At the tender age of 39 and ¾, I’m proud to announce that I somewhat successfully changed my first automobile tire. And, as expected, the Facebook community took the wheel and offered me a good ribbing when I shared this photo.

 

Some of my friends comments included little gems such as:

“Man card in the mail buddy”

And….

“Hope you didn’t chip a nail”

And, if it weren’t enough that my friends were taking relentless stabs at me, my sarcastic aunt joined in the pile-on with…

“Good job Tommy, but you sure are getting old!”

Anyhow, I’ve since recovered and this experience ended up getting me motivated. In case you didn’t read the title of this piece… BREAKING NEWS: I’m turning 40!

I’ve decided that it’s time to finally embrace manhood and educate myself on car maintenance. You never know when you might happen to drive the Family Truckster off a cliff ala Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation and need to utilize some basic ingenuity to get it back on the road. Not to mention that it would probably seriously impress my wife, three kids, and two dogs.

Admittedly, I needed some help in learning how to take care of my car, so I turned to Autotrader.com for some help.

 

With my first tire change out of the way, I was feeling ambitious. A dipstick isn’t something that I’ve been completely familiar with (aside from my wife Lucy using that term to get me back in line), but I truly needed to understand how to check my oil. This is something that I remember my dad taught me as a teenager, a long time ago, but I forgot everything. Autotrader.com advises to check the engine oil weekly when the car is warm. Stop the engine and wait a few minutes for the oil to settle, remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Push the dipstick all the way in, wait a second, and then withdraw it and check the level. The oil should be between the two marks. I never really started doing this until now. Only took me 23 years of driving to start following my dad’s advice. Better late than never!

 

With tires and oil knocked out, why not remedy the weeks I’ve spent not being able to see out of my front windshield when it rains? Autotrader’s recommendation was to search the exact car model online, and order directly from there.  No need to head out to the car dealership for something this simple! Once the part arrived, I had this replaced in less than ten minutes and took a lap around the block to see if any of the neighbors might offer up an applause. 

 

Here’s the deal, guys. Cars won’t actually drive properly if the tires are flat. Whether it’s low-profile or not, any and all rubber needs to be properly inflated when it meets the road. I’ve seen warnings in the car but never checked myself. Turns out, it’s a lot easier than I thought.  You just grab one of these little things (that may not be the proper terminology, but baby steps), and make sure the pressure matches up with what is recommended in your car’s manual. Another tip I learned from Autotrader is that your fuel efficiency is impacted when tire pressure is low. As a guy that likes to save money, I’m going to be checking my tires more often now!  

 

If I wasn’t a glutton for punishment, I would’ve stopped at this point. However, I promised you four things. And I’m a man (now) of my word.

I’ve washed my car before, but I’ve never waxed it. This was something I’d only seen on infomercials and thought it was fake. It ended up being tedious, yes, but a super fun project for me and the kids.

SO WHAT if this took up an entire Saturday summer morning, I walked away filled with a certain amount of pride. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and now have a sweet, clean ride in the driveway. Autotrader had my back and helped me kill it.

It’s important that was all make sure our cars are prepared to handle the weather changes of summer. Higher temperatures and summer storms can take a toll on our cars’ fluids, engines, and tires. For more information on how to be prepared during the hot season, check out Autotrader’s 10 Simple Summer Car Care Tips.

I’m so happy I stepped it up before my 40th. With knowledge, comes power and because of Autotrader, I’m going to be a much smarter car owner and consumer.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Autotrader, but the manly skills shown within are all mine. For more information on Autotrader, check them out here, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!