Driving instructors teach you how to drive but they don’t necessarily teach you all the things you should know about cars. Whether you have just turned 17 or have been taking full advantage of your friends and family who drive, there is a different way of thinking that should come with your new driver status.
Here are six car-related questions that you need to know the answers to in order to stay safe on the roads and your car running for longer.
How to change a flat tyre
This is a skill that every driver should know. Ensuring that your car is parked somewhere safe and on a flat surface, you will need a jack, lug wrench and spare tyre. Loosen the flat tyre’s lug nuts using the lug wrench and place your jack underneath the car. Raise the car with your jack until it sits at a height that allows you to remove the tyre and then mount your spare tyre on the lug bolts. Finally, lower your car using the jack and tighten your lug nuts. Follow this video guide and learn the ropes.
How to check the engine oil
It is very important that you know how to check your car’s engine oil, at least once a month. This ensures that there is a sufficient amount in your car and that it is non-contaminated. You need to remove the dipstick, which is located on your engine block, and wipe it onto a clean cloth. You should examine the colour and quality of the oil. Give it a smell and if it smells of gas or looks dirty, this is an indication that you need to change the oil. Put the dipstick back into the pipe and then pull it out again to check the oil levels. If it has fallen below the minimum mark, add more oil.
How to check your tyre pressure
It is extremely dangerous to drive on under or overinflated tyres. By having a pressure gauge, you can keep track of your tyre pressure. All you need to do is remove the valve cap and put the gauge into the valve stem – the digital gauge will read the tyre pressure instantly. Air pressure for typical tyres should be between 30 to 35, but it is always a good idea to check your car manual to see the recommended amount of pressure. You can buy a digital gauge from somewhere like Amazon or Homebase.
How to jump start a car
It is a good idea to always store a pair of jump lead cables in your car because you never know when you might need them. To jump start a car, you need two cars. They both need to be parked close enough to one another so that the cables can comfortably fit between. Attach the red clamp to the positive terminal (+) of the flat battery and the other positive terminal (+) to the battery that is live. You then need to attach the black clamp to the dead batteries steal surface on the engine block. You can now try and jump start the car by turning on the live vehicle and leaving the engine to run for a few minutes. Once done, remove the clamps and you’re good to go.
How to tax and insure your car
You must tax and insure your car: if you are caught without either of these the police can issue you with a penalty and points on your license. To insure your car, you need to fill out an application form with your chosen provider and answer all the questions honestly, or it could affect your insurance if you have to make a claim. Always make sure you are applying for a policy that has the right level of cover and features that you need. There are four main types of car insurance you can go for:
- Telematics – This type of insurance involves a black box being fitted to your car, to calculate your premium based on your standard of driving.
- Third party only – This is the minimum level of cover required by law, covering you for liability for injury to others, damage to third party property and liability whilst towing a caravan or trailer.
- Third party fire and theft – This covers everything that third party does, as well as fire damage, theft of vehicle and damage to your car caused during theft.
- Comprehensive – This provides you with the most extensive level of cover, including loss or damage, windscreen cover, personal effects, accidental damage and medical expenses.
Taxing your car can be done using the government’s vehicle enquiry service. You should get a V11 reminder letter to tell you your car tax is up for renewal but if you don’t have one, use your VSC in your log book. If you have just bought the car and don’t have a log book yet, you should have a number on your V5C/2 supplement that was given to you by the previous owner.
How to drive safety in rain and snow
If on your driving lessons you have never driven in bad weather conditions, it can come at a bit of a shock when you do. Keep your speed reduced at all times and leave more room between you and the car in front: estimate two car lengths. Your car might hydroplane in puddles, so you need to learn how to drive with reduced traction and increased visibility. Try and practice driving off the road, such as in car parks, in bad weather conditions to get some practice in.
We hope these answers can help towards making you feel safe and prepared when driving, and get you on the road with no issues.