Report-The six things every driver should know how to do?
Every day thousands of new cars and drivers hit Indian roads. While it is easy to learn how to handle the steering, the real test comes when the car develops a snag. Knowing how to change a flat tyre and maintain the car are some of the basic things every driver should know.
The owner's manual of any car will tell you—in the most simplistic step-by-step manner possible—how to operate everything from the seatbelts to the trunk lock. Although the average owner's manual overdoes it, that doesn't mean we can't all use an occasional refresher course in automotive common sense.
How to change a tyre?
If a tyre blows, don't try to save it or its wheel by stopping immediately. If possible, find a level, solid, well-lit surface and park, even if that means driving a mile at low speed with your hazard lights on. When you do stop, make sure the car can't roll. The parking brake should be on, and the transmission in park (in an automatic) or in gear (in a manual).
Grab the spare, lug wrench and jack. Most newer cars use scissors-type jacks that raise the car up at a predefined point on the car's structure. Information on where the tools and jacking points are is in the owner's manual. Now, lift the car using the jacking point nearest the disabled wheel so that the weight of the car is on the jack but the tyre is still in contact with the road. If there's a hubcap, that will need to be removed so the lug nuts can be accessed.
With the tyre still in contact with the road, the lug nuts should be cracked loose (counterclockwise) but not removed.
Put the spare on, and hand-tighten the lug nuts (clockwise). The car can now be lowered so the tyre is touching the ground, although the car's weight should remain on the jack. The lug nuts should then be tightened further using a star pattern (around the wheel, skipping every other lug) to ensure that they snug down evenly on the wheel.
Lower the car all the way onto the ground. Tighten the lug nuts down as snugly as possible.
How to jump-start a car?
First, make sure it's the battery that's really the problem. If the car's lights come on brightly and the starter motor churns with its usual strength, the battery is likely to be in good condition. Second, make sure you have a good set of jumper cables — robust, rubber-coated cables that can handle the amperage. Virtually all jumper cables should be colour-coded with the red clamp intended for the positive pole on the battery and the black clamp for the negative.
Ideally, the car with the bum battery and the jump car should be parked on a clean, dry surface. And they should be parked so that the cars' batteries are accessible and close enough to each other that the cables can comfortably span the space between them without being taut.
With both cars off, attach one of the red clamps to the positive (+) terminal on the battery that's presumed bad. Be careful of the other red clamp — it's now live. Then connect that other red clamp to the positive terminal on the jump car's battery. After that, one black clamp goes to the negative (-) terminal on the good battery while the other black clamp should go to an unpainted steel surface on the stalled car, to be grounded.
Start the car with the good battery. Routing the cables this way uses the battery on the live car to start the disabled car, so there is no need to wait for the dead battery to charge. Start the dead car. Remove the cables in reverse order, close the respective hoods and operate the two cars as usual.
If the electrical system in the car with the drained battery is otherwise okay, the battery should be recharged after about 15 minutes of driving. Alternatively: If the car with the dead battery has a manual transmission, there's always bump-starting the car, too. With the key turned on, the car in first gear, and the clutch pushed in, get the car rolling forward (by pushing it or by rolling down a conveniently located hill), and once up to jogging speed, quickly release the clutch. The car should jerk, and then start.
How to check tyre pressure?
Everything any car does depends on the four wheels. Making sure those tyres are properly inflated is the best way to guarantee your car performs at its best from a handling and fuel-efficiency standpoint.
To check the tyre pressure, take the gauge to each tyre, remove the valve-stem cap (and put it in your pocket so you don't lose it on the ground), press the gauge flat against the valve stem, and the gauge will read the pressure. If you hear air hissing out of the valve alongside the gauge, you don't have a complete seal and will get an
inaccurate reading. The optimal tyre reading is in the owner's manual. The proper pressure is not the maximum listed on the tyre itself; that's often far too high.
After that, it's a matter of adding air and rechecking the pressure until the tyres are at their correct inflation. Remember, it's best to measure your tyre pressure when the tyres are cold — after the car has been parked for the night is ideal. Tyres that are warm after running all day will have a higher pressure from the additional heat. Tyre pressures should be checked at least once a month.
How to check oil?
The oil in your car's engine is there to lubricate, not burn. So checking your oil is a way to determine if there's enough of the stuff aboard and if the engine has developed an appetite for it. First, look in the owner's manual and determine where the oil dipstick is. In most cars it's alongside the engine block and marked with a brightly coloured handle and an oil-can icon.
Run the car for a little while to warm the oil to normal operating temperature. Then park the car on a level surface and let it sit with the engine off for at least five or ten minutes. Open the hood, find the dipstick, and pull it out by the handle. The long shaft of metal that makes up the majority of the stick should be covered in engine oil. Wipe that off with a clean rag.
Reinsert the dipstick, and then pull it out again. At the bottom of the stick will be markings showing where the normal oil level should be. If there's oil on those markings, there is adequate quantity of oil. If it's below them, add a half a quart of oil at a time until you reach the appropriate level. If there's no oil on the stick at all, you have a problem.
Don't run your engine on a measly oil supply. Add the appropriate type of motor oil (that's in the owner's manual, too) as soon as possible to an engine that's low.
How to get the car out when it's stuck?
From mud or sand: Whatever you do, don't spin the tyres. That will just dig a deeper hole. Instead, put something in the intended path of the drive wheels—like branches, towels, wood blocks and proceed slowly.
Ideally, if you're wandering off-road, you should bring a mud
ladder or sand ladder with you. Mud and sand ladders are basically small bridges made of steel, rope, or wood that can be placed before the drive wheels and driven across.
viewed on 6-5-09
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