Basic Car Maintenance Tips
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04/28/2014 07: 00 AM
Correctly making use of the parking brake.
The parking brake inside your car is definitely that – a parking brake. Not a handbrake. No e-brake. Not an emergency brake. In fact, in case of an emergency, the final control in the car that you want to touch will be the parking brake. Locking the back wheels at any speed will result in a spin.
When I moved to america I was appalled at just how many people (read : it appears to be everyone) don’t know the most basic things about the parking brake. Like the reason why you use it when you’re stopped at an intersection.
If someone rear-ends you at an intersection, so you only have your foot in the regular brake, two things will happen, I’ll tell you why -. (1) you are going to jerk your foot off the brake as a result of rear impact, which means that (2) you will either run into the automobile in front, or worse – roll in the intersection into oncoming or crossing traffic.
However – if you have the parking brake on, your foot coming off of the brakes makes no difference, and the distance you will be pushed will be considerably reduced, and as an added bonus, you won’t roll anywhere.
After I moved to the usa and had to stay a driving test, the examiner thought I was bit funny within the head to take advantage of the parking brake at every intersection, until I explained the above mentioned to him, at which point he said I’d never heard of that before. And he was not just a driving instructor – he was a tester/examiner! Explains a whole lot about how people drive around here.
I went on to describe to him why Normally i waited to change across traffic with my wheels straight too. It’s the same principal. If someone runs into you from behind, plus your wheels are turned, you’ll be shunted across the road into oncoming traffic. At least in case the wheels are straight you’ll go pretty much straight ahead. Again – total confusion from the examiner.
Here’s another tip for automatic gearboxes – the pawl that drops to the notch on the outside of the main clutch housing when you placed the car in Park is not really very strong. Not really strong enough to help keep the car stationary on anything other than level ground. That may be slowly eating away the advantage of that notch and one day, the parking pawl will slip out and your car will take off with the gear shifter firmly in P, even though sure – you just throw the car in park when on hills and everywhere. So here’s the tip : make use of the parking brake every time your park – it reduces the probability of the P setting inside the gearbox giving up on you one day.
What’s worrying about this all was illustrated when we traveled to a ‘new owners’ evening at the dealership where we bought our car. It was actually one of those freebies to explain the nuances of this particular brand, with free drinks and snacks, with the hope that we’d buy accessories or something. Anyway, one driver asked when should I use the emergency brake? (aagh – it’s not much of a fucking EMERGENCY brake! ) The expert in the dealership said – verbatim – Never – I don’t know why they can bother putting them in cars anymore.
Throughout the rest of this website you’ll find in-depth articles describing in intricate detail how everything automotive works. On this page, I’ve simplified all that knowledge into a series of basic car maintenance tips, subdivided by category. These tips affect pretty much every car owner, from business fleet owners, to specialists like a limo service, on the weekend hobbyist. Basic car maintenance really isn’t very difficult. Some tips have simple explanations right here whilst others link back to the articles in the rest of the site. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try the search button after the top menu. Or have got a suggestion for something else I will cover, get in touch using the contact button at the top menu bar, if you still can’t determine what you’re seeking.
TSBs and wiring diagrams
If you’re looking for TSB (Technical Service Bulletins) or wiring diagrams for your vehicle, BBB industries have access to many of them for free. (Almost any decent car shop will have access to this type of information – as the owner, you should too). BBB’s search page is well worth a glance. Minor ones get done every time a vehicle is taken to a main network dealer, although major recalls normally result in owners being contacted. TSBs are the bulletins shipped to the dealer networks containing info on known issues and bugs with all brands that need to be rectified when the vehicles come in. If you’re searching for a particular TSB or wiring diagram to your vehicle; TSBs and wiring diagrams.
Wheels and tyres
Rotate your tyres!
examine your tyre pressure
Every 5,000 miles or 8,000km, rotate your tyres. arrow Tyre rotation.
Clean brake dust off regularly
Brake dust contains all sorts of nasty stuff. The combination of road grime, heat and moisture through your brakes will bake it on to your wheels , if you leave it very long. Brake dust normally clings to wheels with static electricity so a damp sponge and clean cold water is the best way to get it off.
Check your tyre pressures
Once per week is ideal examine your tyre pressures regularly -. Bad tyre pressures can affect fuel handling, comfort and economy. It’s easy to do and there is not any excuse to never. arrow Checking your tyre pressure.
Check your tread depth
Bald, slick tyres might be good for motor racing but they’re no good on the road. If your tread is too low, replace your tyres, most tyres have tread wear bars built into them now – choose one, examine it and. Four new tyres might seem expensive but they’re cheaper than an excellent or an accident. arrow Tread wear bars.
Look at your belts
In front of your engine there will be several rubber drive belts that loop around various pulleys, driving everything from the alternator to the a/c compressor. Rubber perishes, much more in extreme conditions like those located in an operating engine bay. Get your timing accessory and belt drive belt checked every 25,000 miles, preferably replacing it every 50,000 miles. See the Engine and Fuel bible for facts about interference engines and why checking your timing belts is a necessity, not a luxury: arrow Interference engines
Look at your tyre pressures regularly – once a week is perfect. Bad tyre pressures can affect fuel economy very noticeably. It’s easy to do and there is absolutely no excuse to not. arrow Checking your tyre pressures
Checking your oil level
Should your engine needs oil, this can be something everybody can do – it’s easy and quick and it’ll tell you. It can cause trouble for your engine if the oil is too high or too low. To look for the oil, park on level ground and wait until the engine has cooled down after driving, then locate the dipstick. Pull it out and wipe it clean, then push it all the way in until the top of the it is seated properly from the dip tube again. Wait a moment then pull it all out again. Check the level of the oil. If it’s in between the high and low marks, you’re fine. (If it’s too low, include a little.) The high and low marks can be denoted by two dots, an H and L or possibly a shaded area on the dipstick. The photos below show a Honda dipstick which contains the two dots. Why not merely read the level first time around? The first time you pull the dipstick out, it will have oil throughout it and it will surely be difficult to inform where the level is. That’s why you need to wipe it on a rag to acquire a clean dipstick, then dip it back into the oil to have a good reading.
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