The other evening, in the parking lot of a food store, I was joining my car with a friend when a woman rushed to ask for our help: her vehicle refused to start. Immediately focused on my companion, she handed him her jumper cables. Unfortunately for her, it wasn’t him who would be able to help her yet! The poor guy gave me a sideways glance while lifting the hood, holding the cables with all the awkwardness of a child trying to play surgeon with tweezers as an instrument.
Unlike him, I started dozens of recalcitrant cars — but I didn’t budge an inch, despite my frequent urge to shout “No, not here!” or “Don’t do it like that!”. I just waited for him to finish, then, seeing his obvious failure, I plugged in the cables properly myself. His car back in working order, the driver thanked him before resuming his journey.
While this story clearly illustrates our deep-seated prejudices about women’s automotive capabilities, it also reminds us that mastering a few basic practices can save you a lot of particularly stressful problems. Here are four operations that I often recommend to my friends:
Jump start your car with cables
The technique has held no secrets for me since my high school years: my car at the time, quite old, forced me to use it regularly. I always traveled with jumper cables, a strategy particularly indicated if your headlights do not turn off automatically. It will only take you five minutes, and you will avoid having to wait for a tow truck or beg someone to do you a favor!
If you have another vehicle on hand, the process is very simple. Start by connecting one clamp of the red cable to the positive terminal of the working battery, and the second to that of the bad battery. Then connect a clamp of the black cable to the negative terminal of the backup battery. This time, the other end must be fixed to a ground point, which is a metal element of the engine block of the broken down car. A screw will do just fine. You can then try to start your vehicle to see if it works, then, while the engine is still running, remove the cables in the reverse order of the original process.
Once your manipulations are finished, you can recharge your battery while driving. Easy, right?
Change your wiper blades
A colleague who is nevertheless an automobile enthusiast recently told me that he had this operation done by his mechanic. Of a thrifty nature, I was amazed that he didn’t take care of it himself: the brooms are inexpensive parts and very easy to install.
Before going to the store, remember to check which type of model will be compatible with your vehicle. After purchase, lift the blades to see how they are mounted. There is usually a small tab at the base of the broom, which you will need to squeeze to release it. Then insert your new wipers, making sure they are securely attached. It’s not as hard as it looks, and it will save you a few bucks!