Girl's Guide to Car Maintenance

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Is it just me or do any other ladies feel intimidated when it comes to all things vehicle related? I've been driving for over 13 years now and I still get nervous when I have to take my car in for repairs, or deal with any kind of vehicle maintenance.  

For the first few years since James moved to Canada, he and I shared a car. We were lucky that our old condo was right next to the lrt line which took James directly downtown to work so I could take our vehicle during the day. However, with our recent move we needed to purchase a second vehicle. I decided that this time around, I would push myself out of my comfort zone and get more familiar with our new vehicle (which is basically my vehicle) and learn how to do some basic maintenances. Now, if I'm being honest, I can't ever see myself changing my own oil or changing a tire (this is still me we're talking about here haha) but I do want to get more comfortable around my new vehicle and doing basic tasks that I've never done before. So to hold myself accountable and maybe encourage some of you to do the same, I thought I'd share my tips and goals when it comes to become more auto savvy. 

Tip #1 - Get Familiar With Your Car

This one is a bit of a no brainer and yet, day one of driving my new vehicle around I realized I didn't know where my automatic window controls were when I pulled up to the Starbucks drive thru and panicked when I couldn't open the window! #embarassing

I did eventually figure it out after a bit of frantic button mashing but that made me realize I definitely needed to set aside some time to figure out how my new car works. Take even ten or fifteen minutes and go through your car manual, figure out how to change your clocks, change your radio presets, use your windshield wipers and put your lights on. This sounds really simple but trust me guys, there's nothing worse than being in the moment in a vehicle you're not familiar with and being unable to find how to do what you want to do! An embarrassing drive thru moment is one thing but when it comes to safety, it could be a lot more serious. 

Tip #2 - Learn How To Check Air Pressure and Add Air

I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm pretty much useless when it comes to my tires. I've been guilty of driving around on flat tires and not even noticing (oops!). I decided that with this car I'm going to try to be way more tire aware haha. Especially because we live in a new construction zone, the chances of driving over a nail or something are definitely higher, we've already had one punctured tire since moving in three months ago. Thankfully my dad has this great gauge that measures your tire pressure (note: your manual will tell you what your tire pressure should be), and I had James show me how to put air in my tire so now if need be, I can do so on my own! #girlpower

Tip #3 - Change Your Filters

No big deal guys but after changing these filters on my own (Cue cheers and awes of amazement) I feel like I'm pretty much on my way to being a car boss babe haha! Even though the used car we bought is a 2015, I wanted to swap out our cabin air and engine filters because of the driving conditions the car went through and the kms on it. Plus, I doubted that they'd ever been changed so it was no shocker when we took them out to see that they hadn't been.

Engine Filter

The engine filter was actually surprisingly simple to change and as I learned, is really important. The engine air filter effects your acceleration and engine power. Basically, your engine needs clean air to reach it to get optimum combustion which is what makes your car run. If your filter is clogged with debris and dirt, the engine won't be running efficiently. So for the less than 30 minutes it takes and the few bucks you'll spend on a new filter, it's totally worth learning to do yourself.

In my car, the engine filter is right in front of the engine (d'uh). I removed the filter cover and could see the filter right away. I swapped my old filter out with a new FRAM Extra Guard filter, placed it in the tray, screwed the filter cover back on and I was done! It took me probably all of ten minutes and I felt like a boss.

Cabin Air Filter

Cabin Air Filter The next filter I learned how to change was my cabin air filter. As soon as I learned that the air inside your vehicle can be 6x as dirty as the air outside I immediately zipped on over to Canadian Tire to pick up a FRAM Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filter. Luckily they have an iPad set up in the aisle with the filters so you can select your vehicle make and year and they tell you the appropriate filters to pick up.

Your cabin air filter is literally the filter that keeps dust, dirt and debris from the outside air from getting inside your car. If left unchanged, it can allow the air inside your car to become dirtier and more full of pollutants than the air outside - yuck. When you think about how much time you spend in your vehicle, that's gross to think that you could be breathing in dirty air thanks to an old filter. Plus, it also affects the efficiency of your air conditioning/defrosting systems.

In my vehicle, the air filter is on the passenger side. To start I removed the side panel and the bottom of the car on the passenger side. Thankfully this was easy enough with the right screwdriver. 

After removing the panel, there was a second protective panel that also needed to be removed to reveal the cabin air filter. 

Once both panels were removed, the housing for the cabin air filter was exposed. I had to use another screwdriver to take the cap off to reveal the filter and thankfully, this was pretty straightforward. 

You can see that once I removed the cover panel, the side of the filter was exposed. All I had to do was pull the filter out which was a simple and easy process. You can see that the air filter was pretty dirty. I had no idea how important it was to change these filters until I did it myself.  

To put the new filter in, make sure the arrow is pointing inside the car so that the filter works correctly. The FRAM Air Filter uses activated carbon as well as Arm and Hammer baking soda to filter odours so it's important to put the filter in correctly! Then slide the filter back into place, replace the covers and you're done! Click the link above for more tips, tricks and how-to's on replacing your filters.

Tip #4: Take Pride In Your Car

I've been guilty of driving around with a week's worth of clothes and shoes in the backseat, four starbucks cups and lord knows how many granola bar wrappers in the side compartments but I've made a personal resolution for this to change. Take pride in your vehicle - keep it clean, don't let it fill up with junk and show it some TLC. This is after all what gets you from point A to B safely on a daily basis. I've got a little garbage can in my backseat and a 'cleaning kit' in the back with my safety kit to keep this little car of mine looking good as new for as often as I can. 

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