The more you know about your vehicle, the less likely you’ll find yourself in need of emergency Brigham City car repair. At Master Muffler, we want every driver to feel confident both behind the wheel and looking under the hood of their car.
Not every driver needs to be a car enthusiast, but every driver should be well-informed about the basics of their car. Our Brigham City car repair crew shares what every car owner should know before hitting the road.
Know the Signs
No, we’re not talking about road signs; we’re talking about the lights on your dashboard and the sounds your vehicle makes when it’s running smoothly. Get to know your car or truck so you can tell when something isn’t right. Familiarize yourself with common dash lights such as the low fuel indicator, the check engine light, or the light that signals there’s a problem with your braking system. Catching these problems early can help save you on car repair costs in the future.
Every vehicle has different “tells” for when there’s trouble, so we won’t go into specifics. But if you have questions about puddles in your driveway, changes in stability at certain speeds, or strange sounds coming from under the hood, give us a call.
Insurance and Registration
As a driver, you should always know where the insurance and registration information is stored for your car. Typically, people shove these papers in their glove compartment and forget about them. Every six months or so, they stuff a new insurance policy paper in there and neglect to shred the old one. Then, when they get pulled over for a traffic violation, they’re left sifting through the mess in order to give the police officer the most updated insurance and registration info. It can make an already stressful situation that much more so.
Be sure that every year, you have updated registration and insurance info tucked somewhere safe in your vehicle. It might be a good idea to fold it into your owner’s manual if that fits in your glove box. Speaking of registration- do you know when yours is due each year? If you’re not sure, it’s usually around the time your check engine light comes on for absolutely no reason *wink wink*. Seriously, though, you can look at your rear license plate to see the month and year that your registration expires so you can take care of it in a timely manner.
Fill ‘Er Up
Anyone who owns a car should know how to top off the fluids and put gas in the tank. Unless, of course, you happen to live in Oregon or New Jersey, where customers aren’t allowed to handle the pumps themselves. Back in the day, gas stations weren’t exactly brimming with safety features, so it was safer for hired attendants to pump gas while customers stayed in their vehicles. Oregon did lift this ban briefly during a record heatwave in 2021, which meant many drivers had to learn how to pump gas if they needed to fill up during that period. Don’t be like a lifelong Oregonian and neglect to learn how to fill your tank!
Additionally, be sure you can respond to the other needs of your engine, such as maintaining oil and coolant levels. These fluids are necessary to keep your engine lubricated and prevent overheating. You’ll also need to know how to top off your windshield washer fluid. Your car also needs brake fluid, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid, but sometimes it’s best to leave those systems to your local Brigham City car repair experts.
Check Tire Pressure
Using a manual or digital tire gauge tool, learn how to remove the cap on your tire and read the pressure. If you don’t know what the correct PSI should be, it’s usually listed in both your vehicle’s owner’s manual and on a sticker in the driver’s door well.
Change a Tire
No one wants to get out of their car and change a tire on the side of the road, but it’s probably better than not knowing how to change a tire, and being stranded on the side of the road. Changing a tire is pretty straightforward, but if you don’t practice you probably won’t feel confident or comfortable when the time comes to put your skills to the test.
Can you locate your spare tire, and do you know what condition it’s in? Is it under the car, inside the truck, or on the back? How do you remove the spare tire so you can switch it out for the flat?
Is it thumping around the back of your car, or stashed in a compartment? Without one, you can’t remove the flat; you need to elevate the car so the flat tire is not bearing weight. Also, do you know where to place a carjack for the safest lift? A car jack should be placed under the rocker panels of the vehicle. These are located between the front and rear wheels on either side of the car.
These little triangles help stabilize your vehicle when it’s jacked up. They offer additional safety as you replace the flat.
Also known as a torque wrench, do you know if you have one in your trunk? You need it to remove the lug nuts that attach your wheel to its rotor.
How to Jumpstart a Car
Much like changing a tire, you should go over the steps to jumpstart a car. Doing it incorrectly can lead to dangerous consequences.
- Put both vehicles in park, turn them off, and remove keys from ignitions
- First, attach the red jumper cable clamp to the positive (+) terminal on the dead battery
- Second, attach the red jumper cable clamp to the positive terminal on the charged battery
- Third, attach the black jumper cable clamp to the negative (-) terminal on the charged battery
- Fourth, attach the black jumper cable clamp to a metal part of the dead engine
- With jumper cables attached, start the working vehicle
- Then, attempt to start the dead vehicle
Once the car is running, remove the cables in the following order:
- Negative clamp from previously dead vehicle
- Negative clamp from the working vehicle
- Positive clamp from the working vehicle
- Positive clamp from the previously dead vehicle
With these tips in your toolbox, you are prepared to take care of basic car maintenance and repairs on your own! Or at the very least, you’ll know when it’s time to call Master Muffler for help.