AWARENESS a starting point.....
If you want to save money and increase the reliability of your car, you should try to take an active role in its upkeep and maintenance. If you don't, you will eventually be forced to seek help for a major problem or breakdown. There are some simple things you can do to greatly reduce the chances of a major problem or breakdown.
We assume that you are starting with little or no knowledge and that you want to learn what maintenance should be done for maximum dependability and economy. You will also learn what tools you will need.
Whatever your reasons for learning about your car, the first tool you need is an increased awareness of your car's maintenance and repair needs. Even if you don't want to become a full-fledged technician, you should try to learn what maintenance should be done regularly. Take a few minutes to read through your car owner's manual and note the recommended maintenance schedules.
Nothing thrives on neglect. Preventive maintenance can stop problems from occurring. With a small investment of time and interest, you can become aware of some of your car's needs and help to avoid expensive breakdowns. For example, there are two simple checks you can make as you walk toward your parked car:
1. Look at the tires. Soft tires spell trouble. It pays to be sure that your car's tires are inflated properly, according to the car manufacturer's recommendations. After your tires are inflated, look at them carefully. It's more difficult to judge when radial tires are properly inflated because their side-walls always have a characteristic bulge. Even so, each time you approach the car, look at each of the tires and compare what you see with your mental image of properly filled tires. If you're in doubt, check them with a good-quality tyre pressure gauge. At the very least, you risk damage to expensive tires by driving on them while they are under inflated. At worst, you are risking your life.
2. Look for wet spots or puddles under or around the car. Puddles can spell trouble.
They can be:
But don't jump to conclusions; spots or fluids on the ground could have been left by another vehicle. If you are in doubt, check further wherever you normally park your car. Place a large piece of cardboard or several sheets of newspaper under the area of the car where you found the spots. Leave it there overnight. If something is leaking, you will find a fresh puddle on top of the cardboard or paper the next morning. Also try to note the location of the leak relative to the car. It may help you determine where the leak is coming from. But remember that as you drive, air flowing past the car can push these fluids toward the rear of the vehicle before it drips off. Also the fluids will flow downward from the source of the leak. Just to be sure, you should check the fluid levels (refer to manual) to help determine which fluids may be leaking.
If you find brake fluid leaking onto the ground, you should have the car's brakes inspected by a professional technician as soon as possible. Brakes are your car's most important safety system. Fuel leaks are extremely dangerous as gasoline is very flammable. Don't start your car if you find a puddle of gasoline. Have the leak repaired immediately.
Just by checking regularly for tire condition and for leaks, you have developed and used the first, most essential tool for effective car care - your awareness.