Basic Vehicle Maintenance Tips

All vehicle owners aim to keep their vehicle running well to avoid trips to the garage. While a trip to the garage may be inevitable at some point, there are some basic maintenance tips that all car owners can handle to keep their car running. There are many simple things you can do on your own such as checking oil, keeping tires properly inflated, and changing a battery. Continue reading for some basic car maintenance tips.

Tire Maintenance

You should regularly check tire pressure as it can affect the handling of the vehicle in addition to fuel economy and comfort. Many newer cars have tire pressure sensors and will let you know when you need to inflate your tires. If you do not have this feature in your car, it is a good idea to check your tire pressure approximately once a week. Along with checking tire pressure, you should also keep an eye on tire tread. Once the tread begins to wear on your tires, you should replace them to maintain good traction and control when driving.

If you own a car, you should also consider learning how to change a tire. This can help prevent you from becoming stranded or having to wait hours for roadside assistance. You should make sure you have a spare tire, and all of the tools needed to change a tire. You should also periodically check the air pressure on your spare tire so that if you do ever need it, you will know that it is not flat.

Engine Maintenance

One of the most important aspects of maintaining your engine is making sure that it has enough but not too much oil. Everyone can check their oil as its a quick and easy process. If your oil is too low or even too high, it can cause issues with your engine. To check your oil level, make sure the car is parked on level ground and wait for it to cool down. Once the engine is cool, you will pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean with a rag, then push it back into the tube. Give it a minute, and then pull the dipstick back out at which point you will check the oil. Your dipstick will have high and low marks and your oil level should be in between these two marks. If your oil is low, you should add a bit at a time, checking the levels in between. Refer to your owners manual to ensure you are using the correct type of oil for your engine.

Another important fluid that should be regularly checked is coolant. If you engine is not getting enough coolant, it can overheat and cause major problems. Coolant is normally held in a semi transparent reservoir, making it easy to check the level. Your engine should be cool before you check your coolant levels. The bottle the coolant is held in will have low and high markings and the coolant level should be between the two. If necessary, add coolant until the level is between the low and high markings. When checking coolant levels, it is really important that the engine is cool and that the radiator cap is not removed. If the system is still hot, then the cap will be under pressure and could burn you upon release.

Installing a Car Battery

You should know how to disconnect and reconnect a battery. This is helpful not only if you need a new battery but also if you need to do any work on the vehicle's electrical system, in which case the battery should be disconnected. To disconnect the battery, loosen the connector on the negative terminal first and move the cable out of the way. The positive connector can then be removed if you need to take the battery out. You should always disconnect the negative side of the battery first so that you are cutting of the return path for the electrical current.

When reconnecting or installing a new battery, the positive terminal should be connected first, followed by the negative terminal. This is also a good time to check your battery terminals to make sure that the contacts are clean as dirty contacts can make it difficult for the electrical current to pass through.

How to Check Lights

For safety purposes, it is important to make sure that all of your lights are working correctly including headlights, brake lights, and blinkers. It is usually easy to tell if you have a blinker out because it will flash quicker than the other side when you use your directional. Blinker bulbs are usually easy to replace and can be found at most auto parts stores. If you need to change a headlight, it may require a bit more work. When putting in a new headlight, it is important to not tough the glass. Many headlights have a special coating and are filled with halogen. If you touch the glass, it can leave behind oils from your fingerprints. When the lights are on, the areas that were touched will then get hotter than the rest of the bulb, causing a crack. To prevent cracks, only touch the metal holder at the base of the bulb or wear rubber gloves when changing your lights.

If you take proper care of your car, it will likely last much longer. Some basic maintenance can go a long way in the life of your car and will often save you money on expensive repairs in the future. For more care maintenance tips, visit the pages below.

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