My husband loves cars. He grew up working on everything from farm equipment to race cars with his dad and brothers. So, anytime we are even thinking of getting a new vehicle, he gets very excited. He will log months of painstaking research to find the perfect fit. It is his hobby. On more than a few occasions, he’s promised me a Sonic Blast and then, driven me to a dealership when I thought we were heading home. The man is tricky.
But, this doesn’t come without rewards. He is my mechanic and takes care of all things auto. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tricks from him, so I asked him for his favorite car maintenance tips. I’m not afraid to admit I didn’t know many of these, but number 4 is still my favorite.
8 Things You Should Know About Car Maintenance.
1. Oil Changes – When you take your car either to a dealership, Jiffy Lube or local auto shop to get your oil changed, beware of the upsell. Nine times out of ten, they will find some mysterious issue with your car that needs urgent attention. Instead of the $35 oil change you planned for, you could walk out with a $300 bill. So, no matter what, write down the issues they’re describing and then, take your car, along with the notes, to a recommended or trusted source and have them verify the problem is legitimate. Just remember, if you drove it in, you can drive it out.
2. Auto Part Stores – A little known fact about auto parts stores is they will change your wiper blades and replace your battery onsite for no additional charge. If you need either replaced, go there. They will help you find the right parts and then, install them.
3. Check Engine Lights – When your check engine light comes on, you can figure out what is wrong for less by taking it to an auto parts store. There, you can tell the clerk your check engine light is on and ask to rent the code reader. They will usually help you plug it under your dash to get the error code. You can use this information to diagnose what’s wrong with your car. Take the error code and use it along with your car’s make and model to search for the issue online. Arming yourself with this information means you can feel confident you’re having the right problems fixed instead of racking up extra fees on items that aren’t broken.
4. Car’s Fuel Door – Bought a new car or driven a rental and been unsure where the gas tank is as you pull into the station? If you look at the fuel gauge on your dash, there is a small arrow or triangle by the picture of the gas pump. It will point to the side your tank is on. (Genius.)
5. Nail In Your Tire? – If you have a nail in your tire, it may not need to be replaced. Any good repair shop can usually patch or plug a nail hole. This should cost between $25 – $40 instead of hundreds buying on a new tire. That being said, this fix won’t work if the nail is in the sidewall or if it is within a 1/2 inch of the edge of the tire.
6. Tires – Here’s a quick trick to see if you need new tires. Take a penny and turn it upside down. Insert Abe Lincoln in between the tread of the tire. If Abe’s head doesn’t touch the tread, your tires are too worn and ready to be replaced.
7. Battery vs. Alternator – Your battery starts your engine, and your alternator keeps your battery charged.
A. If your car won’t start and you’re able to jump it (and keep it running), then, you need a new battery. Take it to an auto parts store where they will install one for you. Keep the car running until you arrive at your destination.Otherwise, you won’t be able to start it again.
B. If you jump your car and it dies after a few minutes, you need an alternator. You’ll likely need to have it towed to your favorite mechanic. (Yuck.)
8. Jump Start – Here’s how to jump start your car. Point the two cars so they are facing each other. Make sure the healthy car is running. Open the hoods and connect the batteries with jumper cables. Make sure the red clamp goes on the red terminal (knob on the battery). Match the black clamp to the black terminal (knob on the battery). Wait 5 minutes. Then, you should be able to start the other car and keep it running if the battery is the problem. Keep the car running until you arrive at your destination. Otherwise, you won’t be able to start it again.