Basic Car Maintenance: Part I

Summer is right around the corner, and with the change in season comes the opportunity to hit the road and explore. Best to make sure, before you do, that your vehicle is up to making the road trip too. So, maybe you’re not a junior mechanic, and you don’t know the difference between a socket wrench and an adjustable wrench? Regardless, if you own a car, you should be aware of a few basic maintenance tips that can prolong the life of your vehicle and make it safer for you and your passengers.

1. Check the oil – Oil is the lifeblood of car’s engine. Just like you can’t keep going without a cup of coffee, a car can’t keep going without the right amount of oil. When you lift up the hood of your car, you’ll see a dipstick that goes directly into the engine. Pull it out, wipe it off, and then dip it back in. If the end of the dipstick is in a range that says “OK” based on the markings, then you have enough oil. If it’s low, then you should add the manufacturer’s recommended type of oil. Remember, the oil should be changed every 5000 kms, or every 8000 if it is synthetic. This will maintain the efficiency and performance of your engine.
2. Tire pressure – Under or over inflated tires can be dangerous. Check your owner’s manual or the sidewall of one of your tires to find out what the recommended pressure is in pounds per square inch (PSI). You can use a tire pressure gauge to check the air pressure, and add or remove air as necessary. Never add too much air, as this can cause the tires to wear out prematurely and even explode. Tires that are too low will also wear out quickly and affect your fuel economy.
3. Fluids – There are many different fluids in a car that are essential to its performance. From coolant fluid to keep the engine cool, to brake fluid to power steering fluid, each one should be checked. The reservoirs for these fluids should be clearly marked under the hood of your car. When you add more, make sure that you are adding fluid that is approved by the manufacturer of your vehicle. In some cases, such as with a power steering pump, the fluid should be flushed out of the system as a part of a regular maintenance schedule. If the power steering fluid begins to look black or the steering wheel become harder to turn, have a mechanic do this as it is more complex than just adding new fluid.

Do you smell something strange when your engine is running, but you aren’t sure what it is? Is the car making funny noises? For anything that you aren’t sure about, consult a certified mechanic. Experts like these will have the skills and expertise to keep your car safe and sound for years to come.

To learn more about maintaining your car, check back for our upcoming post: “Basic Car Maintenance: Part II”!

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