1. Jumpstarting a Battery
It has happened to the best of us in the middle of a busy day: you inadvertently leave your lights on, ignore the warning beep as you step out of your car, and return to it later that evening to discover that it won't start. Immediately, you see that the light switch is on, and you smack yourself upside the head as you realize what happened.
Fortunately, unlike the AA's in your remote control, a car battery can get itself going through a quick jumpstart from another battery. All you need is a set of jumper cables, another vehicle, and the necessary know-how. Consult your vehicle instructions for more information, but the golden rule for avoiding a potential shock is this: never attach the black (negative) cable to the negative terminal of the dead battery.
2. Checking the Oil
When it comes to the dipstick that measures the amount of oil in your car, don't be a 'dip' yourself - learn how to check it and replace the oil! The type of measuring stick can vary depending on your car, but generally speaking you'll want to wait until your engine is cold, remove the stick, wipe it off, and then dip and remove it again. After removing it the second time, the stick will indicate if you currently have enough oil.
If you need to put some oil in, do so a little bit at a time, re-measuring as you go. It's a lot easier to put oil into an engine than it is to take it back out!
3. Replacing Window Washer Fluid
While it may seem like a highly simple task, keeping your window washer fluid correctly filled up can be a little different in Ontario than it might be elsewhere.
From around April to November (depending on where you live in the province) you'll want to fill your reservoir with summer washer fluid, which is typically coloured pink. The advantage of this type of washer fluid tends to lie in its ability to help your wipers remove tar, dead bugs and other pleasant types of summer debris. The rest of the year, you'll want to use winter washer fluid, which is typically coloured blue or green. This type of window washer fluid will typically contain antifreeze and/or detergent, helping your wipers deal with the ice and salt of the Great White North.
4. Checking and Filling Tires
Despite the popular expression, you can't test your tires just by kicking them. You'll need an actual tire gauge, a nearby pump to refill them if necessary, and also the ability to turn your head well enough to read the walls of the tires themselves. All tires lose slight amounts of pressure over time, and checking the pressure in them should be a regular part of your maintenance routine.
Assuming your car still has the original tires it was manufactured with, the recommended amount of air to put in them should be included in your owner's manual. These recommended amounts should be slightly exceeded if you're carrying an above-average amount of weight in the vehicle, but take care to never exceed the maximum inflation pressure specified on the side of the tire - doing so will greatly increase the risk of tire damage or failure.
5. Filling up the Tank
Perhaps the simplest and most common of automotive skills, filling up the tank with gasoline is still something that requires care and attention. Always make sure to not overflow your tank by ignoring the automatic shut-off that modern gas pumps include, and don't forget to put your gas cap firmly back into place.
Looking for car insurance, vehicle advice or maintenance tips? Check out Insurance Hunter, one of Ontario's leading online brokerages.