how-to videos

When it comes to your car, you don’t want it “sorta” fixed. So forget confusing charts, lengthy manuals, and over-the-phone tutorials from dear old Dad. With our handy how-to videos, you’ll learn everything from parking on a hill to changing a flat tire in 53 seconds or less.

Step-by-step instructions [+]

Jump-starting instructions

All you'll need to jump-start a dead battery are jumper cables and a nice person with a working car (let's call him Fred). For added safety, we also suggest having a flashlight, goggles, and gloves.

Before you start, read your owner's manual

Some cars have extra steps you'll need to take before beginning, some have the battery in a place you may not expect, and some shouldn't be jump-started at all. The owner's manual can advise you on how to begin because, unlike us, it knows your exact make and model.

Step 1: Get the cars within 2 feet of each other

Obviously, Fred will have to move his car since yours isn't going anywhere. Make sure both ignitions are off. (If your car's a manual, place it in "neutral" and pull the parking brake.)

Step 2: Pop both hoods and find each car's battery

The batteries should be marked with a plus (positive) and a minus (negative).

Step 3: Connect the cables

  • Attach one of the red clamps of the jumper cable to the positive terminal of Fred's battery (that's the healthy one in case you forgot).
  • Attach the other red clamp to the positive terminal of your dead battery.
  • Attach the black clamp to the negative terminal of Fred's battery.
  • Attach the other black clamp to an unpainted metal surface on your car … not too close to the carburetor or battery.

Step 4: Start Fred's car

Rev the engine a little, then let it idle for a minute or 2. If the dead battery is old or hasn't been used in a while, let Fred's car run for 3 to 5 minutes before turning on yours. This allows the dead battery to charge.

Step 5: Start your car (yippee!)

Let both cars idle for a few minutes. (You can take this time to get to know your savior.)

Step 6: Disconnect the cables (in the reverse order they were connected)

  • Black clamp from your car
  • Black clamp from Fred's car
  • Red clamp from your car
  • Red clamp from Fred's car

Step 7: Thank Fred and get on your merry way

Drive your car around for 15 to 30 minutes to allow your battery to charge.

Guide to parking on a hill

Parking on a hill is easy, especially if you know how to parallel park. In case you need a refresher on parallel parking (on a hill or otherwise), here's your guide.

Step 1: Find a big-enough parking space.

Just make sure that it's about 4 to 6 feet larger than your car. (You'll want plenty of bumper-breathing room.)

Step 2: Position your car parallel with the car in front of your parking space.

Leave 2 to 3 feet between cars to avoid scraping.

Step 3: Turn your wheel hard toward the curb and reverse slowly.

Don't rely on the mirrors too much: look over your shoulder and check your surroundings.

Step 4: Stop at a 45-degree angle with the curb.

Your front seat should be aligned with the front car's back bumper.

Step 5: Turn the steering wheel away from the curb.

This will straighten your car as it pulls into the parking spot.

Step 6: Continue in reverse.

Keep an eye on your front bumper so you don't scrape the front car. Slowly back up as far as you can without tapping the bumper of the car behind you.

Step 7: Turn the wheels and park.

If you're parking in an uphill spot, steer toward the street and ease your car backward so your front wheel rests against the curb, which will act as a block. If you're parking in a downhill spot, turn your wheels toward the curb.

If your car starts to move, the goal is to make sure it rolls into the curb and not the street.

Step 8: Put the car in park and engage your parking brake.

Confidently walk away. That's it, you're done.

Guide to cooling an overheated engine

Most cars have a gauge or alert light to indicate when they're dangerously close to overheating. If you notice the temperature rising, here's what to do.

Use common sense.

If you feel like you might be in danger or are unsure how to proceed, call a tow truck. If you have Esurance's emergency roadside service, we can come to your rescue anytime, day or night.

Step 1: Turn off the A/C and turn on the heat.

This transfers the heat away from your engine and into the car. It's not pleasant on a hot day but it's helpful. Also, try to avoid riding the brakes, which increases the load on the engine.

Step 2: Pull over to a safe place (if the problem persists).

Turn off your engine ASAP and pop the hood. But don't do anything just yet.

Step 3: Wait for the engine to cool.

This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Sometimes you'll hear a sizzling sound if the engine is still hot. You might also see steam rising.

Step 4: Open the radiator cap (slowly) with a thick rag.

Turn it slowly to release some pressure. Keep your face out of the way in case steam or hot water sprays out.

Step 5: Check your coolant (aka antifreeze) level.

If the level's low, fill it up to a couple inches below the cap (so it's covering the tubes inside the radiator). Your engine prefers a refreshing 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water, but plain water will do in a pinch.

Step 6: Wait a few more minutes.

Give your engine some time to cool completely, then put the radiator cap back on.

Step 7: Start the engine and check the temperature gauge.

If it's back in the normal zone, drive straight to a repair shop for an expert assessment. An overheating car could be a sign of a bigger problem, like a leak in your cooling system.

If it's still in the red, turn the car off again and call a tow truck. No use risking it.

Step 8: High-five yourself!

Hey, it takes patience and know-how to bring your car's temperature back down and keep your cool in the heat of the moment.

How to avoid having your car overheat

Though overheating engines rarely afflict today's autos, it never hurts to give your car a once-over occasionally. Check your coolant level to make sure you have the amount recommended by your owner's manual, especially before taking a long road trip.

And of course, following your car's maintenance schedule never hurts either.

