What I learnt about Car Maintenance: Novice Level

Watch the Video: http://workshops.buffalo.edu/

About tires
1. Checking the depth of your tires, in other words, the amount of friction left between your tires and the roads. Check it with the American penny (1 cent coin, bronze color), the face of the president’s side. The legal limited depth goes from the top of the coin to his “eye”.

American penny, 1 cent coin
Uh… so misleading, people might think the ‘president’ is ‘God’.

2. Pump more air during warm days, (warm air expands, it will also contract when it reaches cold days); and pump less air during cold days. (cool air are in the contracted state, you wouldn’t want to burst your tires when your tires see warm days)

Advanced: Normal air pump has a lot of water vapor, which increases the contraction of air in tires, because it is using surrounding air. High-priced or high performance vehicles might want to consider commercially treated air, which is made up primarily of nitrogen.

About Engines
2 instances to check: when engine is cold and when engine is warm

3. When Engine is Cold
– check hoses for leaks
upper radiator hose is not collapsed, if it does, radiator cap is defective
– squeeze radiator and heater hoses to see if it is too hard or crunchy or too soft, sticky or oily, which means it is deteriorating
belts: check tension along its longest straight section to see if it is too tight or loose. It should deflect one to one half inches. Check along edges and undersides for fraying or missing pieces. Also, look for glazed, shiny patches, which means it needs replacement.

4. When Engine is Warm.
– spot swollen areas in hoses. They signify weak areas. (And?)
– check for small dense spots and trails of coolant leaking, greenish or pink in color, represent a leak. (leak from where?)

Checking the engine in the front hood is far too complicated for me to understand without getting some hands-on. But then again, if I never tried pumping my own tires, I would never have bothered to understand the contraction and expansion of air in the tires.

3. Refer to Owner’s Manual for proper maintenance schedule.

5. Oil change should take place every 3-4 thousand miles (4800 – 6400 kilometres) if you use natural oil; and 5-6 thousand miles (8000 – 9600 km) for synthetic oil. Oil change take place at the mechanic’s.

Notes: Synthetic oil is more expensive, lubricates better, can handle heat better. Both oils don’t mix very well. So if your car uses natural oil all along, stick with it. Even if the oil tank appears to be draining, there will residues of natural oil. What is the consequence of the oil mixing?

6. Once a year, flush out the cooling fluid in the coolant system. The coolant system absorbs the car’s heat and brings it back to the radiator at the front of the car. The radiator lets the wind hitting against the front of the car cool the air.

Advanced: 10 years old or more, these cars should check if the radiator is chipped. It might need to be replaced.

7. Check windshield washer fluid. Refill it! Locate it in the Owner’s Manual.

8. This is SO USEFUL. A membership with AAA Insurance goes with the person, not with the car. So if your friend’s car break down, and you’re inside, you can call for assistance with AAA even if you’re not driving. Wow!

Thank you, Rick Mooney, Supervisor of AAA Driver Programs!

Afterword: I have had brochures about car maintenance for many months now since I bought my car and have never managed to look at it. I’m glad there’s a real live person who can compress my info-absorbing time into an hour of lecture and another hour of note-taking!


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