Learning a little more about how to better care for your
vehicles is a good idea for any number of reasons. It allows
you to know if an unscrupulous mechanic is attempting to gouge
you on your repairs – and that will save you money. It can
prevent you from making unnecessary repairs – and that will
save you money. It can help you locate a problem and fix it
early, thus saving more money – sometimes a whole lot of money.
It allows you to be more independent in an era where people are
entirely too dependent on others to survive.

  First, do a visual check of your vehicle. The following will
assist you in where to look, and for what:

•Look at your tires. Do they look low? A tire pressure gauge,
available inexpensively at any discount store of auto parts
store will help you make sure tire pressure stays dead on.
Maintain as necessary. Better tire pressures will make your
vehicle safer, and more fuel efficient. There are some very
inexpensive air pumps for sale at discount stores – should you
really want to stay on top of air pressure in your tires.
Motorcyclists and moped riders need to be exceptionally
concerned about their tire pressures.

•Look closely at your tires and inspect for severely worn
edges, areas missing chunks of rubber, or objects sticking into
the tire. Maintain or replace as necessary. If your tires are
relatively new, and they seem to be wearing unevenly, take you
vehicle into the shop for an alignment, and likely a tire
rotation. These two things are frequently lumped together in
less costly automotive service "specials."

•Look under the vehicle for liquids. One drop usually means
nothing. Look for consistent drip marks. Remember that during
summer months your vehicle's air conditioning will steadily
drip water when in use – no worries. Your coolant system may
also spew an occasional bit of water/anti-freeze, and that's
okay too. If you find a stain indicating long-term or
consistent leaking, trace the leak to its source: engine oil,
transmission fluid, rear end oil, etc. Maintain or repair as
necessary. Sometimes, just getting under the vehicle with a
pressure hose at the car wash will clean off years of old oil
and debris that causes many 'driveway' leaks – thus fixing the
faux leak.

•Visually check your engine oil. Check it according to the
manufacturer's instructions, and also feel it with your
fingers. Engine oil is the life blood of your vehicle's power
plant. Does the oil feel thick, or does it feel watery. Thick
is good, watery is bad! Change watery oil (and be sure to use
an Engine Sentry when you do change oil and filter). Add the
appropriate oil if the level registers low. NEVER overfill your

•Check the coolant level. Be sure to use caution, and follow
the manufacturer's instructions to avoid injury from hot,
pressurized liquids. Maintain as necessary. If you haven't had
your coolant/anti-freeze checked lately, it might be advisable.
Be sure to never add coolant or anti-freeze that is not
recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer. Some radiators
require special products so as not to erode or corrode them.

•Visually check your engine compartment. Tighten caps, firmly
tug/test hose connections, look for worn things, things that
have blown into the engine compartment, etc. Maintain or repair
as necessary. This is also a good time to do light engine
cleaning. Nothing too serious, just some rags and some
degreaser: ammonia and water make a cheap, great degreaser, but
it shouldn't be used on aluminum – certainly not left on it. A
toothbrush is also an excellent tool here – it makes quick work
of much engine debris.

•Visually check your automotive battery and connections. Make
sure the connections feel tight at the battery. If you have
green or white build-up on the battery, mix some baking soda
with tepid water (1/4-cup of baking soda to one quart of water)
and stir it thoroughly. Now, slowly pour it directly over the
affected areas. Don't worry about all the fizzing and crackling
– it's just cleaning. Make sure you do this where the runoff
won't harm anything. An old toothbrush will make this go
faster. When the terminals are clean and dry, apply a thin
coating of automotive grease onto each battery terminal, and
connection. Automotive grease comes in small, plastic tubs that
weigh about a pound each. They're cheap, so get a good brand
name. I use popsicle sticks to spread it with. Grease is good
to have around for many automotive fixes and preventive
maintenance actions.

Okay, you've completed the first steps of becoming a
full-fledged automotive diagnostician – or something like that,
anyway. You've definitely gotten your vehicle in much better
condition, and you should have learned a thing or two. Keep an
eye out for part II – Hear No Evil, and Part III – Smell No

Engine Sentry is a registered trademark of Iron Horseman
Technologies. Iron Horseman Technologies is the trademark of
Iron Horseman Technologies in Tucson, Arizona
About The Author: Eric Scribener is a 35-year veteran freelance
writer and photographer currently on assignment for
http://enginesentry.com/ - Engine Sentry removes the smaller
particles of steel from re-circulating engine oil: cools oil
temperatures, improves lubricity & oil filter function, and
extends engine life.


© 2005 - 2007
Free Online Auto Repair Tips & Guide
– Home Repair Tips –
Buy Brand Name Replacement & Performance Parts
Search by make:
  We need to get started now, so that we have time to cover
Automotive Diagnostics
Custom Search
Search Freeonlineautorepair.com
Custom Search
Search Freeonlineautorepair.com
Free Online Auto Repair Guide