Car maintenance is a daunting task for many car owners, but it doesn’t have to be. Once you have mastered a few of the most basic car repairs, you’re well on your way to becoming a car maintenance connaisseur. Here is part one of a two-part series detailing some of the most basic car repairs that you can do at home—and just about anyone can do them.

Changing a flat tire

This is an essential skill that every driver should know. The general steps for changing a flat tire are as follows: park your car on a flat surface, chock the wheel opposite of the flat tire, use a lug wrench (with the special key for one of your lug nuts) to loosen the lug nuts, jack the car up until the flat tire is off the ground, fully remove the lug nuts, remove the flat tire, slide the new (or space saver) tire in place, and then reinstall the lug nuts by alternating tightening them in a star-like pattern. It’s best to practice the process before a time of necessity hits, of course. It’s also a good idea to keep gloves, knee pads, a flashlight, and a crowbar in your car for this task; the gloves will help to protect your hands, the knee pads will protect your knees as you kneel on hard surfaces, the flashlight will come in handy at night, and the crowbar will help you pry off your wheel in case it has become melded or rusted to the axle.

Replacing windshield wipers

Windshield wipers should generally be changed every six months, and it’s a simple matter of lifting up each wiper, pulling each wiper down off of the arm hoof, and then using a reverse motion to install the new wiper.

Replacing and filling the washer fluid tank

Sometimes the washer tank meant for spraying washer fluid onto your windshield is damaged or disconnected, meaning you won’t be able to trigger a spraying of fluid onto your windshield. A washer tank is fairly easy to replace because it is typically held in place by just a couple of screws. Inspect your tank to determine whether a leak is the problem. In this case, you’ll need to replace the tank. If that’s not the case, be sure that the tube that connects the tank to the spraying mechanism is connected to the tank properly. And if your tank is simply empty and needs refilling, be sure to purchase a large container of washer fluid and to pour it into your tank, diluting the fluid first if necessary.

Replacing the car air filter

Ever thought about the air filter that your car needs to run efficiently? This is a type of maintenance that many forget about but that is extremely simple. Find the correct air filter at your local auto parts store, open the air filter box under your hood, remove the filter, and put in the new filter. You’ll usually find the air filter box on top of or to the side of your engine; it’s a large plastic box.

Stay tuned later this month for part two of this essential car repair list.

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