Students who study art are three times more likely to be rewarded for school attendance, and four times more likely to be recognized for scholarly achievement. That doesn’t make a technical achievement or so-called “dirty jobs” any less important, however — just ask anyone who’s ever needed a total truck and auto repair.
Unfortunately for those students with a used car that grew up never getting their hands dirty, some technical jobs can’t simply be ignored throughout adulthood. Taking care of your car is one of those things. You can’t leave it all to your total truck and auto repair service, either. From rotating your tires to changing the oil, there are a lot of simple yet important car ownership tasks that you need to do yourself.
However, you don’t need to be a truck repair expert to know what to do. This guide will tell you everything you need to know to properly care for your vehicle, so you’ll need a total truck and auto repair less often.
Three Things to Do at the Gas Station
There should be more to visiting the gas station than simply filling your tank. Every two visits, you should do the following three things:
- Clean your windshield.
- Check your tire pressure.
- Check your oil level, and top it off if needed.
A dirty, bug-splattered windshield is a serious safety hazard. It obscures your view of the road, impairing your ability to see clearly and drive safely. You don’t need an expensive windshield repair service, just give it a good cleaning whenever it gets dirty. Soak the entire windshield with the cleaning fluid provided by the gas station, using the spongy side of the squeegee. Then turn the squeegee around and use the rubber edge to pull tightly from the center of the windshield to the outside, drawing all the excess water off with it. You should do this about once every two trips to the gas station.
If your headlights are dirty, this can pose a risk as well. You don’t want to end up in the total truck and auto repair shop because you couldn’t see clearly at night. Use the gas station squeegee to clean these, too.
Maintaining the right tire pressure will keep you safe, and save you money. If your tires are inflated too much or too little, they’ll impair your driving by making it harder to grip the road and make quick stops and turns. This increases your chance of having a dangerous blowout, and it also decreases your car’s fuel efficiency. Besides that, when you keep your tires at just the right air pressure, they’ll last for longer, meaning you’ll ultimately save a lot of money on new tires.
You can check your tire pressure with a special tool you can find in any gas station or used auto body parts store. The right air pressure will be different for every vehicle and set of tires, but your car should have a sticker somewhere that details the ideal air capacity for each tire. Check inside the driver’s side door and in the trunk for the label. If you can’t find it, don’t worry: the information should be in your car’s owner’s manual, which you can find online if you don’t have a copy. Make sure the tires are cold when you check their pressure; don’t check them right when you get back from a long trip. If the air pressure is too low, most gas stations offer air, sometimes for free.
Tire pressure is so important that some experts say you should check it every time you fill your gas tank. This could be overkill, though. As long as you check it every other time you gas up, you should be safe.
Finally, motor oil is absolutely essential to your car’s performance. It keeps all the moving parts in your engine lubricated, so the gears don’t grind together and tear themselves apart. It also transfers heat away from the engine, kind of like a computer fan transfers hot air away from the processing unit to keep it cool. Not only that, but the oil works as a sort of cleaning solution, drawing out any nasty byproduct of the engine’s combustion process.
To make sure your car has enough oil, wait five minutes after you shut off the engine. You can simply wait for the gas tank to be full instead of setting a timer. Once five minutes have passed, locate the dipstick on your car’s motor, and pull it out. Wipe it clean with a paper towel so you can get a clear reading, then shove the dipstick all the way back in. Draw it out one last time, and now you can see your oil level. The dipstick should have two marks at the bottom end, demonstrating where the oil in the tank should come up to. If the oil line is anywhere between “low” and “max,” then you have enough. If the oil line is below the “low” mark, you should add around one quart of oil to your car.
Most of the time when you check your oil, you shouldn’t need to add any. However, if you end up adding another quart more often than every 500 miles, you should take your car into a total truck and auto repair shop to check for oil leaks.
Read and Follow Your Owner’s Manual
We mentioned your car owner’s manual earlier as a source for helpful information you need for specific maintenance tasks, like checking your tire pressure. But even if you don’t have any questions you think you’d need to consult the owner’s manual for, you should still read your car’s manual at least once. For most people, their car owner’s manual is just like the license agreement that comes with their iPhone updates: they know it’s important, but they don’t have the time or energy to bother reading it.
However, unlike some software agreements, your car owner’s manual is very important. Each vehicle is built somewhat differently, which means that each one must be maintained in different ways. It doesn’t matter how much you know about total truck and auto repair in general; if you can’t well versed in the specific make, model, and year of your car, there’s bound to be something you’re missing.
In your owner’s manual, you can find important details regarding the specific features your vehicle has. It will offer additional tips you might need to take care of your car properly and safely. It will also let you know when certain maintenance tasks need to be done. You can learn what the different warning lights in your car are for, which is important for dealing with unexpected problems. So if you haven’t read your owner’s manual already, you should do that right away.
