Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Owning a Car?
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How Much Do You Know About Owning a Car?
By: Teresa McGlothlin
Image: Matelly / Cultura / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Once you've found the perfect car, it feels like a huge burden has been lifted off your shoulders. Now that it's parked in your driveway, you have a whole new set of responsibilities and things to learn! As we speed through this quiz, we're going to put your knowledge of car ownership to the test. Do you really know as much as you think you do? 

You can take all the joyrides in the world, but unless you know how to properly take care of your car, it could be a short-lived ride. From having your oil changed to knowing what to do when you are getting pulled over, the demands of car ownership are never ending. Unlike the test you'll find at the DMV, we've taken a more car-focused stance on the things you need to know to be on the road. You might have had an easy time getting your driver's license, but will it be as simple to care for your car? 

There's no need to race to the finish line. Instead, we want to challenge you to slow down and take a Sunday drive through our questions. Once we drop the checkered flag, we'll let you know how much you really know about being a car owner. How well do you think you'll do?

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Do you know how often you should change your windshield wipers?

Although it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, it is generally recommended that you change your windshield wipers every six months. If you start to see streaks on your windshield during use, there's no harm in changing them as often as needed.

Because the weight of the front and rear axles are different, your tires will begin to wear unevenly. Rotating the tires approximately every six months or 5,000 miles will help to extend the life of your tires.

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Which of your car's documents should you never keep in your car?

You should always make sure to have updated copies of your registration and your insurance card tucked away in your car. However, you should never leave your car's title certificate in the glovebox. If your title certificate fell into the wrong hands, you could run the risk of theft.

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If you think you have a low tire, what tool would you use to check?

Even if your tires do not appear low, it's a good idea to check them every once in a while. When you do check them, you will need to use the assistance of a tire-pressure gauge. Attaching the tire-pressure gauge to your tire valve will let you know how much air pressure still remains in your tire.

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Can you choose the correct name for the device used to check your oil?

Keeping the right amount of oil in your vehicle and having it checked regularly can greatly improve your engine's life. To check the oil, you must raise your hood and locate the oil chamber and find a dipstick with a hook on the top. It will tell you how much oil your car needs when you remove it.

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What sort of fluid should you put in your car's radiator?

Every few months, it's a good idea to check all of your car's fluids including the coolant found in your radiator. Engine coolant helps to keep your engine running smoothy and helps your car from overheating. You should be very careful to let your car cool down before checking it.

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Your car has been assigned a unique set of numbers that identify it - what is it called?

When being assembled at the factory, your car is given a 17-digit number called the VIN (vehicle Identification number). Knowing your VIN can help when ordering car parts or tracing your car's history. Every vehicle has its own unique VIN.

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When you change a tire, what pattern should you use to tighten it back up?

After changing a tire, it's important to tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern. Using the star pattern ensures that you can evenly tighten the wheel without applying too much pressure on one side.

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In addition to a jack, what else would you need to change a tire?

If you have a flat tire and you need to replace it with a spare, you will need two basic tools. You will need a jack to raise your car up to relieve the weight on the wheel. Then, you will use the lug wrench to remove the lug nuts that hold the tire in place.

It might sound crazy, but experts recommend that you include a bag of cat litter with your emergency kit. If you were to become stuck, pouring the cat litter around your wheels can help you get traction on slippery surfaces.

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You are required to carry two pieces of information in your car - what are they?

You never know when you might have to present your car's identification to law enforcement. When you are asked, you must show that you have proof of both your car's registration and your insurance card. In some states, your insurance is recorded so you don't need the card, but it's a good idea to have it.

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When you are parking downhill, which way should you point your wheels?

If you find yourself parking in a downhill position, it's a good idea to turn your wheels toward the curb. In the event that your car began to roll, having your wheels turned inward will assist in making sure your car doesn't go anywhere!

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Where would you find a sticker with your tire pressure and other vehicle information?

Car manufacturers have made technical information about your vehicle easy to find. When you need to know your tire pressure, your VIN or the weight of your car, all you have to do is look at the sticker inside your driver's door.

Although you are not legally required to call the police to respond to the scene of a minor accident, it is recommended. Having a police officer assess the scene provides official documentation of the damage and the driver at fault.

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How often should you have your oil changed?

Although you may have heard that your oil needs to be changed every 3,000 miles, most manufacturers recommend that you have it changed every 5,000-7,000 miles. You should always refer to your car's manual for precise instructions on changing your vehicle's oil.

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What is the type of insurance you must carry if your car is financed?

