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5 Breakdown Tips Every Driver Should Know

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Matthias Rip via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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Simplify

I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

Absolutely.

And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

Be Mindful

You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

Reflect

As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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