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10 Basic Car Repairs Everyone Should Know

10 Basic Car Repairs Everyone Should Know

Most of us have been driving cars since we were in our teens. For many, it’s almost impossible to imagine living without a car. In a way, they epitomize a part of our lives. But like many things, cars can fail us every once in a while.

You know the frustration of your car breaking down when you need it the most. Well, what if I told you that some of the most common reasons for car problems have easy fixes you could learn to do yourself? Here are 10 basic car repairs you should know.

1. Changing oil.

You need to regularly check and change your car’s oil to ensure smooth running of the vehicle and to prolong the lifespan of its engine. Changing your car’s oil is one of the most fundamental DIY skills you should have for car maintenance or repair. Of course, it’s a different story if the oil filter and oil drain plug of your car are very hard to reach.

Basic steps involve draining the oil by removing the oil drain plug, unscrewing the oil filter and emptying it, putting the oil filter and drain plug back, removing the oil filler hole cap, and pouring fresh oil. Nothing you can’t learn from the tons of tutorials available online!

2. Changing a flat tire.

There’s a reason “wheels” is slang for car. It’s because the tires are one of the most important parts of your vehicle. And they can go flat on you every once in a while. But changing a flat tire doesn’t have to be a big deal and could actually be a lifesaving skill to learn.

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Basic steps involve loosening the lug nuts (with a wrench), using a jack stand to lift the car off the ground, removing the lug nuts (and subsequently the tire), placing the spare tire on, wrenching the lug nuts back on, lowering the car, and finally making sure the lug nuts are tight. Simple.

3. Changing spark plugs.

Most of us know what spark plugs are and what they do. They are the tiny devices inside the cylinder that create sparks to ignite the gasoline, ultimately powering your vehicle. But they do wear out every 10,000 miles or so. The fix is actually quite easy.

The steps include: locating your spark plugs, removing the spark plug wire, removing the faulty spark plug, inserting the new spark plug in its place, and putting the wire back. You’re done! Make sure to watch a tutorial before you do it yourself.

4. Removing scratches from paint.

Scratches are the absolute worst. Even the tiniest scratches are visible from a distance and can kill the overall appearance of your metal monster. Unfortunately, it may cost you thousands to get them removed in a body shop. But you can save the money and the frustration with a simple DIY job.

The steps include: determining the depth of the scratch, lightly sanding the scratch, cleaning the area, applying rubbing compound, polishing the area with the rubbing compound, washing the area, and finally waxing the area to seal the repair. That’s it. You’ve just saved yourself a lot of money.

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5. Changing a car battery.

Car batteries tend to die on us at the most inconvenient times. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, your best bet would be to find roadside assistance and/or call a tow truck. But if you’re home and your battery shows signs that it might need replacement, the DIY replacement method is quite easy.

The steps include: removing any covers from the battery, disconnecting the negative cables, moving the clamp away from the battery post, doing the same for the positive cable clamp, removing all screws, replacing the old battery with the new one, and finally reconnecting the cable clamps. Make sure you label the cables before you remove them.

6. Replacing a headlight or taillight.

Having a broken headlight or taillight is not only inconvenient, but is actually illegal. Consequently, you need to change them as soon as they begin to fade. But why waste money on a mechanic when the DIY replacement is so easy?

The process involves: removing the screws connecting the headlight frame to the bracket, disconnecting the electrical connector, removing the faulty bulb and replacing it with a new one, plugging the connector back on, and finally replacing the frame.

Sometimes only your frame might be broken, which can be just as hazardous. You can change it following the same procedure.

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7. Replacing wipers.

Windshield wipers are one of the least-appreciated parts of your car’s safety system. Imagine what would happen if they failed on you during a heavy rain or snowfall, perhaps resulting in damage to your brand new vehicle. Faulty wiper blades need to replaced, and you need to be sure that your windshield wipers are always in perfect shape. This DIY is an easy fix.

The steps involve: lifting the wiper arm away from the windshield, depressing the small tab that allows the wiper blade to be pulled off, lining up the new wiper blade with the arm, and pushing it in tightly. Done! Make sure to follow tutorials while doing it.

8. Replacing air filters.

Air filters are one of the most overlooked parts of your car. They keep your engine free of dust and other contaminants. They are inexpensive and quite easy to replace, so keeping your car’s engine clean is another easy DIY.

The steps include: opening the hood, locating the air filter unit, removing the air filter cover, taking the air filter out and cleaning the air filter housing, inserting a new filter, and finally replacing the cover. You’re done! Make sure you change your filter once every 30,000 miles, or approximately once every year.

9. Changing brake pads.

The brakes are one of the most important elements of your vehicle for ensuring your safety while driving. Many car accidents result from brake failures, so your car’s brakes always need to be in perfect condition. Thankfully, changing the brake pads can be as easy as changing a flat tire.

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Basic steps involve loosening the lug nuts of the wheels, jacking the car up, removing the wheels, removing the slider bolts, removing the older brake pads and replacing them with new ones, and putting the slider bolts and the wheels back on securely. You should be particularly careful if you’re using replica wheels. This is another simple DIY that can save you some money!

10. Jumpstarting a car.

This is not so much a repair as it is a fundamental skill. Everyone should know how to jumpstart their own car. You wouldn’t want to have to call roadside assistance every time your car won’t start, and it’s really the easiest thing ever.

Just take your jumper cables out, put both vehicles in neutral and shut the ignition off. Now, attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery and the other to the positive terminal of the battery in the other car (the one that will start). Attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal of the battery in the other car. Attach the other end to an unpainted metal surface. Now try to start your vehicle. You’re done!

Featured photo credit: Flickr via c2.staticflickr.com

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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