One feature common to all new and used cars is the need for occasional maintenance and repair. Besides the need to replace fluids and parts that wear down over time, nearly every model is susceptible to some sort of mechanical problem, some more significant than others. While professional car repair services can be expensive, there are many simple repairs that can be done at home with common tools and a bit of knowledge.
Some of the most common car repairs that can be done at home involve routine maintenance. Chief among these are oil changes and tire rotations. To rotate the tires, consult the owners manual. Use the tire change kit to jack up one corner of the vehicle and remove the wheel, replacing it with the spare tire. Lower the car and move to another corner of the car to repeat the process, this time inserting the tire removed in the first step. Remove any stones or debris from the tire tread using a blunt tool such as a screwdriver before replacing each tire. Use the diagram outlined in the manual to know where to move each tire, as this will vary depending on the type of vehicle.
Oil changes information, including the type and amount of oil needed, will also be outlined in the manual. Remove the drain plug from the oil pan beneath the car using a wrench. Collect the used oil in a plastic basin so that it can be recycled properly. While the oil is draining, remove the oil filter using a filter wrench. Screw on a new filter and replace the drain plug. Finally, add new oil at the oil fill point under the hood. Be sure to test the oil level using the dipstick and add oil if necessary.
Many of the most common problems with modern cars involve the complex elements of the electrical system. Dashboard gauges, power accessories, and entertainment features may all be able to be fixed with simple repairs. First, consult the owners manual or the Internet to find any reset procedures. This can help in the case of a computer glitch. Also, be sure to check the fuse box for any blown fuses. The fuse box is usually located in the engine compartment or beneath the dashboard. Identify a blown fuse by its discoloration and replace it with a spare fuse of the same color. This simple step can save a trip to the mechanic and repair many minor electrical problems in a matter of minutes.
While there are some repairs that are best left to professionals, diagnosing problems with your vehicle can mean less time spent trying to identify the problem once the car is in for service. Pay close attention to your vehicle's behavior and note the conditions under which any problems or irregularities occur. This includes unusual noises, poor performance, or lower fuel economy. Many cars are equipped with an on-board computerized diagnostic system. Consult your manual for a procedure to generate error messages. This may involve turning the key or depressing the brake pedal in a specific sequence. The car will then display an error message on the odometer or trip data display. This information may indicate the source of a problem, preventing any unnecessary repairs.
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