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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 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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