10 Basic Things Every Car Owner Should Know
It's so easy to buy a car these days. And it's quite easy to learn how to drive. However, it's more difficult to understand what makes your car work, let alone know how to keep it in tip-top shape. Never fear--we're here to help you become a smart, informed driver on the road. Here are ten basic things every car owner should keep in mind:
Car Engine Oil
Many people think that oil is there to help your car burn fuel when in fact, it's there to lubricate, cool, and clean your engine. So what this means is that if there is not enough oil, then three things will happen to your car: thermal degradation (lacquer and carbonaceous deposits), oxidation (varnish and sludge), and compressive heating (soot and tar. These things will deposit in your engine, creating friction in parts where oil would normally flow. Once this happens, the oil will start to do opposite of what it was intended to do. It now create friction and heat to the engine, cylinder walls, bearings, rings, and etc., which and creates even more deposits that will lead to a dirtier engine.
Your spare tire's not designed to add frivolous decor to your car; it's there in case you get a flat tire. So make sure to familiarize yourself with where it is (including your jack and other tools) so you don't have to look for it when you need to change your tire. Spare tires are normally inside the trunk or a trunk panel, but others are placed elsewhere, depending on the vehicle model.
It's also good to check if the spare is inflated before you use your car. The last thing you need is to fix your flat tire and realize that your spare is as flat as a pancake as well.
It's actually easy to change a tire; what does require more effort is managing the entire weight of your vehicle while doing the tire change. Fortunately, your jack will do most of the heavy lifting for you, although it will take a couple of tries to get used to it, at first.
Windshield Wiper Blades
Have you ever driven in the rain with your windshield wipers not working? Not exactly what you call a most pleasant experience, isn't it? These wipers are a necessity that many people tend to overlook--only to realize how important they are once they're in a tight crunch. If you want to keep your windshield wipers performing at their best, make sure their blades are in good shape. Generally, you should replace them every six months, although it's best to check with your car's manual first.
Another basic component that every car owner should take in mind is car fluid. If you want to keep your car running smoothly, make sure to check them regularly. It's something you can do easily, so no excuses, here. The five important ones include:
- Engine Oil
- Power Steering Fluid
- Brake Fluid
- Windshield Washer Fluid
You might think tire pressure is really not a big deal, but you're so mistaken. It's actually one of the most important safety features on your car. Here's why: when tire pressure is low, its surface touches most of the ground and can cause friction between the road and the tire. When this happens, your tires wear out fast. It can also overheat and may lead to tread separation, which is an accident waiting to happen.
Conversely, too much air is not good either. It causes less tire surface to touch the ground, making it a bumpier ride for everyone. It also causes less traction, causing stopping distances to suffer. Consequently, it can lead you to misjudge an area when slamming your car brakes.
Obviously, if you're going to make an error here, it's better to have too much pressure instead of a lower one. But if you want them to perform at their best and maintain their longest life, use the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle.
Headlights and Taillights
Headlights and taillights go dimmer as time goes by, so inspect them from time to time. Checking them is more than safe preventive measure. It gives you a way to avoid getting pulled over by the cops. Generally, it's recommended to change headlights every year.
Regular car maintenance vary from time to time. It can be expensive, but your car maintenance is very important. The best way to start is to read you vehicle owner's manual. It will give you the ideal service intervals for your car.
Shocks and Struts
Is your car rocking back and forth from time to time? Can you hear rattling when you go over bumps? Then your shocks and struts are probably worn out. This is one of the most common problems of older vehicles.
It's important to change your air filters every six months. When engines get dirty, they can get clogged, ma king them work harder. This can cause engines to work harder, and can cause an added expense in your fuel expenses.
Emergency Roadside Kit
You can never tell when your car might break down, and if that happens, then you should have your emergency kit on hand. These include:
- First Aid Kit
- Fire Extinguisher
- Three Reflective Warning Triangles
- Tire Gauge
- Foam Tire Sealant
- Jumper Cables
- Extra Batteries
- Duct Tape
- Tow Rope
- Utility Too (such as the Swiss Army Knife)
- Rain Poncho
- Drinking Water
- Warm Blanket
- Cat litter (acts like a sand underneath tires for traction)
- Glass Wipe (in case the windshield is broken)
Brakes are another important safety feature that you should never overlook. When you drive, observe closely. Is your steering wheel shaking while you are stepping on the brake pedals? If that's the case, then this might affect your car's stability control system and ABS (anti-lock braking system).
Get A Good Mechanic
And lastly, get a good mechanic. A skilled, honest-to-goodness mechanic is hard to come by, but if you find one, then hang on to them--tightly. Ask friends and family for recommendations, read through car forums, and go through car mechanic reviews. Don't just pick the first one you come across just because they give you the cheapest rates. Take your time here. You’re putting your car’s safety and performance into their hands, so make sure they’re good at what they’re doing.