Are you clueless about cars? Vacuous when it comes to vehicles? Never fear: these five simple maintenance tips will have you looking under the bonnet like a pro in no time at all.
Owning a car is about more than just being able to drive it. If you’ve just bought your first car, you’ll need to learn how to maintain it. Not only will a bit of knowledge about car maintenance keep your car running smoothly and save you big bucks, it can also make you look smart in front of your friends.
You don’t have to have a qualification in mechanics to keep your car maintained either. These five simple skills are quick and easy to learn, and in some cases they could even save your life.
How to check the tyre pressure
Under and over inflated tyres can be dangerous as they make your car more difficult to handle, and can cause blow-outs on the road. You should check your tyres for drops in pressure at least once a month, and also before and after a road trip. It’s also important to check your tyres for wear and tear.
To check your tyre pressure you need to know the pressure rating for your car first. Every car is different, but you can find the information in your manual, on driver side door or sometimes underneath the petrol cap.
Take a pressure gauge and pop it into the valve of your tyre. If the gauge shows a higher pressure than required, let a little bit of air out. If it’s underinflated, use the air pump to get it to the right level.
How to check your car battery
Clean batteries last longer than dirty ones, so it makes sense that keeping an eye on your battery will save you a lot of money in the long run. Remember to stay safe when you work on your battery: turn the engine off and disconnect it by removing the negative cable first and replacing it last.
The first thing to look for is white deposits around the positive and negative terminals. These are caused by battery acid. You can clean it up with baking soda, water, and an old toothbrush. Dry it with a clean rag, making sure no lint gets left behind. Give the battery cables a quick check, making sure they’re not frayed or damaged. Also check the battery case and terminals for cracks. If you see any major damage, get a replacement immediately.
How to deal with chips and dents
If you have a chip in your windscreen it’s important to get it dealt with right away. Not only do they impair your vision, but they can also lead to the glass cracking meaning you may require windscreen replacement. Although this isn’t a repair you can make at home, it is an easy situation to fix simply by getting in touch with a car glass company. They can sometimes do the repair work for free, depending on your insurance policy.
There are a few methods for fixing dents quickly at home, depending on the size and placement of the damage. As an alternative to hammering out dents out from the inside, Life Hacker recommends applying heat with a hairdryer followed by chilled air. Do this from a distance, so you don’t burn your paintwork. Apply the compressed air for around 20 seconds, until the change in temperature causes the dent to pop out.
How to check the oil level
It’s best to do this when your engine is cool, so if you’ve just been driving wait for five minutes so that the oil has time to settle.
Take the dipstick out of the engine (you’ll know it by the loop at the top) and wipe it on a clean paper towel. Put it back in for ten seconds, then take it out and look at how far up the stick the oil reaches.
Make sure that it’s between the minimum and maximum marks, If it’s not, top it up. Do this slowly, and keep checking with the dipstick to make sure the oil level is correct as you go along.
How to replace a headlight
First find out what kind of bulb your car uses so you know which ones to buy. Pop your hood open and look around the back of the headlight for the bulb holder: usually a trapezoid shape with around three wires sticking out of it. Take the holder out: depending on your bulb type, there are a few ways to do this. Take the old bulb out and put the new one in, handling the new bulb carefully to avoid getting grease on it. It’s as simple as that.
So next time you have a simple problem with your car, run through these maintenance tips.