As time goes by, people realize that car maintenance and cars overall seem way more complicated than they really are. It is worth knowing the basics about the functioning of this means of transportation because it can help you improve your own safety and solve potential problems.
Experienced drivers know that most people spend huge amounts of money on unnecessary trips to the mechanic. You don’t need to panic every time a light starts flashing on the dashboard.
There are several common car issues that are simple to fix without the help of a professional. All it takes is a little research and willingness to learn and experiment. And don’t be afraid to ruin your car.
These days there are lots of tutorials available on youtube that teach you, step by step, how to do all sorts of things: from a car battery or headlight bulb replacement to engine oil change.
Car problems are almost inevitable, sure. But the following tips will teach you how to avoid or overcome them with relative ease. Here are 8 car secrets you should know about!
1. Check for rust on the brake pads
More often than not, rust is the cause for that screeching noise that comes out of your vehicle every time you hit the brake pedal. Brake pads are made from heavy, heat-resistant metal such as steel, for example. Depending on the type of use and the climate of your region, these materials rust pretty quickly.
However, that doesn’t mean that you need to go buy new brake pads (on average, a new set of brake pads costs 500$) or ask your mechanic to remove the rust (car rust repair services can cost between 100$ and 500$, depending on your car model).
You can do it yourself! You just need a few tools and a cleaner – distilled white vinegar will get the job done. A quick google search on how to fix rust on a car will give you an extensive list of useful results.
2. Car battery
When your car battery starts having issues, you don’t need to immediately replace it. There are two things you can try. The first one is pouring coke directly on the wires to eliminate corrosion. This is a very common issue that makes the battery fail.
If that is not the problem you are dealing with, you can try to recharge the car battery every time it fails. Of course, this is far from being the most practical solution, but considering that a new car battery can cost between 90$ and 150$, this may save you some money.
3. Tire rotation
In case you don’t know, tire rotation is a technique used to spread the wear evenly across all four tires. It consists in changing the position of each of the tires on your vehicle and it is often done when you get the oil change.
The tire rotation will also keep the tread depth of your tires uniform, helping to keep the traction and handling consistent. Sometimes, this measure is required to keep your tires covered under warranty.
But why paying your mechanic to do this when you can do it yourself for free? If you don’t want to do it for whatever reason, you should know that usually the shop or garage where you bought your set of tires does this service free of charge.
4. Engine light
As we have said before, there is no point in panicking when the check engine light starts flashing on the dashboard. Chances are the problem is easy to solve and you don’t even need to take your car to the mechanic. Sometimes it is even a software problem and not an issue with the engine itself.
5. Don’t use additives
You probably have friends who really like cars, call themselves experts and are always suggesting that you should use additives to improve your car’s performance. But people with regular cars can get everything they need from the additives contained in gasoline and engine oil.
6. Befriend a mechanic
Finding a reliable and trustworthy mechanic sometimes feels like an impossible task. So, when you find one that you like and you know you can trust, be nice and befriend him.
This way, you guarantee that your car is always in good hands and that the mechanic will never try to overcharge you for services that your car really didn’t need – a frequent practice in this industry. And let’s be honest, having a good mechanic you can call to clear up any doubts or quickly inspect your car for free is awesome.
7. Tire pressure
Tire pressure is critical for your safety. Many fatal accidents happen because people ignore the light warning on the dashboard or simply don’t check it.
Besides, having the correct tire pressure will give the best gas mileage possible, better handling, and improve the lifespan of your tires. New cars have the proper tire pressure listed on a sticker inside the driver’s door.
Remember, if you tend to leave your car in the garage for a long time, you should always check the tire pressure before using it again.
8. Replace the headlight bulb yourself
You don’t need to waste a small fortune to replace your broken headlight bulb. Most mechanics overcharge for this service that is actually very simple and in most cases can be done in 5 minutes by literally anyone.
Just look it up on youtube and you will certainly find someone teaching how to change the headlight lamp in a car model similar to yours. That way, you just have to buy the lamp and install it yourself. Be aware that replacing an LED or HID light is much more expensive than replacing a halogen one.
Likewise, if you have to refill the screenwash… DIY! These little maintenance jobs are so easy to do that there is no reason to spend money unnecessarily and pay someone else to do them for you.