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Your car can be your savior or your downfall, depending on how you treat her. Since information is the foundation for all learning, buy the service manual for your vehicle and read all of it. Doing this will take all of the guesswork out of performing these services. Join us as we share some basic car maintenance every guy should know. Oh, and Lefty Loosie, Righty Tighty!
Oil And Filter Change
This is hands-down the most important car maintenance tip that every guy should know how to do. Oil is the true lifeblood of a vehicle. Without proper attention, low levels of old and dirty oil will cause extra engine wear and increased temperatures. Follow the instructions in your service manual, and after about 30 minutes of your time and very basic tools, you’ll be be back out there cruising.
Maintaining The Cooling System
This would be the second most important type of service for your vehicle. It’s very important to the health and longevity of your car, for you to be familiar with the system that keeps your engine cool (in the summer and also from freezing in the winter). Always keep a gallon of the proper coolant/anti-freeze in your trunk for emergencies. Follow your service manual for tips, and never open the radiator/reservoir cap while the engine is hot.
Replace Windshield Wipers
If you can’t see, you can’t drive. Unless you live and drive in a rain forest, you may go weeks without using your wipers. If they become brittle from the sun’s pounding rays, you may be in for a rude awakening when you need them during a surprise downpour. The task is simple and inexpensive (Don’t forget to refill the washer fluid as well).
Know Your Fuse Boxes
Many times, when an electrical component fails to work, we think it’s the part that’s at fault. Rather than replacing your radio or brake lights, check the fuse that controls the part first. There are diagrams for all of the fuses in both of the fuse boxes (usually, one in the engine compartment and one in the area near the gas pedal) and they will lead you to the suspect fuse.
Replace Air Filters
Many car owners tend to forget about replacing the air filters (yes, there are two; the engine filter, and the cabin air filter). A clean engine air filter gives your engine the proper air to fuel mixture ratio to give you the highest fuel efficiency (cabin air filters keep your interior air free of engine dirt and dust particles).
Check Exterior Lights
Besides keeping you safe while driving, making sure all of your exterior lights are working, will keep you from that completely avoidable ticket. A great way to do this is to pull into a gas station and use their windows to test all of the (headlight, tail light, reverse, and directional) bulbs. Check your service manual for the (usually simple) steps to replace a burned out light.
Many car guys out there tend to forget about their battery until that fateful day (or worse, night) when they turn the key and hear those heart-stopping clicks! While many new batteries are “maintenance free”, you should always take a look at the cables and connectors while you are under the hood. Keep an eye out for fraying cables or a buildup of white corrosion on the terminal posts and/or connectors. If you do need to remove the cables to clean the connections, always take the negative (black) cable off first.
The braking system, on the whole, is a bit too complicated to cover here but, you can stay ahead of some scary close calls by checking the parts of the system that are visible under the hood. Locate the master cylinder reservoir and check it for any leaks at the brake line connections . When you go to check the fluid level, make sure the top of the cap and reservoir neck are clean. Letting dirt fall into the tank can cause clogs and lead to a failure in braking performance.
This is, as they say, where the rubber meets the road. Don’t neglect your tires if you want to stay upright and in lane. Just eye-balling the sidewalls for low pressure won’t cut it. Get yourself a reliable tire pressure gauge and use it every other week. Of course, know what the proper inflation is meant to be and while you’re down there, check the tread for uneven wear. OK guys, enjoy your ride and always keep it shiny side up!