This is a continuation of the “what they didn’t teach you in high school” series. It really is a shame that, even if you did take Home EC or a Family and Consumer Science class, you didn’t get taught about basic vehicle maintenance. It doesn’t matter your gender or age, if you’re old enough to drive, you should know these things. Here is an easy, step by step tutorial on each of these tasks.

Jump a vehicle:

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1) always keep a pair of jumper cables in your car or truck. The 25 ft ones are better than 15 ft, just because you never know how far you’ll need to make them work. Sometimes you can’t park power vehicle directly ahead of you. Check them to insure they aren’t cut open or damaged before using them.
2) Have someone with a running vehicle park their vehicle directly in front of your beside yours, front bumper to front bumper.
3) have both vehicles’ engines shut off, and make sure the dead vehicle doesn’t have headlights, cigarette plugins, or other interior lights on.
4) open both hoods, and locate your batteries. If you’ve got a diesel, just use the closest battery (regardless of if its the jumper truck or the dead truck).
5) first connect the red (+) cable clamp to the battery of the working vehicle’s red (+) battery terminal post. If the post has corrosion (a crusty, dis colored layer on the post), twist the clamp a little for better contact. Do this step for any of the terminal posts showing signs of corrosion.
6) on the next vehicle (the dead one) clamp the red (+) cable, to the terminal.
7) now attach the black (-) cables. First the working car battery, then the dead one.
8) check to make sure the cables aren’t going to get in the way of any moving parts, such as the fan, belts, or down near the engine
9) start the working vehicle
10) wait at least 60 seconds before attempting to start the dead vehicle. If the dead vehicle doesn’t start within 3 minutes, you probably have a bigger problem. A dead semi, (in my experience at least) always starts within 10 minutes of charging.
11) after the dead vehicle starts, you can keep them hooked together a minute or two more if you’d like, but you don’t have to
12) to remove the cables, first remove the black (-) cables, then the red (+) cables. Neatly & loosely wrap your cables back up and place them back in your trunk or behind your truck seat.
13) do not shut off the once dead car! Keep it running at least 30 minutes, or better yet, drive it for 30 minutes, this lets the batteries recharge so you don’t get stranded again.
14) if your vehicle doesn’t start, you’ve got a bigger problem. Your battery harness may be damaged, your battery could be bad, or your starter may be have quit on you. Also, check to make sure your battery is correctly hooked up, and the battery harness hasn’t become loose or corroded on the battery terminals. You can try adjusting this yourself, or call someone who is more mechanically inclined. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

How to check your oil:

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1) every vehicle is different, so know where your oil dipstick is. This is the flexible metal rod that is typically near a cap that reads “oil”. The dipstick runs down into your oil pan & lets you check how much oil your vehicle has left. If you’re having difficulty locating this, check your owner’s manual.
2) Have the vehicle running until the engine is hot (can blow warm air in the cab) prior to checking the oil. Shut the engine off on level ground & open the hood to your vehicle. Wait 3-5 minutes before checking the oil
3) Pull the dipstick straight out. Try to avoid bending the dipstick too much as you’re pulling it out, because it can flip oil on you & stain your clothes and skin.
4) you should see oil on the bottom of the stick. Wipe that off with a dry, clean rag, or a tissue or even a green leaf if you have to. Take note of where the minimum and maximum fill lines are. If you’re left handed like me, it’s on the back of the dipstick.
5) push the dipstick all the way back into the hole, until it’s back to the way you found it.
6) remove the dipstick again, and see where the oil level is, is it between the two lines?
7) also, inspect the color of the oil. It should be a yellowish, shiny, ‘clean’ and partially transparent. If it’s black, chunky, or smells rotten, it should be changed immediately.
8) if you need to add oil, see what type your vehicle runs. Different engines require different oils.
9) to add oil, remove the oil cap, and pour the oil through a funnel into the opening. Start with a half quart, and keep adding as needed. Check your dipstick to see where this puts you, and act accordingly. DO NOT FILL PAST THE MAXIMUM LINE.
10) when you’re finished, push your dipstick back in place, tightly screw your oil cap back on, and shut the hood. Regularly check your oil every couple of days, and keep a quart or two of oil in your vehicle at all times.

How to change a tire:

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1) pull over to a safe area along the road, flip on your hazard lights, and be mindful of traffic. If you have a passenger, make sure they spot oncoming, potentially dangerous traffic so you have a chance to move.
2) use a wrench to loosen the lug nuts a little, if you don’t see them, that means you have a plastic simulator covering them. This either twists off, or can be popped off using a flathead screw driver.
3) Jack your vehicle up with a jack. Place the jack under the frame, not a bumper, and not the undercarriage or your vehicle.
4) don’t have a jack? It’s not recommended, but you can pull up onto a sidewalk, and let the flat tire hang off where wheel chair accessible recession ramps are. This has been done with horse trailers as well. Make sure the wheel is completely suspended. If you have to use this method.
5) remove the lug nuts completely, pull the tire off, and place the spare onto the posts that the lug nuts screw onto.
6) when you put your lug nuts back on, you can put them on in any order, but don’t tighten them this way
7) when you tighten the lug nuts, refer to this chart:

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8) replace your simulators if you had them, lower your Jack, and put it and your flat tire away. Do not leave this along the side of the road!

Thats it for today! What else did you not learn in high school, but wish you had? What else should be added to this list? And as always, thanks for reading! 

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