So, you have just bought your first car as an automotive enthusiast and you don’t want anything to happen to it. Also, I am guessing you would like to save as much money as possible on car maintenance after the free service period is over. So how does one go about this? Don’t worry, I have you covered. Also the “dummies” in the title refers to people like me. So don’t worry. Let’s check out some basic car tips to help you get started.
Read the Manual
Different cars have different needs. Thus, it is extremely important to read every individual cars’ manual. You wouldn’t use a microwave without reading a manual. You should extent the same courtesy to your car. Reading the manual let’s you know when you need to service your car and which specific parts need to replaced at what times for best performance .
Alternatively, you can try a generic guide for car maintenance. Usually, your car manual also has a map of all the nearby service stations. So, after reading this article, if you decide you can’t handle it, you know where to go!
Know your Dashboard Warning Lights
It is estimated that around 50% car owners don’t know what the symbols on their dash mean. Knowing what each of those lines mean is the first step towards fixing your car. You can refer to this guide to know which lights mean you’re in trouble.
Now, if you have decided to go to service center anyway, it is not necessary that you know what is wrong with the car. They will take care of it. However, having this basic knowledge will help you avoid unnecessary repairs that these service centers sometimes add to profit. So, either way, it is best if you know what the Red, Yellow and Green lights are.
If they don’t see you rollin’, they won’t be hatin’. Tires are some of the easiest things to maintain. First of, remember to mention the correct tire pressure. Remember we talked about the user manual? It has the correct tire pressure mentioned in it for each individual tyre. You could buy a tire pressure monitoring system to do this on your own. But, if you are too lazy, take it to any service station and (usually,) they will do it for free.
Then you are also supposed to take care of the tread pattern. If your tread is too worn out, you will need to replace the tire. Worn out treads are a major cause of accidents since they don’t allow you brake or turn properly.
One way to avoid wearing of the tire tread is to rotate your tires every few thousand kilometers. Here is how you rotate the tires.
Finally, cleaning the brakes from dust is important as well. Use a simple wet cloth / sponge and water to clean the brake discs / drums to improve the braking power of your car.
There are three main things to check in your engine. Belts are used to make multiple gears rotate simultaneously using each others’ force. Check your belts for any tears or signs of excessive wear. We recommend you go service station to fix this.
Next up is checking the engine oil. This is used for lubrication of all parts inside the engine. If your engine oil is running low, then your engine won’t perform at optimum levels which will lead to higher fuel consumption. The oil also helps reduce the temperatures up to a certain extent. To do this, take out the dip stick shown in the diagram, wipe it with a cloth and then check the level again for an accurate reading. If the oil levels are running low, get some engine oil for your car and fill it up close to the full point level.
Finally, you need to check the coolant levels. This is a translucent white bottle usually. It helps keep the engine functioning at optimum levels. Let the engine cool down properly, and then check the coolant level. Otherwise, you might burn yourself. Ensure that the coolant is between high and low and towards the higher side but not in excess. Buy some coolant if you need it.
Sometimes, due to friction or due to small specs of dirt, some of the wipers may get degraded. This can cause some small scratches on your windshield thus creating an eyesore. It is thus important to clean the wipes as frequently as possible. You can also replace the windscreen fluid that washes the glass to effectively clean the windscreen. This is useful when you are travelling fast and some bugs just don’t know how to avoid your windscreen. Maintain this windscreen liquid at a relatively high level by buying it yourself when needed. Some additives contain antifreeze for better performance. Worst case scenario – you have to replace the wipers.
Body and Paint
This is essentially to keep your car looking shiny and new all the time. You have to ensure that you cover all the scratches and wax / wash your car regularly. The interior is just as important as the exterior. There are many interior shampoos available that dry quickly leaving your car looking better than it did in the showroom. You can find more about car care products and where to use which product in this post.
It is usually advised that you do not try messing with the electrical parts since it is quite dangerous. However, if you feel you have some basic knowledge and can handle it, remember to unplug the battery first. First unplug the negative and then the positive terminal. This will prevent short circuits if you make any mistake. While putting it back on, do the positive first and then the negative.
After disconnecting the battery, check the battery terminals. Dirty terminals aren’t effective in transferring electricity. You can also use check the current flow of the car battery using a suitable multimeter. After cleaning, you should be good to go.
If your lights seem to be malfunctioning, try replacing it after consulting a suitable auto company or your neighbourhood mechanic. While removing the light, it is important not to touch the interior. It might get coated with grease which may cause it to heat up a lot and thus crack leading to the leakage of halogen gas.
A few more tips to help you understand
Of course, there a lot more elements to it. But it’s best to learn the basics first. Follow this line of car maintenance posts and soon you’ll be like Vin Diesel fixing your own car part by part.