headlights) or right next to it if possible.  Be sure the batteriesare close enough to each other to connect the cables without stretching too far.
  • Turn ignition in both cars to the OFF position.
  • Identify the positive/negative sides of each battery.
  • Attach the RED cable to the (+) side of the good battery.
  • Attach the other end of the RED cable to the (+) side of the dead battery.
  • Attach the BLACK cable to the (-) side of the good battery.
  • Attach the other end of the BLACK cable to an unpainted section of metal on the dead car.  It doesn’t matter where, just as long as it’s metal.
  • Start the engine on the car with the good battery.
  • From here on out, you should be in the clear. After the car with the good battery has run for about 30-45 seconds you should be able to start the car with the recharged battery. The cables can now be detached. No special order is required to remove them – just don’t let any of the cables touch the car or each other while any portion of the cables is still connected to a battery. You could do serious damage to both cars.

    photo courtesy of Valerij Zhugan

    Overall, you should have a basic understanding of what goes on under the hood of your car as you won’t always be able to rely on your knight-in-shining-armor to save you. It’s important for you to know whether your car’s issue is serious or easily repaired.

    You may need these DIY solutions while you’re out and about, but it’s also a good idea to have a roadside service plan with AAA or a similar company.

    Happy driving, and be safe out there!

    Rabiah Smith is inspired by an active imagination combined with a spirit of curiosity…read more

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    10 thoughts on “5 Car Must-Knows for Every Girl

    1. This is a very good article which alot of women need. You should know these things for yourself not depending on others to know it for you.

      Thank you.

      Could use more of these type of articles.

    2. doubleclicklife

      Thanks, Irene. We’re hoping this will be a good resource for women who spend time on the road, but aren’t sure of some of the technical pitfalls involved with car maintenance.

    3. Battle

      This is a great article especially for young women and even young men who are not familar with the basic car knowledge. These skills are not taught in schools so you have to depend on a friend or relative. Cars these days are so computer oriented but good basic overall skill can give you confidence.

    4. Joe Hart

      Very good info, a few things need to be tweeked. I get back to you on that
      Joe

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