Cars can be expensive, but the costs can escalate quickly if you neglect basic maintenance or ignore certain warning signs. While fresh grads want to save money any way they can, it’s best to address problems as soon as they come up rather than putting them off (by the way Oscaro is offering free shipping this week, so if there’s something you need, get it now.)
Part of being a responsible Fixer is knowing what issues you can let slide (until you get to wherever you’re going to make the repair), and what issues you need to address immediately.
Here’s some warning signs that if they happen when you’re driving, you need to stop the car immediately:
If you hear any metal on metal grinding:
- Check your brakes first and make sure you haven’t worn through the pads.
- Check your differential to see if it’s run out of oil.
- Check over the entire engine. Any metal on metal grinding is likely a lubrication failure.
Your engine temperature suddenly shoots up:
- Pull over to the side of the road and turn off the engine and pop the hood.
- Once the engine is cool, carefully remove the radiator cap and check the coolant level. In a pinch, plain water can be used in place of coolant.
- If you see flames, run. Seriously, get as far away from the vehicle as you can.
- If the problem persists, you likely have a leak somewhere in your coolant system, a sickly sweet smell is a dead giveaway for a coolant leak.
- If the engine temp gradually creeping up, especially when the weather is hot or you’re on a long hill climb, try shutting the AC off and turning the heat on high, if this doesn’t work, you may need to pull off the road and let your engine cool down.
Graduating is a big step towards independence and knowing how to properly maintain your vehicle and how to handle emergencies is another important step. Here’s some fixes that every grad should know.
How to jump a battery
It’s one thing to have a general idea of how to jump a battery and another to REALLY know how to jump a battery. Make sure you’re the latter. If you mix up the cables or accidentally touch the clamps together you can end up frying your car, or worse, yourself. Check out our article on how to properly jump a battery.
Tip: To prevent a dead battery, keep your battery terminals clean by scrubbing with a little bit of water, baking soda and a tooth brush.
How to change a tire
If you don’t know how yet, now’s the time to learn. Read up on your cars owner manual and know where your spare tire, jack and tools are located. When you’ve got some spare time, practice taking off and putting your tire back on in your driveway. Better now than having to do it for the first time on the interstate shoulder.
Tip: Tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern. So tighten the lug directly across from the one you just tightened, and so on to create a star.
How to change your oil
It’s easy, and you have to do it, read here to find out why. When you do it yourself you’ll not only save money, but you’ll know the job was done well.
Tip: Along with the oil change, don’t forget to change the filter and tighten it half a turn with a wrench. Loose filter=oil all over the engine.
What your warning lights mean
Yes, they’re important. Read up in your owners manual what each light means and don’t ignore them when they come on.
How to keep it clean
A well maintained vehicle should be cleaned regularly, inside and out. Cleaning will help you become familiar with all aspects of your vehicle (particularly in the engine bay) so you’ll learn to recognize what’s normal and what’s not. A clean car also helps the resale value, so keep that interior clean too.
These car tips for grads will help you save money by ensuring your vehicle is well maintained and for minor repairs, you wont need to fork out cash for a tow truck.
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Whether you’re a seasoned Fixer, or just getting started, Oscaro openGARAGE invites you to join the Fixer movement. Leave us a comment below if there’s an article you’d like to see, or share a tip you’d like to summit. Use #OpenGarage to share on Facebook and Twitter.