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You and Your Car 101
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Whether you’re sixteen or you’re sixty, there are just some things every automobile owner should know. We understand you might not know everything about auto repair. Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t know what’s going on, but you think it might be too late to ask? That was pretty much us in Biology. Luckily we’re going to help you with a quick course on what you should know to keep your car healthy, running, and give you a few tips to get you out of a sticky situation.
Checking Your Engine Oil
Your engine oil is such an essential component to your car, and could save you (or cost you) hundreds of dollars in on your auto repair bill. Oil lubricates the moving parts in the engine, helps prevent overheating, and ensures that it’s not wearing down too quickly. Most models now will notify you if the oil is getting low, but sometimes faulty equipment or warnings can come too late. Every other time you’re waiting at the pump, go ahead and pop open the hood. Make sure your engine is off and that your car is on level ground. You’ll be looking for a dipstick, usually marked by a noticeable color. Wipe it down with a clean rag, and reinsert the dipstick, finally pulling it out once more. There should be indicators ranging from a MIN/MAX, cross marking, or two dots that indicate the level of your oil. Make sure the top of the oil streak is between the two markings and notice the color. We’re aiming for a sweet tea color for your oil, not a black coffee color. If your oil is too low, look through your car’s manual to see what type of oil it takes. After taking off the oil filler cap, slowly add oil half a quart at a time. Be careful because you don’t want to overfill it.
While the hood is already up, you’ll want to check other fluids for your car as well. How about your windshield wiper fluid? That’s the blue (most likely) liquid. Brake fluid and power steering fluid? These are usually marked with a minimum and maximum line, and should be in between these two markers.
Checking Your Tire Pressure
Having a tire pressure gauge is a very inexpensive tool that can help prevent an expensive auto repair. Your tires are what is keeping you off the ground, and daily maintenance can help reduce risk or injury. Over inflated or under inflated tires can cause blowouts, and depending on where that happens could leave your heart racing. Newer cars are required to have a TPMS, or Tire Pressure Monitoring System, that warn you when your tire pressure is too low. But how low is that? When you open your driver side door there should be a label inside that tells you the correct tire pressure for each tire. Screw off the caps, and press the tire pressure gauge until you don’t hear a “hiss” anymore. If it matches up, congratulations. You won’t need a new set the next time you’re in for an auto repair.
Jumping a Car
Sometimes your day doesn’t go as planned and your battery dies. Sometimes it is a random person in the parking lot that it’s happening too. Instead of leaving them high and dry, having jumper cables in your car can turn you from an ordinary citizen to local hero. But how do you use these bad boys? They’re separated into two different colors, red and black. Red is the positive end (+) and black is the negative (-). Start with the “donor” car and go red-red-black-frame on any metal part of the car that is not painted. Turn on the donor car and wait just a few seconds before turning on the “dead” car. Your battery can be checked whenever you come in for an auto repair, and it is recommended that you change it every 3 years.
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