How much do you know about the inner workings of your car truck? It’s all right if you’re not an automotive engineer. Of course, if you are, this article probably isn’t for you because this a list of the 10 basic things every motorist should be able to do.
10. Adding Windshield Wiper Fluid
Unobstructed visibility is critical to safe driving, helping ensure your vehicle’s windshield is clear of precipitation and road grime is washer fluid. Unfortunately, it couldn’t be simpler to keep the reservoir filled with plenty of this refreshing looking but poisonous liquid. Just pop the hood and look for a cap like this. They’re usually blue for easy spotting.
Then let’s pop it off. Topper up. But fluid is only half the equation.
9. Changing Windshield Wipers
Occasionally you’re going to need a fresh set of windshield wipers, which is, of course, point number nine on this list. Luckily, it’s also an easy task to swap them as they essentially clip into place to release a blade. There’s often a small button that you push. Other times they slide into a hook on the end of the arm. In either case, the blade shouldn’t be overly difficult to swap out.
So give it a try next time they’re smearing rather than wiping.
8. Checking Motor Oil
Another mission-critical vehicle component is engine oil and it’s super easy to check provided you don’t own an electric cars as they lack. Crankcase is full of lubricant or a modern BMW, which of course don’t have dipsticks. Keeping an eye on the oil is a snap. Just make sure the vehicle sitting on a relatively level surface. And if you just parked it, wait a few minutes.
As the oil may not have completely drained back into the pan, which could result in a false reading. With all that out of the way, simply pull the dipstick out, wipe it off with a rag or piece of paper towel and stick it back into the tube from whence it came. Then pull her out again and read the level. If the oil shows between the low and full marks, you’re good to go. Of course, if you are always looking to save money, you should check out our list of Top 8 Ways to Prevent Costly Vehicle Repairs.
7. Adding Motor Oil
Now, this is a case where more is not better. Having an overabundance of oil in an engine can be just as bad as not enough. In fact, it can lead to aeration and many other issues. So basically keep it between the marks and you should be all set.
But if the engine is low on lube, every driver should also be able to top off the crankcase. Just locate the filler cap, which should look something like this, then pour a bit of oil down in there, make sure it’s the correct viscosity. No, no, no, not that wait a minute or so and check the dipstick again to avoid overfilling. Add small amounts until the correct level is a cheat. Car engines typically take between four and five quarts, though this does vary around thirty five hundred food truck with the coming straight six diesel requires three gallons of dinosaur juice.
Just make sure to check the owner’s manual for specific details.
But taking this a step further, you could also change the oil and filter, which usually isn’t that difficult.
If you could do this, sir or madam, you have just made your do it yourself bonus points.
6. Checking Tire Pressure
Next, let’s talk about the only part of your vehicle that should ever touch the road. Yes, that would be the tires. Point number six, all motorists should be able to check their tire pressure. Again, this is a very simple task. Just remove the valve stem cap and stick a gauge firmly over the end, make sure it sits well so no air leaks out around the edges, something that could lead to an inaccurate measurement.
Now, unless there are special circumstances, of course, it’s best to maintain the factory recommended pressure, which is displayed on a placard usually near the driver’s side door, jam, inflate or deflate as required.
5. Changing a Flat Tire
And while we’re in this area, every driver should be able to change a flat tire. Though unfortunately, temporary spares have become less and less common, replaced by space and weight saving emergency inflation.
Kids still the ability to jack a vehicle up, remove an offending flat and install a spare tire is an important skill to have, especially if you get a flat for cell phone service is not available. And remember, that’s lefty tity, right? Righty. Lucy just stripped the threads and back off half a turn. You’ll be fine. Also, add major bonus points if you’re able to rotate those tires, a process that’s a bit more time consuming, though the payoff, of course, is prolong tire life.
If your ride is newer, you’ll probably also have to reprogram the tire pressure monitoring system so it accurately shows where each tire is located.
4. Jump Starting a Car
Now, point number four, on this list of things every motorist should be able to do is jump start a vehicle that has a dead battery.
Of course, this requires a set of cables, a car, a truck that’s fully charged and a little bit of know how when attempting this. The most important thing is making sure you do not mix up the leads. A positive terminal must connect to a positive terminal, negative to negative. If you switch them around, very bad things will happen. A helpful hint to prevent this is that the color red is associated. With positive and black, with negative, also in modern vehicles, the negative cable doesn’t necessarily have to connect directly to the battery as the negative side is grounded to the engine and body structure.
So an engine bracket or metal part of the body will work just as well as a terminal. But if you’re in doubt, go for the battery. Fresh air is a wonderful thing. It’s as necessary to life as it is to your engine. You see, without a free flowing supply of oxygen, internal combustion simply cannot take place.
And that’s why it’s important to keep tabs on your vehicle’s air filter. If it’s clogged with dirt and debris, it won’t flow as much as it should reducing your engines output.
3. Replacing the Engine Air Filter
But the good news is they’re usually cheap and relatively easy to replace. Now, this will vary from one vehicle to another. But in many modern cars and trucks, the air filter is found underneath a large rectangular housing with the lid held in place by screws or clips. In either case, just pop it off to gain access to the filter itself. The new element should drop right in, but make sure to orient it in the same way as the old one.
The pleats need to face the incoming air to capture as much dirt as possible.
Many vehicles are also equipped with cabin air filters, and they clean the air before it enters the system.
Depending on make and model, these can be easier or much harder to replace than an engineer a filter.
But give yourself even more bonus points if you’re capable of this maintenance item.
2. Inspecting the Serpentine Belt
Next up, point number two, every driver should be able to inspect their car or truck serpentine belt, provided the part in question isn’t concealed by layer after layer of plastic shrouds. It should be a snap to give a quick once over if the belt shows heavy abrasion, cracking across the grooves lengthwise, tearing or other obvious signs of damage. You’ll want to replace it sooner than later and award yourself some super bonus points if you can tackle this job on your own.
In theory, the process is simple, but it often feels like you need two extra sets of hands to get the belt position exactly where it needs to be with the tension release. And remember, proper routing is critical for all accessories to function.
1. Checking the Cooling System
Finally, every driver out there should be able to give their engines cooling system a good once over, critically important, yet often ignored like that exercise equipment you bought around the holidays in 2007. Cooling systems have to cope with scorching summer heat and arctic cold.
Keep an eye out for swelled, chafed, cracked or weeping hoses they are fixing to burst, which will leave you stranded. Also, make sure there’s enough coolant in the overflow reservoir. Add more as required. And of course, if it looks like the antifreeze is discolored or rusty, it means the cooling system is long overdue to be flushed out, something you can do yourself if you fancy earning even more bonus points.
And there you have it, 10 simple vehicle maintenance items every driver should be able to tackle. How many of these things can you do and how many bonus points did you earn? If your problems require more than the ten we have outlined, do not hesitate to contact Davies Auto Care.