You love your car but feel helpless when you open the hood. That maze of hoses and wire is daunting; it looks like something you’d need an engineering degree to understand. This should not stop you from performing the basic service checks to keep everything running well and to help you diagnose any potential larger issues which may arise. Following the basic service tips can help even the most uniformed motorist keep their car running well – and we’ve composed a list of the top 5 you should know.
- Check the oil level: Your oil level should be checked several times between oil changes. To check the level, pull out the dipstick (the location of which can be found in your owner’s manual) and wipe it off with a clean rag. Reinsert the dipstick into the tube and pull it out again. The oil level should be between the two notches, or within the hashtag area. If it’s not, remove the oil fill cap and add the correct viscosity oil (refer to the owner’s manual once again, or the oil cap). Add a small amount at a time while rechecking the level in between.
- Check the anti-freeze: Too little anti-freeze can cause overheating, and if you live in a part of the country with cold winters, too little anti-freeze or the wrong concentration can cause severe engine damage. It’s best to check the anti-freeze level in the radiator – not in the overflow bottle. However, make sure you remove the radiator cap when the engine is cold. When the cap is hot to the touch, the cooling system is under a lot of pressure and the cap could blow off, causing personal injury. The anti-freeze level should be right to the top of the radiator neck. If it’s not, add anti-freeze to your vehicle and drive it to the shop immediately to locate the source of the leak. There are many different types of anti-freeze used in vehicles, so consult your owner’s manual to be certain you are adding the right stuff.
In addition to checking the level of your anti-freeze, it’s important to check the concentration before winter hits. If the concentration isn’t strong enough the mixture can freeze, hydro-lock the engine and cause catastrophic damage. Anti-freeze testers can be found at your local auto parts store, come with instructions and are easy to use.
- Pay attention to warning lights and know what they mean: Don’t just ignore your check engine light or that yellow warning lamp that looks like a genie bottle (that’s your oil pressure light by the way) – find out what the warning means and take action immediately. Ignoring warning lights can lead to extensive damage to your vehicle. If you’re unsure of what a light means, look it up in your owner’s manual.
- Check your tires: The condition and pressure of your tires should be monitored on a regular basis. First, take a look at the tread of your tires. It should be worn evenly and measure at least 2/32” to be considered safe. Tread depth can be accurately measured with a treat depth gauge, available at any auto parts store. While inspecting your tires, check the sidewall for cracking or bulges as well, both of which indicate it’s time for tire replacement. Finally, check your tire pressure using a tire pressure gauge. The correct pressure will be listed on a tire placard inside your door jam – not on the side of your tire! The rating on the side of your tire is the maximum pressure your tires is capable of handling, not the optimum pressure. If you need to add air to your tire, take it to a local service station. If the pressure is really low, you may have a leak and your tire should be taken to a repair location for inspection.
- Follow the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual: This could be the most important tip of all. Following the manufacture’s scheduled maintenance guarantees your vehicle is having the services performed, which are crucial to its longevity. It also ensures your car is being inspected by a trained professional on a regular basis.
Your car is the second biggest investment you’ll ever make, so take the time to inspect and service it periodically. You’ll be glad you did.
- Posted by agency-it
- On August 26, 2015