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5 Breakdown Tips Every Driver Should Know

5 Breakdown Tips Every Driver Should Know

Your car is one of the most important possessions you own, and so you may worry about somehow destroying your car if you do the wrong thing. Far too often, those of us who were not taught how to deal with cars in our youth never really learn, and end up taking it to a mechanic for the smallest repairs.

But fixing a car is not that frightening nor difficult, and there are all sorts of repairs which you can do with just the tools in your garage. And on top of it, there are all sorts of guides on the Internet, complete with video, which detail how to make repairs. Here are 5 repairs in particular which every person should know how to do:

1. Change a Flat Tire

The fact that 40 percent of Americans are either not very confident or clueless about their ability to change a flat tire represents some sort of failure in American society, because that is about as basic as it gets.

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The good news is that since changing a flat tire is such a basic repair, there are plenty of guides on how to do it, and all you really need is a lug wrench and a jack (in fact, I should just note now that you need a wrench for almost all of the below repairs, so get a good 6-inch adjustable wrench now). The one thing I would note from personal experience is to routinely check that your spare tire is inflated before you get a blowout. Also remember that once you have gotten the spare tire on, take your car to a mechanic immediately. You want to drive on that spare tire as little as possible.

2. Jump Start Your Car

If you live in a colder climate or left your lights on for too long, you may have jump started your battery in the past. But given how rarely you may do this, it is easy to forget what goes where.

Connect the red jumper cables on both the battery providing the charge and the dead battery. Meanwhile, connect one end of the black jumper cable to the car providing the charge, but stick the other end to another metal surface nearby.

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Above all else, safety first. Keep both cars off until the cables are connected. If your car is not jump starting after five to ten minutes, see if a bigger vehicle like a van can provide the charge instead.

3. Clean Your Battery

Your car will suffer from corrosion and rust. While that looks unsightly, corrosion can prevent the battery’s power from flowing through your engine and keep your car from starting.

The good news is that you can clean off the battery’s corrosion with common household items like baking soda or Coke (though try not to use Coke). Remove the battery cable ends and then sprinkle baking soda and water on top of the battery terminals. Baking soda, which is a base, will neutralize the battery acid. Then brush it off with a toothbrush, let the battery dry, then put petroleum jelly on top of the terminals.

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Cleaning the battery should be done once a year, but will only take a few minutes. Also check the battery itself while you are cleaning it for leaks or cracks.

4. Change Your Brake Pads

If you have already done the repairs mentioned, you may be looking to try something a bit more difficult. Even if you are not, changing your brake pads will still save you a great deal of cash compared to a mechanic. If you have ever had to brake the car really suddenly, the brake pads are what causes the squealing noise. But if you hear that noise routinely, then it may be time to switch out the pads.

Your brake pads are located behind your car, and you will need to use a jack to get your car up before you can access them. For cars with good ground clearance, like the Ford F-150, this might not be necessary. Then remove the wheel from your car, remove the bolts attached to the caliper (that is the hook-like thing attached to the brake rotor), and then slide the old brake pad out and put the new one in.

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5. Replace an Air Filter

In an internal combustion engine, the air filter prevents dust and other particles from getting into your engine. The filter should be replaced every three years, as it gets brittle with age.

Fortunately, this is one of the easiest car repairs of all, and only requires you to order a new air filter and get a screw driver. The air filter is generally a plastic box that is right next to the engine. Open the box by unscrewing it, take the old filter out, and put the new filter in. Make sure that the new filter is facing the same direction as the old filter was.

If you are looking for more details, Wikihow has an excellent guide complete with GIFs on what you should be looking for. It will take about an hour, but is a sign of a job well done.

Featured photo credit: Matthias Rip via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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