Saving money is on the minds of many Americans these days. Many of us are looking for ways to cut costs and save on unnecessary expenditures. One of the ways that you can limit the amount you are paying in bills is to learn some basic car maintenance skills.
While you are probably not going to become a full-time mechanic during the pandemic, with a little research and practice, you can develop some useful experience that will help keep your car running smoothly. You will also require less trips to an actual mechanic which can be notoriously expensive due to labor costs.
If you are the sort of driver who has hardly even looked under a car’s hood, you will want to make sure you have your car’s manual handy. This often-overlooked resource has a wealth of knowledge for your car’s particular make and model. Manuals include convenient explanations for all the warning lights on your dashboard as well as what replacement parts your car requires. Your manual will also tell you where to find key components of your car, such as the oil
Checking your fluids – Knowing what fluids you need to check and how to do so is crucial for any driver. You should periodically check your oil, coolant, and power steering levels. To check your oil, make sure your car has been turned off for at least ten minutes to give it time to cool down. Locate the oil dipstick and pull it out, wiping it clean with a paper towel.
Re-insert the oil dipstick into its tube and pull out the stick again. Examine the dipstick to determine whether the oil level is near the maximum level. If low, add the correct type of oil (check the manual to determine which type) to your oil fill tank. You can find steps for checking your other fluids in this Popular Mechanics article.
Changing your air filter – Changing your engine air filter is one of the easiest maintenance steps there is, yet mechanics often charge quite a bit for this service. Your car has two air filters, one near the engine (under the hood) and one in the “cabin” (under the glove compartment). First, make sure to purchase the correct filter for your car. You can go to an auto store like AutoZone, and the employees can help you determine which filter is appropriate for your specific vehicle.
To change your engine filter, look for a large black box-like object under the hood. Check your manual for exact placement. Changing the filter is often a matter of simply opening the box, discarding the old filter, and inserting the new one into the box.
For more information about changing the engine filter and steps for changing your cabin filter, see this article from Angie’s List.
Learn how to jump a dead car battery – At some time or another, virtually every driver has the experience of trying to start a car only to realize the battery is dead. If you would normally call for roadside assistance in this scenario, save yourself some time and money by learning how to jump-start your car. Have a friend or helpful passerby bring their car close to yours, making sure they do not touch. Have a pair of jumper cables ready.
Turn off both cars and clamp a positive cable end to the dead car’s positive battery clamp. Then have the other driver connect the other end of the positive cable to their car’s positive battery clamp. Next, connect one negative cable to the working car’s negative battery clamp. The last step is to connect the remaining negative cable to the engine block of the dead car. Do not let the two cable ends touch each other.
Start the car with the good battery, and then start the car with the dead battery. Both cars should now be charged. In order to disconnect the cables, take them off in the reverse order of how you put them on. For more details and safety tips you should be aware of when jumping a car, refer to this article from Consumer Reports.
Learning just a few maintenance skills can keep your car running longer and save you from taking extra trips to the car repair shop.