Learning how to drive is often a complicated and confusing experience. Many people may think that getting behind the wheel, learning how to maneuver the car, and learning the traffic rules are enough to drive. However, any driving instructor will tell you that there are many important things about cars and other essential lessons that you need to learn.
As a newly-qualified driver, every day on the road is a driving lesson. And when it comes to driving, practice makes perfect! Here are some things you need to know:
How to change a flat tire
One of the most obvious mechanic skills that every driver must learn is how to change a tire. You don’t know when a tire would suddenly become flat, and it would be hard to continue driving. In case that happens, do you know what you need to do?
You must pull completely off the road, even if it means destroying the tire. It’s a great advantage if you can tackle the problem yourself, and it can save you time and money. Always bring a spare tire and make sure you’re out of the way of any traffic before you try to change it yourself. If you don’t know how, you can always call roadside assistance to come to help you.
Knowing your car
Chances are, the first car you drive or own as a licensed driver is not the same car in which you learned to drive. As a new driver, it’s crucial to spend some time familiarizing yourself with this new set of wheels to make sure you are comfortable handling it. Get acquainted with the pedals, know where the shift is located, and make sure you can see the road ahead and behind, as well as the instruments on the dash. Spend time getting to know your car better to ensure safe driving.
What to do when the “check engine” light comes on
If your check engine light comes on and you notice smells, noises, and changes in your car performance, stop the car right away. If there are no other symptoms except that the check engine light was on, it’s best to take your car to your trusted repair center or mechanic and let them diagnose the problem. If you just filled up at the gas station, the check engine light might simply mean that the gas cap is loose or you have filled up with the wrong fuel.
Paying attention to road signs and driving laws
You’ve learned this if you took a formal driving lesson and test, but be aware that there are a lot of different laws and regulations across states when it comes to driving. It’s always a good idea to research road laws you may need to know before crossing another state. Of course, you have to familiarize the laws in the state where you live. Always check if there are any additional requirements before you travel to another state.
Paying attention and understanding road signs is very essential, too. Yes – you are probably very aware of them as it’s part of passing the driving test, but actually following their instructions is a different thing. Every driver has to obey all the signs.
How to know if your repair shop is giving you a reasonable price
If there is something wrong with your car and some part needs repair, use the Internet to estimate how much repairs must cost. Check online review platforms to find a good auto shop with high customer ratings. Ask your friends and family who have taken their cars to the repair shop to have an idea. Do your research first before taking your vehicle to be inspected at an auto shop.
Most new drivers can fall victim to overpaying car repairs and services at some point in their driving journey. The best thing for them to do is to try to understand first what is wrong with your car so you can have an idea of the average cost for the repairs that might be needed. If you can’t diagnose a car just yet, don’t be afraid to take a quote, then do your research after. You can then go back and question the pricing if you feel that it’s too high and ask for an in-depth explanation of the cost.
How to drive in bad weather
At some point, you will be driving in heavy rain or snow. Though it must be avoided if you can, it’s unavoidable. Make sure you reduce your speed and stay away from the cars in front of you. A car might hydroplane at times if there’s sudden heavy rainfall. You can try to practice on empty roads after it has rained or snowed to get some experience before trying it in a real snowy or rainy situation. Take it slow and steady, and get to know how the car feels during these situations.
During rainy or snowy weather, you can’t use the cruise control feature of the car. If you do, it will make it more difficult for you to gain control of your vehicle.
Giving others the right of way
It’s easy to drive on a wide and straight highway in the country roads, but if you travel in crossroad junctions in quiet areas where no one road has the right of way, it can get tricky to get the hang of. In theory, all roads can move forward if they need to, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what problems will ensure if it happens.
New drivers must not be going out of their way to be aggressive drivers, and a great way to show some patience is by letting other cars have their right of way. It will help you avoid potential accidents and even send other drivers in a happier frame of mind.
Not using phones while driving
This is a very obvious tip for all drivers that don’t need to be said. Teenagers and young adults still think they can text and drive as they are pretty much glued to their phones. But don’t even think about texting while driving, even at stoplights. Doing anything on your phone when you should be concentrating on the road is distracting, and in some areas, illegal. It’s better to use a hands-free system if it’s permissible to use a cell, but as much as possible, do it only for emergencies and important calls. Even talking on the phone with the help of a hands-free system has been shown to distract drivers.
Expecting the unexpected
No matter how experienced the drivers are, all are guilty of switching off when behind the wheel, especially when they’re traveling a route they know really well. But even if you have traveled that same road a million times, you must always give the road your full attention when you’re a new driver, and you’re behind the wheel. You need to watch out for unreliable, unpredictable drivers on the road, as well as pedestrians who might suddenly show up your way. You might even be surprised to see a horse or an ostrich crossing the road suddenly. If you expect the unexpected while you’re driving, then you cannot be taken by surprise.
Avoiding road rage
As a new driver, you might be driving more slowly, more cautiously, since you’re afraid to make a mistake while driving. You become the brunt of a lot of road rage, and your driving will inadvertently anger another driver. Try not to get drawn into interacting with them. While you’re still a beginner, try to ignore them or even change your route to a less occupied road. If somebody offends you, just take a deep breath and let your emotions subside. It’s not a good thing to get angered on the road while you’re still not used to driving.