The car maintenance every real gentleman should know

Changing a tyre is one of the manliest acts on Earth. Every time I have to do this, which is rare as I live in the city, I think I deserve a medal and a pat on the back. It’s actually very easy though. In fact, I consider people who call the AA when they have a puncture to be as selfish as the people who call an ambulance for a nosebleed.

But my high horse is only a Shetland pony in this instance, because this is where my mechanical know-how starts and dies. Suffer me any other misfortune than a blown out tyre while tootling up the M6 and I’m one of those sitting ducks in a foil blanket on the hard shoulder. It’s one of the ignorant traits I like least about myself – right up there with the fact that I love food but can’t cook.

We spend a lot of time in our cars – roadtrips are also something that we all aspire to do in our lifetime – so having a grip on the basics of car mechanics is the least we should all posses.

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CHANGING A FLAT TYRE

Ensure your spare tyre is inflated before started. Loosen the wheel nuts before lifting the car – don’t remove them. Jack the car up on a jacking point by the wheel you are removing, stopping when the car is a few inches off the ground. Take off the nuts and pull the tyre off. Put the new tyre on, tighten the nuts and then lower to the ground. Give one final tighten. Finally, lean on the bonnet and take a moment to congratulate yourself. Then drive on.

CHANGE THE OIL

It’s actually as easy as falling off a log. Just unscrew the oil filler cap, oil filter and drain plug, collecting the old oil in a bucket. Only do this when the engine is cold. Once empty, screw everything back on and fill will new oil.

JUMP-START

A good skill to have, whether for yourself or helping a fellow driver. Position the cars bonnet to bonnet and switch off engines. Attach the red cord to the positive terminal and the black cord to negative. Switch on the working car’s engine and allow to tick over for a few minutes. Try the dead car…

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CHANGE SPARK PLUGS

This is both easy to do and a great way to save money on garage labour. The rules are to only work on one plug at a time to ensure they go back in in the right order, and screw them in gently initially to not damage the thread.

REPLACE A FUSE

Often we think electrical issues require the touch of a professional, but more often than not a simple fuse change is all that’s needed. It is just a case of finding the culprit and swapping it with a new model (which will cost less than a coffee).

CHANGE HEADLIGHT BULBS

Not only are bulbs easy to find and inexpensive, headlight covers can be removed with a simple socket set. Once you’ve done it, it’ll become second nature.

Further Reading