A step-by-step guide to changing a flat

Here are the tools you'll need to change your tire:

  • A spare tire (of course)
  • A jack (to lift the car)
  • A lug nut wrench or tire iron (to remove and tighten the lug nuts)
  • A tire block (to keep the car from rolling)

The first 3 items come with your car and are usually stored in the trunk. The tire block doesn't come with the car, but we recommend buying one and storing it with the other tools.

Calling in the cavalry

If at any point you feel unsure, call a roadside service provider for help. If you have emergency road service (ERS) on your Esurance policy, this is a great time to use it. Call the number on the back of your ERS card or use your smartphone to access Esurance Mobile's "nearby shops & services" feature.

Step 1: Find a safe place to pull over and turn on your hazards.

Shut off your engine and engage the parking brake.

Don't attempt to change your tire on a hill — that whole rolling thing could be pretty dangerous. If you're on the freeway, try to exit rather than change your tire on the shoulder. But remember that driving on a flat tire will damage the rim so use your best judgment.

Step 2: Get the tire block in place.

To avoid rolling, place the tire block under the tire on the opposite corner of the one you're changing. So, if you're changing the front right tire, the block would go behind the back left one.

Step 3: Remove the hubcap/wheel cover and loosen the lug nuts.

Use the lug nut wrench (what else?) to loosen all the lug nuts (lefty-loosey), but don't remove them just yet.

Step 4: Lift the car with the jack.

Check your manual to find the best spot to position the car jack before you begin (each car model may be different), and make sure the ground is stable under the jack. Use fluid, even strokes when lifting the car. The wheel should be completely off the ground.

Just a reminder: never put your body underneath a car lifted by a car jack in case the vehicle slips off.

Step 5: Remove the flat tire.

Take off the loosened lug nuts and put them to the side. Remove the tire slowly, using both hands. Lay the tire down flat so it doesn't roll away from you.

Step 6: Put on the spare tire.

Glide the spare tire onto the tire bolts, pushing it back as far as it can go.

Step 7: Replace the lug nuts.

Put the lug nuts back on the tire bolts in an alternating star pattern. Tighten them by hand as much as you can (righty-tighty). You'll secure them more completely with the wrench in a moment.

Step 8: Clean up.

Slowly lower the vehicle. Give each of the lug nuts one last clockwise turn with the wrench to make sure they're secure, and replace the hubcap or wheel cover (if you have one). High five yourself. You're now ready to drive.

Driving on your spare tire

Because spare tires aren't designed for long-term use (as you can tell by their funny look), drive slower than normal and immediately head to a tire dealership or repair shop to find a replacement tire. Many spare tires have a max speed written somewhere on their surfaces — stay under it to avoid a blowout.

On the road again

For added safe-driver bonus points, print this out and keep it with your spare tire kit. If you'd like to find out more about Esurance's emergency road service coverage, give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) anytime, day or night.

Guide to the perfect parallel park

Parallel parking will become second nature once you've learned how to do it correctly. As you can see in these parallel parking tips, all you need is a little bit of patience and practice.

Step 1: Find a space that's at least 4 to 6 feet longer than your ride.

This will allow plenty of room for both your car and those around you. By remembering these parallel parking dimensions, you'll prevent dents and scrapes while you straighten out your car (later in the process).

Step 2: Use your turn signal.

Turning on your signal lets the drivers behind you know what's up, so they can give you plenty of space (and hopefully some patience). With parallel parking, distance matters. After all, it's something you don't really want an audience for.

Step 3: Align your car with the one in front of the space you want.

This is key in making sure your parallel park is on point. Since it's hard to correct a parallel park once a mistake's been made, it's important to start off on the right foot (or shall we say, wheel?).

Step 4: Double-check your blind spots.

Don't just rely on your mirrors — turn your entire body and head to make sure there are no obstacles in your way.

Step 5: Start backing into the space.

Once you know your path is clear, begin slowly backing into the space. Be aware of your surroundings, including your proximity to the cars around you.

Step 6: Turn your steering wheel the opposite direction.

When your front seat lines up with the front car's rear bumper, turn your wheel the other direction to start straightening out.

Step 7: Back into the space (slowly, now) and start straightening out your car.

Allow yourself and other vehicles enough room to transition out of the space once it's time to leave. Your vehicle should end up about 6 inches from the curb once your parallel park is complete.

Step 8: Give yourself a pat on the back.

Phew! That wasn't so hard, was it? Ok, maybe a little. But you did it! In time, you'll master these steps to parallel parking. But don't get too frustrated or upset if you fail to nail it at the first attempt (it took us a while, too).

Guide to using RepairView® — online repair monitoring

It's just another carefree day behind the wheel, until … uh oh, you've just had an accident. Looks like it's time to file a claim.

Luckily, Esurance has RepairView

Step 1: Start your claim

Esurance customers can get their claims started online, over the phone, or on our smartphone app.

Step 2: Find a repair shop

Esurance can help you find a repair shop in the area. And when you take your car to an Esurance approved shop, the repairs are guaranteed for as long as you own the car. Plus, all Esurance approved shops offer RepairView.

Step 3: Check up on your car

Just log in to your customized account to view daily photos of the repair and share them on Facebook.

Step 4: Communicate with the shop

Email the repair shop directly and find out when your car will be ready.

Before you know it, you and your car will be reunited, and it'll feel so good. Now you've got the know-how, pass it on.