Change Your Car’s Oil on Time
You should top off your engine oil every now and then because the oil is what keeps your gears running smoothly. That isn’t all that engine oil does, however. It also collects a lot of dirt and grime that wear off the engine components. That dirt adds up over time, and it becomes necessary to change out the oil to keep the engine running properly.
It’s typically recommended that you change your car’s oil every 5,000 miles. Your owner’s manual might have a different number, and you’re perfectly welcome to use that one instead. However, don’t feel pressured to change your oil as often as mechanics and total truck and auto repair shops say. Most repair shops will pressure you to change your oil more often than is really necessary — say, every 3,000 miles. This is just because they want you to come back and give them your business, and waiting for 5,000 miles should be fine.
To save money on car maintenance, you can change the oil yourself without too much trouble. As long as you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, all you need is a few quarts of oil, a new oil filter, an oil pan, and a place to recycle the used motor oil. You can easily find detailed instructions online for doing this if you like.
Replace Your Engine’s Air Filter
When you think about how critical your car’s engine is, it’s no wonder it requires so much maintenance. Besides checking the oil and changing it on occasion, you should check the air filter and consider replacing it.
Just like the motor oil helps keep the gears and internal components clean, the air filter prevents dirt, dust, and other particles from making their way into the engine. And just like the engine oil, the air filter gets dirty after a while.
For some reason, car manufacturers haven’t quite agreed on how frequently your air filter should be replaced. Some say it needs to be changed every 30,000 miles, and others recommend waiting as long as 45,000 miles. If you like, you can refer to your owner’s manual and go by the advice of your specific manufacturer. However, as a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t have to change your filter any more than once every two years. If you live in a city that has a lot of air pollution, you may need to do it more frequently.
If you aren’t sure when the last time was that the filter was changed, just look it over. If you find black spots on it, it may be ready to be replaced. You can find out where your filter is located from your owner’s manual. You don’t need to visit your total truck and auto repair shop. Changing the air filter is even easier than changing your oil, and you can buy a filter at just about any store that sells truck accessories and auto parts.
Inspect and Rotate Your Tires
Did you know that your front tires and rear tires don’t wear out at the same pace? If you leave them, one pair will eventually wear out and need to be replaced, but the other will still be in fairly good shape. Because of this, parking garage experts and others recommend rotating your tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles.
Rotating your tires simply means having a mechanic move your back tires to the front and your front tires to the back. This way they’ll both wear out at roughly the same pace. In the long run, this will extend the lifespan of your tires, which will save you money.
Of course, eventually you’ll have to change your tires to be safe. You don’t want to have a blowout on the highway and end up with expensive legal fees to a car accident law attorney. To find out how much life your tires have in them, you need to check their tread depth. You can do this by measuring the depth of your treads using a quarter. To do this, turn a quarter upside down with Washington’s head facing you. Place it inside the groove of the tread. You shouldn’t be able to see the top of Washington’s head above the edge of the tread. If you can still see the top of Washington’s head, you need new tires.
Keep Your Car Clean
While not as mission-critical as the regular maintenance tasks we’ve been discussing, it’s important to keep your clean. Unless you keep your vehicle in self storage more often than you drive it, you will likely need to keep up with cleaning it. Our cars are subject to sun, salt, grease, rain, smog, dead bugs, and more, almost every day of the year. These substances build up and eat away at paint over time, which can lead to corrosion of the metal underneath.
You may not care too much whether your car looks like or not, but you probably care about its resale value. So take proper care of it by getting it washed at least once each month. If you live by the ocean, or in an area with high pollution, two or three times a month is even better.
Besides washing the outside of your car, remember to clean the inside as well. You can use a household vacuum cleaner or a coin-operated vacuum at most car wash centers. For deeper cleaning, household cleaners work in a pinch. And remember not to use your car as a trash can or self-storage facility between washings. Much like keeping your room clean, keeping your car free of clutter will help you feel better and think clearer. It might even help prevent an accident due to distracted driving, helping you avoid total truck and auto repair expenses.
Keep Up with Insurance, Taxes, and Payments.
While this has less to do with total truck and auto repair and more with common sense, it’s incredibly important to only drive with valid auto insurance and registration. If your license or insurance has expired, you could get in serious trouble if you get pulled over.
Another part of car ownership is knowing where to park. If you use a parking garage every day and have a membership with the garage, be sure to stay up to date with your payments. If you ever have any concerns about making payments, you can talk with parking garage experts to ensure that you always have a spot to park when you need to.
And there you have it: a complete guide to car ownership. By taking care of your vehicle responsibly, you’ll lengthen the time between necessary trips for total truck and auto repair and save money on used car motor parts. Follow these tips to stay safe and happy on the road.