Auto Repair For Dummies by Deanna Sclar
The book Auto Repair For Dummies, 2nd Edition (9781119543619) was previously published as Auto Repair For Dummies, 2nd Edition (9780764599026). Despite having a new cover and design, the content remains unchanged and should not be considered a new or updated product.
This extensively reorganized and updated top-selling auto repair guide, with 400,000 copies sold, is an essential resource for those who perform automobile maintenance themselves. In the $34 billion automotive do-it-yourself market, women now account for one third of the households that engage in some form of maintenance.
For new or aspiring do-it-yourself mechanics, this illustrated how-to guide is a valuable tool that has been further improved. The content has been reorganized to provide repair and maintenance instructions immediately after each automotive system overview, making it easier to find practical solutions. Author Deanna Sclar has updated the systems and repair information, eliminating discussions about carburetors and including coverage of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.
In addition, Sclar has revised the schedules for tune-ups and oil changes, and added driving tips that can help save on maintenance and repair costs. The book also provides new advice on troubleshooting problems and knowing when it’s necessary to seek assistance from a professional mechanic. For anyone looking to reduce expenses on car repairs and maintenance, this book serves as an excellent starting point.
Deanna Sclar, an acclaimed auto repair expert and consumer advocate from Long Beach, CA, has not only contributed to the Los Angeles Times, but has also been featured on the Today show, NBC Nightly News, and other television programs.
Car Care Basics: A Guide to Keeping Your Car Happy and Healthy
You know, I’ve been driving and working on cars for almost 15 years now, and I’ve realized that it really doesn’t take much to keep them running smoothly. Just a little bit of time and attention each month can go a long way in ensuring that your car is reliable and ready to go when you need it. While I may not have always shown the same level of gratitude to my car as I have to a date, I’ve come to understand that cars need a physical relationship too. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of car maintenance and how you can become more confident in taking care of your own car.
The Importance of Preventive Maintenance
Taking care of your car doesn’t mean you need to become a mechanic. It simply means that you should learn to maintain your car yourself or at least have a basic understanding of what your car needs. By spending just 15 minutes a month checking your car and learning to spot potential problems, you can prevent up to 70% of highway breakdowns. Preventive maintenance not only saves you money but also helps your car live longer, saves fuel, reduces air pollution, and gives you more confidence when dealing with mechanics.
How to Perform a Basic Checkup
Before we dive into the details, it’s essential to have the right tools for the job. While you won’t need many, it’s important to use the correct tools for each task. If you’re unsure about where certain parts are located, check your car’s owner’s manual or consult the service manual specific to your car’s make, model, and year.
Here are the basic steps to perform a 15-minute checkup on your car:
- Check the Air Filter: Open the air cleaner and inspect the air filter. If it’s dirty, replace it. An air filter that hasn’t been changed in a while can affect your car’s fuel efficiency and performance.
- Check the Oil: Remove the oil dipstick, wipe it clean, and reinsert it. Remove it again and check the oil level and quality. If it’s dirty or low, it’s time for an oil change.
- Check the Coolant: Ensure the coolant level in the plastic overflow bottle or radiator is between the minimum and maximum marks. If it’s low, add coolant. Additionally, make sure the coolant still has its temperature controlling qualities by using a coolant tester.
- Inspect the Hoses: Look for any cracks, leaks, or brittleness in the hoses. If you notice any issues, have them replaced by a mechanic.
- Check the Belts: Wiggle each belt to ensure they have no more than half an inch of play. If they’re worn or frayed, have them replaced.
- Inspect the Battery: Check the battery’s fluid levels and make sure they cover the metal fins inside. If necessary, add distilled water. Additionally, look for any signs of corrosion on the battery terminals and clean them if needed.
- Check the Transmission Fluid: Start your engine and put it in park or neutral. Check the transmission fluid level and quality using the dipstick. If it’s low or smells burnt, have it checked by a mechanic.
- Inspect the Brake Fluid: Check the brake fluid level in the master cylinder and add more if it’s low. Ensure the gaskets in the lid touch the surface of the fluid when you replace it. It’s essential to check the brake fluid level again in a few days to make sure it’s not leaking.
- Check the Power Steering Fluid: Inspect the power steering fluid level in the pump’s cap. Add more if it’s low.
- Check the Windshield Washer Fluid: Make sure the windshield washer fluid reservoir is filled. Using regular dish detergent can cause the windshield to fill with bubbles during rain, so it’s best to use a windshield washer fluid product.
- Inspect the Lights: Turn on all the lights—headlights, taillights, brights, parking lights, and directional signals. Make sure they’re all working correctly and ask someone to help you check the brake lights.
- Check the Tires: Use a tire gauge to check the tire pressure when they’re cold. Adjust the pressure if necessary, referring to the recommended pressure indicated on the tire. Additionally, inspect the tires for any signs of wear or damage, and make sure they have enough tread.
Remember to repeat the 15-minute checkup each month and address any issues that arise promptly to avoid further damage to your car.
Dealing with Car Troubles on the Road
Despite regular maintenance, sometimes car troubles can still arise when you least expect them. It’s essential to know how to handle these situations safely and effectively.
Here are some tips for dealing with common car troubles on the road:
- Car Won’t Start: If your car doesn’t start, check the battery, cables, and connections. If the battery is dead, you can try jump-starting it using jumper cables and another vehicle. However, be cautious, as newer cars may have specific instructions about jump-starting. Consult your car’s manual before attempting it.
- Overheating: If your car starts to overheat, turn off the air conditioner and monitor the temperature gauge. If it continues to rise, shift into neutral and rev the engine slightly to increase water and air circulation. If necessary, stop the car safely, open the hood, and let it cool down before adding water or coolant. It’s crucial to never open the radiator cap when the engine is hot.
- Flat Tire: If you have a flat tire, pull over to a safe location and use your car’s spare tire to replace it. If you don’t have a spare or the flat is unrepairable, you may need to call for roadside assistance or use a can of inflatable air sealant as a temporary fix.
- Car Leaks: If you notice any fluid leaks under your car, it’s important to identify the source and address the issue promptly. Different colors and smells can indicate specific problems, such as oil leaks, coolant leaks, or gasoline leaks.
- Car Wash: When washing your car, be sure to use a suitable car washing product with some wax in it. Wash the car section by section, starting from the top down, and rinse off the soap thoroughly. Finally, dry the car with a clean towel or chamois, clean the windows, and polish the chrome.
By following these tips and staying proactive with your car’s maintenance, you can ensure that your car remains in good condition, avoids costly repairs, and provides you with reliable transportation. Remember, taking care of your car is not only about prolonging its lifespan but also about ensuring your safety and the safety of others on the road.