Advice and help with home car maintenance
Owning a car is a lot more than simply getting into it for a journey and arriving. If we consider that each car has thousands of moving parts and that these moving parts are always moving whilst the car is being run. Some even continue afterwards to work when you have left the car. Water, oil and air provide the core support to the safe and reliable working of your car. Surprised? Well lets talk about each of them and see just how important but incrediably easy it is to forget about each.
A typical car will use water for a number of crucial functions. A cars radiator requires water to aid cooling alongside anti-freeze. Usually under a cars bonnet the expansion tank will be seen by looking from the radiator and following the pipe to another tank, the expansion tank. The colour of the fluid inside varies but maybe orange or blue in colour. Very simple to check the level, look at the amount of liquid inside by comparring it to the level indicator on the side. As water expands whilst warm remember to check it when cold. If it is lower than the indicator then top up with water just below the high mark. Before unscrewing the top ensure you do so little by little as the system is pressurised and when warm or hot will explode out covering you in hot liquid. Allow for the air to escape by releasing the top slowly and as added protection cover the top with a cloth. Should you see no water in the tank you may have a leak within the system but if not then follow the above to top up. Make a note to visit your garage and ask them to check the anti-freeze content after you have topped up.
A car also needs water to ensure you can safely see out through the windscreen and also that you can see through the rear screen. It may also have headlamp washers too. All these areas require water plus a cleaning soloution. Again these areas can become neglected through lack of care and maintenance. Usually a combination of water and washer fluid will be needed. Find yourself an empty five litre container or a plastic milk bottle, ideally a four pint one. Buy a container of concentrated washer fluid, then pour into the container or milk bottle a quater of the fluid, before filling up with water. Usually blue in colour you don't want it dark blue so by following a quarter that will be sufficient. You are now ready to top up with lots spare for next time. Again under the bonnet is the reservoir and is marked by a fountain type marking similar to a shower. Simply slip off the top and refill. On most cars they share the one resivoir for front and rear wipers and headlamps.
Unfortunately for some people not carrying out periodical maintenance with the oil will result in engine failure. Typically a car up to two litres will require around 5 litres of engine oil. Too little oil and the engine will run hotter causing it's components to wear and become noisy before completely failing if left unchecked. Too much oil and the engines oil seals will fail resulting in engine failure. Engine oil is a vital componet in lubricating and cooling a cars moving parts inside the engine block or its core. Engine oil is not designed to continually protect the engine without monitoring and finally change.
For the purpose here we are looking at how do you correctly identify the location of the engine oil dip stick, providing there is one? Some cars don't have one as its monitored through a computer screen inside the car. But for this we are assuming the car does have a dip stick.Then also the topping up area with cap The easiest of the two parts here will be the topping up area or cap. Even if your car has a plastic cover on the engine top the oil filler cap will be clearly marked. The sign will be of an oil can with oil dripping from it. For the meassuring part of the level of oil ( dip stick ) it can be either located at the front of the engine or on the side. If unsure refer to the owners manual. Always ensure that before you start to check the level the engine is switched off and the car is standing on level ground. Wear protective gloves and find yourself an old rag or paper towel, kitchen towel is fine. Pull the dip stick up and out, wipe the oil from it, then look at the upper and lower markings on the stick before placing it back down into the engine. Pull it out again and look where on the stick the oil is. If on or below the lower mark then top up with engine oil possibly half a litre and repeat the process to check the level. Ideally the level should be towards the upper mark on the stick. Word of advice here is only use the correct grade of oil for your car. Speak to your local spare parts shop to buy a litre at least as a top up. Using the cars registration number will secure the correct grade of oil. Expect to pay between £10 and £20 per litre or less if you buy a 5 litre amount. Only the smaller 1 litre will pour into the engine easier than the 5 litre.
Air is used to keep the car safe through keeping the tyres inflated. Incorrectly inflated tyres will cause extra fuel usage, poor control and badly damaged and worn tyres. Before you consider the expense of having to replace them more often. Ultimately incorrectly inflated tyres cause accidents and injury even death.
There are a number of places that you can find the correct pressures for you car type. Inside the owners handbook, inside the petrol flap or inside the front doors or between all of the doors. Once found ensure that you are looking at the correct pressures for your actual sized tyres, and comparing the pressures to how many people and luggage will be being carried. At home using a foot pump or a compressor you will need also a pressure gauge to finally check the pressure. By visiting a petrol station they now have machines that you are able to pre-set the pressures, which upon reaching that pressure omitt an audible sound to tell you the pressure has been reached.
Another spin off from checking the tyre pressures is that you should also look at the tyres for damage such as sharp items stuck in the tyre whilst also checking the sidewalls for damage. The legal limit of tread depth inside the UK is 1.6mm of tread on at least three quarters of the area. A new tyre has a tread average of between 7 and 8 mm. The 1.6mm level is a minimum, at that depth the tyre has reached its life expectancy and should be replaced immediately.
When considering the above you should also include checking the car lighting along with the horn, the wipers for clearing the screen correctly and check the spare wheel for pressure. Also remember that if your car has an emergency repair kit included check the expiry date of the solution that is used to seal the hole in the tyre. These all have a life limit and not renewing the solution will result in it not sealing the puncture when it is needed.
All of the above should be carried out on a monthly basis. Ultimately by checking the car you will be saving extra expense by not having to replace or repair through none or incorrect maintenance.