As a car owner, understanding the basics of auto repair is essential not only to extend the life of your vehicle but also to ensure your safety on the road. While it might seem intimidating to pop the hood of your car and delve into its inner workings, this beginner’s guide will break down the key aspects of under-the-hood car maintenance, making it accessible to even the least mechanically inclined individuals.
Engine oil and filter:
The heart of your vehicle is its engine, and it relies on clean oil for proper functioning. Regularly checking and changing your engine oil is one of the most crucial maintenance tasks. Start by locating the dipstick, usually a brightly colored handle under the hood, and follow your car’s manual to check the oil level. If it’s low, top it up with the recommended oil type. Additionally, change the oil filter as per the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure optimal engine performance.
Your car’s engine also needs a constant flow of clean air. The air filter prevents dust and debris from entering the engine. Over time, it can become clogged and reduce engine efficiency. Thankfully, replacing the air filter is a straightforward task. Find the air filters housing (usually a plastic box) under the hood, unclip it, and swap out the old filter for a new one. Doing this can improve your car’s fuel efficiency and performance.
A dead battery can leave you stranded, so it’s important to check it periodically. Look for signs of corrosion on the battery terminals and clean them with a wire brush if needed. Ensure the battery is securely fastened, and if it’s an older one, consider having it load-tested at an auto parts store to determine its health.
Belts and hoses:
Inspect the belts and hoses under the hood for signs of wear and tear. Cracks, fraying, or soft spots indicate they need replacement. Pay particular attention to the serpentine belt, which powers crucial components like the alternator and air conditioning.
Maintaining the right engine temperature is essential for your vehicle’s performance. Check the coolant level in the reservoir and top it up if needed. Remember to use the correct type of coolant specified in your car’s manual, and never open the radiator cap when the engine is hot to avoid burns.