A Girl’s Guide to Cars

June 8th, 2011
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Automotive Repair

There’s no denying that when it comes to understanding all of the parts and functions of a vehicle, it can be quite confusing and lead to immense frustration. But before you go stubbing your toe kicking the tire, here is an easy guide to save you and your pedicure. Print this guide and keep it in your car!

The Glove Box

Also known as the compartment under the dashboard on the passenger side of the car that holds important papers. Of those important papers you should have:

-The Owner’s Manual: it looks boring, but it has every possible piece of information you could possibly need about your car; from how to put gas in it, tohow to rebuild it.

- Registration: you should get a new one each year, it’s the paper you peel the sticker

off for your license plate, it looks like trash but you actually need to keep it. Make sure it’s up to date and the only copy, although having a jumble of old ones has been known to gain sympathy at your adorable lack of car knowledge from police officers writing you a ticket…little do they know..

-Insurance Card: Leave it in your glove box or in your wallet, and make sure it’s also up to date. USE IT! Any car problems you have such as running out of gas, a blown tire, or if you need to be towed, are usually covered – you don’t want to pay all that money for nothing! Make sure you get the best and cheapest insurance by comparing multiple companies at websites like www.autocricket.com for free!

-Essentials: This is also a great place to keep napkins, back up sunglasses, a brush, and perfume.

Under The Hood

The scariest part of the car, usually opened for maintenance, or if there is smoke coming from under it.

-Opening it: there should be a lever on the bottom left area of the drivers side, below the steering wheel; pull it hard and you should hear it pop the hood. Then gracefully lift the hood up and place the metal stick that holds it open into place. Some cars have a lever under the middle area that you have to push first to open the hood. Once open, don’t freak out at all the stuff under there, but also don’t touch anything right away, it may be very hot.

-Windshield Wiper Fluid: stored inside a white plastic jug, get it refilled when you get your oil changed, or you can do it yourself.

-Oil Checker: pretty much unnecessary thanks to “check oil” dashboard lights, and “return for service” stickers, but if you’re trying to look do-it-yourself impressive, it’s a small colored rubber ring that when pulled is attached to a long metal stick. This stick has oil all over it which gets all over your hands and clothes, so use a napkin to hold it while looking at the very tip of it; there are markings showing levels to determine how much is in oil is the tank.

-Oil Tank: can be identified by a circular, labeled lid. For those brave enough to change it yourself – very carefully add oil using a funnel and depending on how much the oil checker says is needed. However, it’s about one thousand times easier to just take it into a car mechanic.

-Battery: looks like a giant square battery. If your car stops working, or won’t start, you may have a dead battery. Here are simple steps to jump start your car using someone else’s and jumper cables, if you don’t feel like waiting for road side assistance.

1. Turn both cars off, and open the hoods.

2. Connect the RED (+) clamp to the positive silver circle of the dead car.

3. Connect the other end of the red wire to the positive circle of the alive car.

4. Connect the BLACK (-) clamp to the negative circle of the alive car.

5. STOP before you electrocute yourself or the cute guy helping you, attach

the other end of the black wire to a clean metal area under the hood of the

dead car, NOT the negative end of the battery!

6. Start the alive car and let it run for a few minutes.

7. Start your dead car, and let it run for thirty minutes to recharge.

8. After it’s started, remove the wires in the reverse order.

9. Consider taking it in to see why it died in the first place.

-Engine: looks like a cluster of metal squiggles. It’s usually hot so don’t touch it. If you see smoke coming out from under the hood, it’s usually from the engine overheating – get out of the car, walk away, and call road side assistance, or under your own liability, open the hood to let the smoke out, then call.

The Trunk

Not just a storage space for shopping bags! Most cars come stocked with essentials needed for fixing car problems, but if not be sure to get them. You should have a tool box, jumper cables, flares, a first aid kit, and a spare tire. Speaking of which; if you get a flat tire, don’t try to be a handy girl, call a friend or your insurance company to come help you change it or give you a lift. Cars are heavy; you do not want one falling on you.

Voila! You are now a car guru! Don’t forget that your owner’s manual has all possible information about your car, and that your insurance may cover roadside assistance to help you with car problems. Who said cars were for boys? Drive safe!

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