Whether you have a car financed through a credit union or a dealership, you will be required to carry full coverage insurance. Full coverage protects both your investment in your car and any harm that may be caused to others when accidents occur.

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If you're planning a trip, what number can you call for traffic information?

When traveling on US highways, you can find out about traffic near you by dialing 511. Calling the number will give you the most up-to-date information available. 911 should be reserved for true emergencies.

Over time, your headlights can start to dim without you really noticing, and sometimes you have to change a blown bulb. To avoid both scenarios, most manufacturers recommend that you replace the bulbs in your headlights once every year. Newer headlights such as HID bulbs last much longer, though.

Without a clean air filter, dirt and particles can build up in your engine and affect your car's performance. Although your air filter will probably be changed when you take your car for routine maintenance, you should make sure to get a new one at least every six months.

While you certainly don't want to leave your car running for too long and waste gas, it's always a good idea to let your car warm up for at least a minute before you go stomping on the gas. No matter what the weather, it's a good idea to let engine oil get moving before you do.

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How many miles can you go on a set of spark plugs before having them replaced?

It is important to have your spark plugs changed to keep your engine's electrical system firing, but it doesn't need to be done as often as many other car part replacements. In fact, you can go up to 30,000 miles before having to replace them - depending on your manufacturer's recommendation, of course!

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Which tool would you use to charge up a dead car battery?

From leaving a light on to the weather draining a battery's charge, having a dead car battery can happen to anyone. It's important to keep a set of jumper cables with your car's emergency kit so that you can get back on the road in no time.

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Even if you have a perfect driving record, you never know when you might get pulled over for a faulty light or a mistake on the road. When you see an officer with their lights on behind you, the first thing you should do is acknowledge the officer by turning on your hazard lights. Then, pull over safely.

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One of the most important pieces of documentation you should keep in your car is your owner's manual. The owner's manual contains every bit of information about your vehicle's needs, capabilities and systems. Every car owner should take the time to read their car's manual.

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Which sort of filter keeps the breathable air inside your car clean?

In addition to keeping the air going to your engine clean, it's also important to keep the air you breathe inside your vehicle clean. To keep dust out of your car's interior air, make sure to change the cabin air filter every 3,000 miles.

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If you notice your car pulling to one side, what sort of maintenance might need to be performed?

There are many reasons your car might pull to one side, but the most common is the need for a wheel alignment. Over time, wear and tear can cause the alignment of your axles to shift. Having a wheel alignment performed every two to three years will help keep you straight.

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Your engine runs with the aid of a timing belt - how often should you have it changed?

Your engine is powered with the use of two belts, the timing belt and the serpentine belt, and they occasionally need to be changed. To keep your car's engine running at peak performance, make sure to have your timing belt changed every 60,000 miles and your serpentine belt changed every 40,000.

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Which one of your car's features are you required to use when it's raining?

After sunset and when it is raining, you are required to use your headlights. While we recommend you also use your windshield wipers during rainy weather, you are only legally required to use your headlights.

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Small children require a special device when riding in a car - what is it called?

It varies from state to state, but small children must always be placed in a child safety seat. There are various weight and height requirements for the type of seat needed, but children should always be safely buckled into the backseat.

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It's important to keep gas in your car's tank at all times, but how much?

It's common to let your car's light come on before stopping to get gas, but it's recommended that you never let your tank go past 1/4 full. In fact, during the winter months, it's recommended that you keep the tank even fuller.

Even in the middle of summer, it's never recommended that you use water in place of windshield washer fluid. Adding water to your washer fluid reservoir can run the risk of freezing, and it lacks the cleaning power of the specialized fluid.

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When you hit a bump and you hear a rattle in your wheel, what should you have checked out?

Noticing a rattle in your wheel when you hit a bump could indicate that it's time to have your shocks or your struts replaced. Manufacturers vary greatly when it comes to when you should have your struts or shocks replaced. Be sure to check your owner's manual for your car's specifics.

Sure, washing your car makes it look good, but it also serves a much deeper purpose. When you are driving, your car is exposed to everything in the air including salt and other corrosive particles. Giving your car a monthly wash can prolong your car's paint job.

Driving during wet or snowy weather can be tricky. If you should feel your brakes lock up, experts recommend taking your foot off the brake. Then, gently put your foot back on the brake. Repeat the procedure until you feel your brakes unlock.

If you find yourself changing a tire or with an otherwise disabled vehicle, it's important to let other drivers know that you are ahead. You should always keep road flares or a reflective triangle in your car's emergency kit to keep yourself safe from oncoming traffic.

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