Auto Repair and Maintenance
What You Should Check Under the Hood Regularly
Just because you may not be a mechanic or automotive technician does not mean that you do not need to know anything about what goes on underneath the hood of your car. In most cases, the average driver will literally just continue operating their vehicles without ever checking to make sure that it is running properly until it no longer runs. By that time, the issue that could have been addressed weeks, months or even years ago would have escalated into a full-blown problem that could lead to expensive repairs and even permanent trips to the salvage yard in some extreme cases.
If you want to pursue a lucrative, in-demand position as a mechanic or automotive technician, then you should do so without any hesitation. However, that is not necessarily the goals and ambitions of the average driver. There are still several points that you should learn to check and manage over time that can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. What are some of these points?
Anti-Freeze, Coolant, Hoses & Clamps
Make sure that you check the levels of coolant and antifreeze each month. Use the level markings within your vehicle to know just how much should be in there. Make sure that you only do this when your engine is cool and create a solution that combines half of the anti-freeze (or coolant) with half water. Another monthly checkup that you should make has to do with the belts and hoses. Keep them tightened, because there should never be any more than ½ inches of slack. Do not hesitate to replace clamps and hoses whenever necessary.
Check Your Transmission Fluid
This fluid also needs to be checked at least once a month. Make sure that your vehicle is on a flat surface when this is being done with the engine still running with the car parked. Carefully shift the vehicle to drive and then back to park again. Remove your dipstick and wipe it completely dry before going through the insertion and removal process again. If it is necessary, you can also add the approved type of fluid but make sure that you do not exceed the enforced limits and boundaries when doing so.
Check Your Oil
The general rule of thumb that you should follow when you are filling up your gas tank is to also check the oil while you are still right there at the station. Take the dipstick out and make sure that you wipe it completely clean. Complete this process at least one or two more times to ensure that your final reading is as accurate as possible. If you see that the reading is low, then take the time to go ahead and change the oil before driving any further. It is suggested that you changed the oil in your vehicle at least once every three months or 3,500 miles, whichever you reach first. The oil filter needs to be replaced as well whenever you change the oil.
Check the Air Filter and Brake Fluid Monthly
Replace the air filter whenever it is dirty. This is one of the easiest things to reach underneath the hood of your vehicle. It is normally found within a rectangular box that is located in front of your air duct hose assembly. When it comes to checking your brake fluid, make sure that you clear the dirt away from off of the brake master cylinder reservoir lid first and foremost. If you do need to add fluid, only stick to the type that was specified through manufacturer specifications and do not forget to check for any leakages.
Check Your Wiper and Power Steering Fluid
The reservoir that holds your windshield washer fluid should always be kept full throughout the year as well. Take some of the fluid and clean off the blades with a rag whenever you are checking the fluid levels. Doing so will help you to prolong the life of your actual blades and prevent you from having to replace your blades as frequently. Add these two fluids to your monthly checklist. When checking the power steering fluid, remove the dipstick and add fluid if necessary before you inspect the hoses and pumps for any damage or leaks.
Trust in the Expertise of a Mechanic
Whenever you have noticed that there is a problem or issue that you cannot handle or address underneath the hood of your vehicle, one of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to sweep it up under the rug. There are so many people that end up paying thousands of dollars for repairs that could have easily been prevented if the problem was caught sooner and addressed properly. For example, drivers that do not regularly rotate their tires will be forced to replace them much more frequently than drivers that do. If you do not check your belts and hoses for damage and leaks, this can also lead to serious problems sooner than you think.
The Value of Preventative Maintenance
Preventative maintenance is always going to be much cheaper in the long run than these expensive repairs. Therefore, you should always trust in the expertise of a mechanic to address the major issues and conditions that do not look, feel or seem right. Whenever you are in doubt, do not hesitate to ask a professional mechanic or technician for their expert guidance and assistance. Pay now and get it fixed or you will be forced to pay more in the future.