A car is a big investment and a big responsibility. People don’t always think about it, but there’s a lot more to owning a car than filling it with gas and driving off into the sunset. If you’re new to owning a car, considering buying your first car, or if you’ve owned cars for years but feel like there’s more you could know, you’re in the right place. Read on to check out our advice on things that all car owners should know.
First, get comfortable under the hood of your vehicle. Chances are, you’re not a mechanic (and if you are, this article probably isn’t going to tell you anything you don’t already know). That being said, you should still make yourself familiar with some of the simpler things under your vehicle’s hood. Know how to find your windshield wiper fluid reservoir, your battery and battery terminals, and where to check and add fluids like oil, transmission fluid, and coolant.
Once you’re familiar with where things are and what they look like, here are some things you should know…
- When your oil needs to be changed, how to check it, and how to add more. The rule of thumb has generally been that you should get your oil changed every 3,000 miles, but if you have a newer vehicle or use synthetic oil and higher quality filters, you can probably go 5,000 or more miles before an oil change. If you drive an older, used vehicle, however, things can be less simple. Professionals with Chuck Patterson Dodge tell us that some older cars may leak or burn oil. If you drive a car like this, it’s a good idea to check your oil more often. When checking your oil, you’ll see if your oil level is getting low, and top it off. You may also notice that your oil is getting darker in color, and have an appearance or odor of being burnt. If this is the case, you may need to get an oi change sooner rather than later.
- How to check your tire pressure and refill your tires. Many newer vehicles have a built-in tire pressure sensor, but if you don’t have one, you should learn how to check it yourself. A simple handheld tire pressure gauge is easy to operate, and you can buy them online or in auto parts stores for as little as 20 dollars. Refilling your tires if they’re losing pressure is important, as driving on underinflated tires can be dangerous, and can make your fuel efficiency worse. Most gas stations have air stations where you can add air for free or for a small charge.
- How to check and “top off” the fluids under your hood. In addition to oil, you should be able to check and top off the other fluids that make your vehicle work. Power steering fluid, transmission fluid, antifreeze, coolant, brake fluid and windshield wiper fluid are all things you should be able to check and add more if need be. The location of all of these should be marked in your owner’s manual.
- How to buy and replace your windshield wiper blades. A lot of people neglect to replace their wiper blades as often as they should. Depending on their quality, and how often they’re used, wiper blades should be replaced once or twice a year. They’re fairly easy to replace, and it’s cheaper to do it yourself than to have it done for you, just make sure you get the right size! Most stores that sell wiper blades will have a booklet in which you can look up the make and model of your vehicle and find the correct blade length.
- What to do if your check engine light comes on. For car owners (especially those with older, used cars that aren’t in as good of shape) the check engine light is a scary thing. After all, that little light could be the harbinger of expensive repairs. The check engine light may come on for a number of reasons, and ultimately, it’s a good idea to bring our car into a shop if it turns on, as the mechanics there can find out for sure. Before you rush to the closest mechanic, though, check your gas cap. If you forgot to screw it back in or didn’t turn it all the way, this will cause the light to come on. If this is the case, bear in mind that you may need to drive for another day or so before the light goes back out.
Obviously, knowing these things isn’t a replacement for the occasional trip to the mechanic. When real repairs need to be done, it’s important to go to a professional. Small, easy maintenance, however, you can save time and money by doing yourself. If you can master these few skills, you can keep your vehicle maintained for years.
Wife, mother, grandma, blogger, all wrapped into one person, although it does not define her these are roles that are important to her. From empty nesters to living with our oldest and 2 grandchildren while our house is rebuilt after a house fire in 10/2018 my life is something new each day.