10 Things All Car Owners Should Know

car tipsOwning a car is a responsibility—I’m sure all of our parents told us that when they first handed us the keys to a car, whether that car was just the family car or a car specifically for us. We’re all older and wiser now, and if you’re bought yourself a Kia, you’ve already take one great step to stay safe on the road. Here are ten things that all car owners should know that they won’t teach you in driver’s education:

1. When your oil needs changing – One of the biggest benefits of buying a new Kia from our New Jersey dealership is the ability to get a car that will tell you when it needs an oil change. These cars have advanced monitoring and diagnostic features that will send a signal up when your oil is getting low. In general, however, knowing that most cars need an oil change every 5000 to 10,000 miles, or every three months, depending on how often you drive and how far you drive, can prevent you from driving off on a long road trip and having it ruined by a break down.

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2. What your check engine light means – When my check engine light flipped on, just as we were leaving New Jersey, I was first, worried and second, annoyed. It had to turn on now? While we were leaving the state on a road trip? Your check engine light doesn’t always mean that disaster is eminent, however, which is something I wish I’d known at the time. What it does mean is that the diagnostics systems have detected a problem and that you should have the car looked at as soon as possible. If the light is flashing, this usually indicates a more serious problem than if the light is simply solid.

3. How to replace the windshield wipers – I was away at college the first time I needed to replace my windshield wipers and I was so pathetically bad at it that my attempts to remove the old ones and put on the new ones attracted the attention of my dorm’s RA, who came out and showed me how to do it and gently chided me for not looking in my car’s manual for the instructions. Knowing how to do this quickly will prevent you from losing a windshield wiper when you need them the most.

4. What’s under the hood – You don’t have to know what everything under the hood is, but you should know, at the very least, where the oil goes, where your radiator is, and what your normal fluid levels look like. When I bought my first Kia, I was lucky enough to buy it from a salesman who wanted to make sure I knew what a pristine engine and correct fluid levels looked like. This information will help you quickly diagnose a problem if your vehicle is giving you trouble.

5. Your ideal tire pressure – I recently took my car to have its oil changed at a local quick-oil-change shop. When they were done changing the oil, they told me that they had checked my tires and inflated them all to 32 psi. Great—except that my tires are supposed to be at 38 psi. Knowing what your tire pressure is supposed to be can prevent you from driving around on tires that are either too low or too high. Both of these situations can be dangerous. You can find the right tire pressure for your Kia vehicle in your owner’s manual.

6. How to replace your headlights and taillights – This is one of the more complicated processes, but it can prevent you from getting a ticket because you are driving around with burned out taillights or headlights. The specific steps for your car in the manual, and most new cars come with LED bulbs that are much less likely to burn out, but this is still good information to know if you drive your car a lot.

7. Where your spare is – Where does your vehicle keep its spare tire? Is it underneath the body of the car? In the trunk? On the top or back? This may seem obvious, but when you have a flat tire, the last thing you want to be doing is searching for your spare and for the gear that you need in order to replace your tire. Know where all of these items are before you start driving.

8. What’s in your owner’s manual – The first time I cracked open my owner’s manual was because I needed to change the time on my car’s radio for Daylight Saving’s. These manuals are full of great resources. They tell you what all of the lights on your dash means, how often you need service, the brands of parts used in your vehicle, how to change your tire, etc. This information can be integral in an emergency so take some time to familiarize yourself with the manual.

9. How to jump start a car – I got “lucky.” There was a summer when I was a teenager when the car I was driving had to be jumped about eight times. I got really good at jumpstarting cars that summer and it’s a skill I’ve relied on since then. Even the best cars can be stalled by a dead battery. Knowing the basic steps can make getting back on the road much faster.

10. How to get out when you’re stuck – Getting stuck on ice, in snow, or mud can be scary and frustrating. Knowing how to get even the smallest, lightest of cars to move can be helpful. The most effective is the rocking technique. Shifting between drive and reverse and going as far as you can in either direction before you get stuck again will usually help you get out of a sticky spot.

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