When you buy a new car, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all. It’s important to remember, however, that once you buy a vehicle, you own a vehicle, and there’s a lot more to it than tearing up the streets. If you’re new to car ownership, or know a young person who’s considering buying their first vehicle, read and share this list of things every car owner should know!
First things first: get comfortable getting under the hood. Unless you’re a mechanic (in which case, this article won’t teach you anything new) most of your repairs and maintenance will probably be done b a professional. Even so, you should be comfortable doing some basic things under the hood of your vehicle. Get to know your car, and be able to identify major components like your battery and battery terminals, timing belt, and more, as well as where to check and ad fluids like coolant, oil, transmission fluid, and windshield wiper fluid. Don’t hesitate to break out your owner’s manual and consult with the experts.
Good. Now that you’re familiar with the mechanisms under you hood, here are some things you should know:
1. How to check your tire pressure and refill your tires. If you have a brand-new vehicle, you might have a tire pressure monitoring display right on your dashboard that will let you know when you need air. If not, though, a handheld tire pressure gauge is easy to come by in an auto parts store, and very simple to use. Driving on underinflated tires can be incredibly dangerous, and leads to worsening fuel economy and other issues with your car. Learn how to check your tire pressure and fill up underinflated tires with an air pump at a gas station to combat these effects.
2. How to top off your engine oil, and how to know when it needs to be changed. As a rule, people say you should have your engine oil changed about every 3,000 miles. With newer vehicles (especially if you use fully-synthetic oil), you can probably push it closer to around 5,000. If you have a newer vehicle, that’s probably as far as your attention on oil will probably have to go, but with an older car, things can be a little more complicated. According to experts at City Buick GMC, older vehicles might burn or leak oil, so you’ll need to top yours off in between oil changes. Check your oil every few times you get gas, and if you notice the level getting low, top off your supply. If your oil appears to be getting darker in color, or has a burnt smell, it might be time to consider an oil change, even if you’re not quite due for one.
3. How to replace your windshield wipers (and which ones to buy). Windshield wiper blades are easy to overlook, but they’re incredibly important for safe driving. Depending on the quality of your blades, and the weather conditions that they’re subjected to, they should probably be replaced once or twice a year. Removing old blades and putting on new ones can be very easy, but it’s important to make sure you get the right ones. You can check online, but most stores that sell wiper blades will also have a booklet where you can look up the year, make and model of your vehicle and get the sizing information.
4. How to check on and top off the fluids under your hood. Oil isn’t the only fluid you should be able to check on. Coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid and windshield wiper fluid are all housed under your vehicle’s hood. You should be able to locate these (you can find their locations in your manual) and know how to shop for them and add more if need be.
There’s a lot that goes into owning a vehicle, and it’s important to be informed and able to perform some basic maintenance. If there’s something wrong with your car that you don’t understand, you should definitely seek professional help, but there are some things you can and should be able to do for yourself!