The economy faced some tight curve balls in the beginning of this year from stay at home orders and businesses closing. One unexpected economic effect is the uptick in car sales. More people began buying cars to avoid the confined spaces of public transportation. Whether you’re one of these new “COVID car” owners or you’ve just gotten your license and will be using the family car, there is so much to know about car care and maintenance. Before you get overwhelmed, we’ve come up with a list of basic things to know about car maintenance to get you accustomed to taking care of your vehicle.
Here are 5 Things to Get You Started with Car Care
1. When and How to Fill Your Gas Tank
Most if not all cars now have a low fuel warning. Some even tell you how many miles you have left before completely running out of gas to help you get the most out of your fuel. Get used to recognizing when your vehicle’s fuel warning light comes on, or even when the gauge hit’s a quarter tank. All drivers should avoid driving with their tanks near empty to avoid running out of gas or damaging the car’s fuel system.
Also, get comfortable with the gas pump. Understanding the process from unhooking the gas cap to filling the tank will help decrease the chance of something going wrong, such as gas spills or debris falling in your tank.
2. Monitoring Tire Pressure
Another indicator light for new drivers to be aware of is one that warns of tire pressure issues. Once tires are inflated, they like to remain around a certain amount of pressure, often determined by the type of car you drive.
Tire pressure gauges are relatively inexpensive, as most can be purchased for under $20. They’re also small enough to keep in your glove box. When your indicator light flicks on, take out your gauge and check it against the recommended pressure for your vehicle (written on the driver’s side door jam). Remember: temperature affects your tire pressure - Cold air decreases and warm air increases!
3. Battery Care
In addition to running out of gas, the dreaded dead battery is another way you may not be getting to your destination. New drivers should familiarize themselves with the basics of battery care, such as that it is charged by driving your car so it’s best to drive it for extended periods regularly. You should make sure your battery is secure and prevent corrosion with proper cleaning. Lastly, don’t leave your lights on or your phone/GPS system plugged in overnight. That will also drain your battery.
4. Replacing Windshield Wiper Fluid
Learning how to refill the windshield wiper fluid reservoir is a simple skill that you can learn to become comfortable with your vehicle’s mechanics. First, you can determine when you’re in need of new fluid when you notice your wiper jets not spraying as much as they typically would. Alternatively, you can manually check the reservoir indicator.
Under the hood, the reservoir pipe is often stamped with a windshield wiper/water symbol and is a different color than the rest of the engine. You might find using a funnel helpful in pouring new liquid. Also, be aware that untreated wiper fluid can freeze, so you may want to purchase special fluid for the winter months.
5. How to Tell What’s Leaking
On the note of fluids, there are tons of fluids involved in keeping a car running. To avoid panicking when you notice a liquid leak from under your vehicle, here are some common fluids that may pool under your car:
Water: Easiest to identify as it’s clear and often absorbed by the ground
Motor oil: Brown or black in color and slick to the touch
Transmission fluid: red or pink and slick to the touch
Coolant: yellow, green, or pink
Power steering fluid: red or brown with a slightly sweet or burnt smell
While there is quite a bit of information to learn about your car, we hope this short list could get you started. If you want help better caring for your car, contact or come by your local Metro Motor. Our top notch mechanics would love to help you master your machine.