There are some basic maintenance tasks that every car owner should know how to do. Many times, people rely on auto repair shops to take care of these for them, but what happens when they’re stranded on the side of the road? Owners are responsible for their vehicle’s maintenance. Knowing how to do some minor repairs yourself is a useful skill that will preserve and extend the life of your vehicle.
Change A Flat Tire
Many motorists find themselves stranded on the side of the road and rely on 24-hour roadside assistance services. These may be built into their vehicle’s warranty or paid for separately. But what happens if the tow truck is busy with something else and can’t get to you for hours? Many cars come equipped with an appropriate car jack, a lug wrench, and spare tire. Other objects, like a flashlight and flares or reflective triangles, will help keep you safe by the side of the road when it’s dark.
Keep an Emergency Kit
Always keep an emergency kit
If you do find yourself stranded on the side of the road and the problem is a more severe mechanical issue, it’s helpful to have a roadside emergency kit in the trunk. What should this contain? Here’s a suggested list:
- First-aid items (band-aids, sunscreen, bug repellent)
- Pain reliever
- Bottled water (which should be changed out every few months because of temperature fluctuations in a vehicle’s interior)
- Battery-powered flashlights
- Reflective triangles or flares
- A lighter and/or matches
- Granola bars high in protein and nutrients
- A blanket
Change the Oil
Every vehicle owner should know when the oil needs to be changed, it is essential to routine car maintenance. The old standard used to be every 3 to 5 thousand miles depending on the car’s age, but that’s no longer true for some makes and models. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will provide a specified mileage for maintenance. Keep careful records to approximate when you’ll need to change it next.
Check Tire Pressure
Your tires’ air pressure fluctuates with temperature and with how often you drive. It’s important to keep an eye on the tires’ level and to check it periodically to ensure the PSI is in a good range for your car. Every vehicle will have specific PSI ratings for both the front and back tires printed on a sticker, typically on the inside door on the driver’s side.
Check All Fluids
In order for your vehicle to operate properly, all the fluids need to be checked from time to time, typically when the oil’s being changed. All the fluids your car needs are located places under the hood. Drivers should check them from time to time to ensure they’re at proper levels. Types of fluids to check the levels of include:
- Power steering fluid
- Windshield wiper fluid
- Brake fluid
Assess Check Engine Light
You should be able to tell what engine lights mean
When your vehicle’s check engine light (CEL) illuminates, it could mean any number of things from a loose gas cap to a more serious engine problem. The first step to diagnose it is to retrieve the error/fault code the car’s computer has stored in its memory. You can do this with a handheld OBD-II reader, purchased for about $20-30 at an auto parts store. This will display an error code when it’s connected to the vehicle’s ECU (computer). This connector is typically located under the steering wheel. Once you have the code, there are many online resources that can translate it so you can understand what the initial problem is.
You should also recognize that the check engine light could be a potentially serious problem. Your car should be taken in to be serviced as soon as possible.
Know Proper Procedures To Follow After an Accident
Whether it’s a fender bender or something more serious, every driver should know the initial steps to take after being involved in an accident. It doesn’t matter who is at fault. Some initial steps include:
- Call the police
- Obtain insurance information and contact information of the other driver, and provide yours as well.
- Fill out a police report, if necessary
- Take photos of the damage in case they’re needed by your insurance company
- Contact your insurance company, who can put you in touch with a great collision repair specialist in Reno.
If you’re a car owner in need of a great collision repair specialist in Reno, contact us at Liberty Collision in Reno for a free estimate.