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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 March 24, 2021

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

1. Smart Door Locks

A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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2. Smart Kitchen Tools

Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

5. Nest Thermostat

This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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6. Smart Lighting

Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

7. Google Chromecast Ultra

Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

8. Canary

This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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