Basic Car Equipment Knowledge Every Car Owner Should Have

Your car needs regular maintenance to keep it as good as new. Naturally, your car degrades with time. A well-maintained car will minimize any possible problems that might arise on the road. That being said, it doesn’t guarantee you complete immunity from trouble. There can always be overlooked things or events that can break down your car. This is why you need to prepare yourself with the necessary equipment for such emergency cases. However, all of that preparation goes in vain if you don’t know how to use them properly. Relying on strangers or a rescue team for help in a sparsely populated area is not a good idea. Therefore, every good driver has the basic car equipment knowledge to get themselves out of trouble.

Spare tire

A common piece of advice shared amongst car users is to carry a spare tire. While the possibility of getting a flat tire might be very slim, you still don’t want to be stranded in the middle of the road waiting for help. Worse yet, you could get stuck in a rural or an isolated area. Assuming you have the right kind of tire and the required toolkit, you can change the tire yourself. Use a jack lift to lift the vehicle to remove the tire safely and comfortably. Next, use a tire iron or lug wrench to unscrew the lug nuts on the wheel’s rim. Remove the tire and replace it with a spare one. Reinstall the lug nuts back into place and make sure the new tire. Lower your vehicle again, and you’re good to go.

Brake pads

If your brakes feel off – like slipping or responding a bit slowly, you need to change your brake pads. The first part is awfully similar to changing the tire. So lift the car, unscrew the lug nuts and remove the tire. This will reveal the rotor where the brake pads are located beneath the caliper. Now, unscrew the bolt with a breaker bar so you can lift the caliper to reveal the brake pads. Remove the brake pads and lubricate the ends of the brake caliper bracket with a copper-based anti-seize. This will allow brake pads to slide easily while in operation. Now, put in the new brake pads that will slide right in. But, make sure they don’t get any anti-seize because this can make them less responsive. Then, lower the caliper and reinstall the bolt and the tires.

Tire pressure gauge

Adjusting your tire pressure correctly can optimize traction and fuel efficiency.  Refer to your owner’s manual to see how much pressure is appropriate for your car’s tires. First, take the cap off the valve on the wheel rim and firmly insert the tire pressure gauge on the valve. This will present you with a reading of your tire pressure in PSI. If the reading doesn’t match the recommended pressure value, then use an air compressor. Put it in the valve and pump the air a little at a time and keep checking the tire pressure. If you let too much air in, use the back of your pressure gauge to let some air out. Finally, repeat this process for all the other tires, including your spare one.

Jumper cable

Suppose you couldn’t start your car due to a dead battery. Jumper cables are convenient when your battery is out of power, and your car needs that small burst of energy just enough to reach a nearby repair center. The positive and negative terminals of a jumper cable are color-coded – red is positive, and black is negative. You need another car with a good battery to jump-start your car. Open the hood of both cars. Attach the red lead to your dead battery’s positive end to another healthy battery’s positive end. Then attach the black lead to the negative end of the healthy battery to a ground spot like a metal hook or a piece of bare metal within the hood of your car that isn’t near wires or anything flammable. DO NOT CONNECT BLACK LEAD FROM THE NEGATIVE END OF HEALTHY BATTERY TO THE DEAD BATTERY. Connecting black lead incorrectly can ignite sparks and cause explosions, so be careful in this step. Finally, start the car with a healthy battery and let it run to recharge your dead battery for a while. Disconnect the wires in reverse order. Beware not to let the leads touch a part of your car or each other while doing this; otherwise, it can ignite sparks.

Air Filter

Air filters prevent any dust particles and debris from reaching your car’s engine to ensure the engine gets good clean air for combustion. Open the hood and locate the air filter compartment. It’s a box connected to the engine through a large tube, so it’s fairly easy to find. You can refer to your owner’s manual. Removing the cover is fairly simple, so undo the screws with a screwdriver or undo the clips. Remove the old air filter and vacuum the compartment if it looks dirty. Place a new air filter and make sure the outer seal sits firmly in the compartment. Now redo the screws and clips, and the process is complete.

Spark plug

Spark plugs are necessary for petrol combustion engines to combust the air-fuel mixture and produce power. Like any other part of your car, spark plugs can wear out over time and need replacement. Disconnect the wires connected to the spark plug on your engine to start the replacement process. Use a spark plug socket and socket wrench to remove the old spark plug. Check your owner’s manual to see what kind of spark plugs, gaps and torque specifications are suitable for your car. Now, install a new spark plug and place it with the socket wrench and apply the proper torque with a torque wrench as per the recommendation. Then, reconnect the wire to the spark plug, and you’re done.

Wiper blades

Wiper blades are essential equipment to remove rain, snow, dirt, frost or any particles from building up on your windshield. Replacing these over time is important as they suffer through wear and tear. On the bright side, replacing wiper blades is very easy. For hook-type wiper arms, rotate it, press down on the lock tab and push downwards until the wiper blade disengages. Now slide the new wiper blade fitting onto the hook of the wiper arm and push upwards to replace it. For pin-type wiper arms, disengage the lock on the arm and pull the wiper blade away from the attached pin. Now replace it by sliding the new wiper blade onto the pin and engage the lock to keep it in place firmly. You’ll hear a clicking sound which means the wipers fit the wiper arms firmly.

Traction aid

A traction aid is a tool used to provide better traction in unfavorable terrain like snow. Lay the traction aid with the grip side sinking into the ground in front of your wheels. The key here is to place them based on your car’s drive axle, i.e., front two tires if FWD or rear two tires if RWD. Then, start your vehicle and move forward. If your car spins in place, then stop immediately and check if the traction aid is placed properly and try again.

Self-repair can help you on the road. Self-repair will also cut down on maintenance costs provided that you do it correctly. Self-repairing can be daunting, and you may be anxious at first. As long as you follow the steps correctly, there is nothing to worry about. Over time, you can build experience and grow confidence by carrying out these repairs yourself.