Day 27: The Mechanic Cap: Simple tips to keep the family car functional

Ruthie The Mechanic Cap Leave a Comment

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day 27 the mechanic hatOn my way home from errands, I detected a strange noise coming from the front left side of my vehicle, getting louder each time the car bounced from the  uneven road.

Worried, I called my husband and asked him to take a short ride with me to see if he could detect the problem.

After he climbed in and I turned the vehicle around, we heard the scraping.

I immediately threw it in park and we jumped out.

The problem was evident when I looked past the front wheel.

I’d been dragging a giant branch underneath my SUV.

Hey, it never hurts to err on the side of caution when it comes to your vehicle.


I’ve learned some pretty thorough lessons about cars in my 32 years of driving.

I know if my car sounds or handles differently.

I am one with the car.

How comfortable are you with your vehicle?  Are you observant of any changes?  Could you change a tire if necessary?

Driving skills

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anybody driving faster than you is a maniac?”~ George Carlin


I’m a pretty good driver but I have a tendency to talk to all the other drivers as if they’re morons.

That car pulling out right in front of me as I quickly brake:

“I’m not coming.  I’m not even here, dude.  Go ahead and pull out in front of me.”

When the driver at the stoplight sits obliviously after it’s turned green:

“It’s not gettin’ any greener, buddy.”

Following a super slow car in the passing lane:

“Ok, grandma, get over”.

(Never mind the fact that I’m a grandma now too.)

My kids say I’m a hostile driver.  I don’t even realize half the stuff I say until they call attention to it.

I considered a friend of mine mild-mannered until I rode in a car with him.  Talk about a Jekyll/Hyde personality.

Road rage is a real thing.  Little eyes and ears are watching.

We need to be careful not to ever lose control behind the wheel.



Just go the speed limit.  Nothing is ever worth risking a life.

I used to be a speeder.  Then I got two tickets in a row on the same stretch of highway.

I learned my lesson well, but it shouldn’t have cost me $300 to grasp the concept.



Always fill up when you reach 1/4 tank. This will save lots of headaches in the long-run. Click To Tweet

Did you know there’s an arrow on your gas gauge that points to the side your tank is on?  I’m saving you from potential embarrassment.

You’re welcome.


defensive driving

One time a truck in front of us with a bed load of bricks hit a bump.

Bricks went flying and we swerved to avoid contact.

Somehow we (and our vehicle) made it through unscathed, but had my husband not responded quickly, someone could have been seriously injured.

Always remain alert and don’t let yourself get distracted.

Crazy drivers are on the loose.



Always watch your mirrors while driving.

A lady pulled out behind me in downtown traffic, I noticed from my rear view mirror.  Her head swiveled side to side and I almost pulled off at the next right, but decided to chance it in my hurry to get home.

Thinking I was safe in the slow moving traffic, I stopped at the light and – BUMP.

She coasted right into me because she was looking at the people next to her.

You may think you don’t have time to take a detour in order to get away from an erratic driver but the truth is, you may save yourself in the long run.

Watch your mirrors closely and steer clear of irresponsible drivers.



It’s a sad thing when you run over a squirrel.  Or a rabbit, cat, or dog.

But at the risk of injuring a person, don’t brake quickly or swerve.

Once a cat ran right into my car as I drove down the highway.  I had nowhere to go.

As I looked in my rear view mirror, I saw his body summersaulting and my youngest screamed, “MOM!!!” in horror that I would do such a thing.

Truth:  loss of an animal can never match loss of a human when it comes to choosing which life to save.

(I was sorry about the cat.)


Rain, ice and snow

My husband always says it’s safer to keep driving in a rain storm and that pulling over can cause more accidents.

He’s a very safe driver, so I always go with that.

Use caution in the snow, go slow and provide lots of room between your car and the next.



General Maintenance



day 27 wrenchI loaded up the kids in the family van, heading for school, running late as usual.  I only got 400 feet past the driveway before pulling over due to a terrible flapping noise, the kids yelling, “Mom, WHAT’S THAT?!”

My first flat tire.

Here’s a timeless tip:  ALWAYS check your tires before getting in your vehicle.

Notice what your tires normally look like.  If one is little low, check the tire pressure and add air if needed.

Many cars have sensors for this now and you’ll see a notification on your dashboard.


rotate – they show wear and tear on the sides  – it’s best that they have even wear.  This also helps with fuel mileage.


familiarize yourself with how to change a tire

There should be directions in your manual.

Usually, I get my husband or a friend to help, but I’m familiar enough with the method that I could do it if needed.


windshield wipers

replace when damaged or seasonally (in WV after each winter due to ice)



check oil and change every 3000-5000 miles depending on your vehicle’s engine

check coolant levels (make sure engine doesn’t overheat)

change air filter every 15-20,000 miles



Not all states do this but here in WV we have a yearly inspection sticker.

They check lights, brakes, signals, windshield wipers, muffler, and body for wear and tear.



One time I left my mirror visor light flipped on after applying lipstick.

The next day, we loaded up all the kids to go down to the local Shoneys for dinner after dad had a long day at the office.

He turned the key in the ignition and – no juice.

I got in really big trouble for that (after all, it was dinner time).

Thank God for jumper cables.  (You need those too.)

Be sure to turn your lights off.



Again, the state of WV requires this.  Boo.

(Am I discouraging you from moving here?)



Driver’s license

(Don’t you just love the DMV)


(Also DMV)

Make sure you keep both of these up-to-date and in your glove compartment or console – you know, just in case…


winter care:

Ice scraper, blanket, flashlight, jumper cables – ahem.

Winter tires if you don’t have all-seasonal.

Remember mom, you’re carrying precious cargo.  Be attuned to your vehicle, listen for any strange noises, and check the tires before you get in.  Maintain general upkeep and traffic awareness, and never let yourself run low on gas.

Because if you don’t, you just might find yourself 6 months pregnant, hitching a ride on the interstate.

And trust me – you do not want to go there.


Day 28: The Shower Cap!


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