In the last installment of this series we covered the basics of car care. Today, we’re going to cover some more basic checks that should be performed on a regular basis.
In this installment we’re going to cover power steering fluid, brake fluid, air filters and the importance of proper tire pressure.
Under the hood you can see a few reservoirs, some of those hold the fluids that we are covering in this article. The power steering fluid reservoir is usually easy to find, though some newer model cars don’t have one. That service has been moved so that the dealer will take care of it.
If you can find the power steering reservoir, usually denoted by a something that looks like a steering wheel on the cap, or just something that says power steering, you should check and see if its at the max or min level. The scale is usually on the side of the reservoir, where you can see your fluid level through. Make sure to keep it in between the min and max and don’t overfill it.
Like any other fluids, you can go to any automotive store and ask the employees for help finding the proper fluid for your vehicle.
A circle with two lines around it usually denotes the brake fluid reservoir. Like the power steering reserve, there should be a scale on the side to check the level of the fluid. Make sure the fluid stays within the max and min level. DOT 3 and 4 fluid will work for most vehicles, and the cap should say what type of fluid your car requires.
Changing the air filter on some vehicles can be a frustrating experience, and usually vans and trucks are harder to change than other vehicles. The air filter is easy to find in smaller vehicles. There is usually a large hose that runs from the engine to the filter. You may need a screwdriver, or a ratchet to get the filter open.
You’ll know when you need to change the filter when you check it, and it’s dark grey, or if you haven’t ever changed it, black. Once again, any automotive store should be able to help you find the filter you need for your vehicle.
Changing the air filter is important because it filters out particles from the air that can damage the engine. Also, gas mileage and performance can increase upon changing the filter because the engine won’t have to work as hard to pull air for the engine.
Tire pressure is possibly the easiest car maintenance to perform, but is extremely important. Over inflated tires can cause the tires to wear improperly or possibly explode on the road if the pressure is over the maximum a tire can safely hold. Low tire pressure can affect your gas mileage and will cause damage to the tires as well.
For most vehicles there is a placard on the inside of the driver door that tells you what the manufacturer recommends for tire pressure. For most cars it’s about 30 to 32 Psi, for trucks it’s usually between 35 and 36. Most shops will check and set your pressure for you, if you don’t want to bother with it. You should check your tire pressure at least once a month to assure it’s right.
Hopefully you’ll be able to perform basic maintenance on your vehicle after reading these articles. With a little bit of effort you can help extend the life of your vehicle and tires.