Bobby, before you drive to pick up Christina for the Winter Formal, you need to know some car basics. You may think you know everything, but just in case, we joined forces with Currie Motors Ford of Valpo to make sure you’re equipped with everything you need to know about how your car works, which preventative maintenance techniques are a must, and how to be a smart driver!
Car Engine Oil: What is it Good For?
What is oil really for, you ask? Why, to keep your engine cool, lubricated, and clean! That’s why oil changes are important. A lack of oil leads to lacquer and carbonaceous deposits (thermal degradation), varnish and sludge (oxidation), and a plethora of soot and tar (compression heating)! A dirtier engine leads to problems galore, including the potential for it to overheat!
Spare Me a Tire
Believe it or not, a spare tire is not merely a decorative feature. Spare tires are backup for—you guessed it!—flat tires! So get cozy with the particulars: know where it is, where your tools are, and learn a quick study on how to change one! Also, be sure to check that it’s inflated regularly. Don’t be intimidated by changing a tire; the jack will do most of the work!
Those Pesky Windshield Wiper Blades…
There is no greater frustration than driving in a downpour when your windshield wipers aren’t properly working. Never experienced this? One day you will, Bobby. You will. So don’t take them for granted! Keep on an eye on those blades to make sure they’re in great shape! A good rule of thumb is to switch out every six months.
Vehicle Fluids: the Rundown
Like engine oil, these other fluids are basic necessities you’ll want to make sure your car is UP TO SPEED (see what we did there?) on:
- Engine Oil
- Power Steering Fluid
- Brake Fluid
- Windshield Washer Fluid
Under [Tire] Pressure
Thought this wasn’t a big deal, Bobby? Think again. This is one of the most SIGNIFICANT safety features when it comes to driving. When tire pressure is low, friction between the road and your measly tire can cause it to wear out and/or overheat. That’s just asking for trouble. On the flip side, TOO MUCH air is also not ideal. This makes for less traction, causing you to slam on the brakes at an inopportune time. Plus, this makes for a bumpier, more unpleasant ride, and Christina and your friends will not appreciate that. Better too much air than not enough, but something to keep an eye on.
Headlights and Taillights So Bright
Like any old light, these puppies tend to get dimmer and fade with time, so inspect them every now and then. It’s recommended that you change them every year. While a good preventative measure, it’s also a nice way to avoid getting pulled over by your friendly neighborhood police officer.
Shocks and Struts, Off the Runway
Let’s ask it simply: Does your car rock back and forth from time to time when you’re driving? Do ya hear some rattling when you go over bumps in the road? Sorry, pal: your shocks and struts are probably worn out. Don’t worry, this is one of the most common problems of older vehicles. Time to go in for some maintenance.
Let Your Air Filters Breathe
Change your air filters every six months. Trust us. Another thing that gets overlooked from time to time, but when engines get dirty, they can get clogged. Then they work harder, and can cause an increase in your fuel expenses… $$$
This goes without saying, but we’ll give it a whirl anyway: 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 so, this might affect your car's stability control system and ABS (anti-lock braking system). Get it in check!
Emergency Roadside Kit
Look, at the end of the day, Bobby, you never know what can happen. Your car could break down. Even if it never does, it’s better to be prepared. Here’s what your emergency kit should 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)
Get A Good Mechanic, Bobby
It’s simple. Get one you trust and hold on tight. They’re one in million. Visit the Currie Motors Ford of Valpo to meet one in a million.