Being a new driver can be a bit intimidating while you are gaining your confidence on the road. In addition to getting the rules of the road down, you should take the time to educate yourself on the basics on how a car works. A little knowledge beforehand will keep you from making some basic rookie mistakes and keep you from being stranded on the side of the road.
1. Don’t exhaust the battery — your basic rookie mistake is to keep your battery on or in use while the engine is off. The car engine charges the battery, which is what makes the car start. Many a driver have accidentally drained the battery by listening to the radio with the engine off, having the headlights on with the engine off, leaving the car ‘on’ with the engine off… etc. Basically anything that uses the battery should be used only minimally while the car engine is off. You won’t be sorry that your car always turns on reliably.
2. Always change your oil — changing your oil is the cheapest way to keep your call happy and healthy for the long run. The car engine oil is there to lubricate, cool, and clean your engine. The absence of clean engine can create heating, build-up within the engine, and other horrible consequences. Oil changes are often recommended every 6 months and are usually fairly affordable. Many big car repair franchises offer all kinds of specials for this regular maintenance.
3. Spare tires are not made for the long haul — your spare tire, some call it a ‘donut’ is meant to be used for emergencies. Many times these spare tires are smaller than the size that would be appropriate for your car and are not made to last for a while. So while it’s fine to swap out a flat tire for a spare to get safely home, you should replace it as soon as possible. Failure to do so will likely find you with another flat soon and/or damage to your axles or rims.
4. What a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is — familiarize yourself with this icon on your dashboard is. Many drivers cannot recognize what is TPMS. It is a visual alert symbol to let you know to check your tire pressure. Cars are required to have these by law to keep you safe on the road. Ignoring the symbol is unsafe and can lead to more serious damage to your car. The symbol looks like bulb with an exclamation point inside.
5. Even the best laid plans can go to waste — After knowing the basics about their car, a new driver should also be aware of how to handle emergencies while driving. Batteries
die, flat tires happen, and unfortunately the gas tanks does not run infinitely deep. The best way to handle these emergencies is to be prepared. Keep an empty gas tankard in the trunk, a spare tire and patch kit, jumper cables, and, if all else fails, keep your cell phone charged. Keeping a car phone charger handy in the car can often be a real lifesaver. Since these chargers run off your car battery, it won’t help you if the car battery dies (and you should avoid leaving it plugged in without the engine running), but otherwise it’s a practical way to be prepared for an emergency.
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